Friday, January 12, 2007

American Beauty Project

If you're in New York next weekend you might want to consider going to check the American Beauty Project - who will be performing Workingman's Dead and American Beauty on consecutive nights for FREE in the World Financial Center. Here's the press release (via Jambase)...

Two of the Grateful Dead's greatest albums, American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, both recorded in 1970, will each be honored with its own evening when Arts>World Financial Center presents The American Beauty Project free in the World Financial Center Winter Garden, 220 Vesey Street.

Workingman's Dead, which was recorded in March 1970, will be honored Saturday, January 20 at 8:00 p.m. by a distinctive roster of singer-songwriters, bands and instrumentalists when each performs one of the tracks on the classic album.

The next night, Sunday, January 21 at 8:00 p.m., another group of singers and musicians will perform cuts from American Beauty, which was recorded in August and September 1970.

Performing their own arrangements of the Workingman's Dead and American Beauty songs are Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane), Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo, Gob Iron), Ollabelle, Toshi Reagon, The Holmes Brothers, Sex Mob, Espers, Jen Chapin, Dar Williams, The Klezmatics, Tim O'Reagan (The Jayhawks), Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Phil Lesh & Friends), Teresa Williams, Rob Barraco, Dan Zanes, Railroad Earth, Catherine Russell, Jim Lauderdale, John Leventhal, Brandon Ross, Andy Statman, Tony Trischka and more names to be announced in the weeks ahead.

Putting together The American Beauty Project to celebrate 35th anniversary of these two landmark Grateful Dead albums is Artistic Director and Producer David Spelman, who was responsible for similar tributes to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. At last year's Nebraska Project honoring Springsteen, The Boss himself spent the evening standing unnoticed with the crowd before jumping on stage for the finale.

"Both Workingman's Dead and American Beauty were ranked on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, 258 and 262, respectively," said Mr. Spelman. "Each was extremely innovative at the time for their fusion of bluegrass, rock, folk and country music."

Workingman's Dead, the band's fourth studio album, was recorded in March 1970, and was voted by readers of Rolling Stone as the best album of 1970, in front of Crosby, Stills and Nash's Déjà Vu and Van Morrison's Moondance.

American Beauty was recorded between August and September of 1970 and was released in November of the same year. It included instant radio favorites such as "Truckin'," "Sugar Magnolia" and "Friend of the Devil."

"The acoustic sound and folk/country tunes of Workingman's Dead would come as quite a shock to many fans, and to the critics as a harbinger of some sort of conscious movement (along with The Band, Dylan and the Byrds) toward country," wrote Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally in his program notes for the event. Mr. McNally went on to add that "as usual with the Grateful Dead, the album's origins were serendipitous and synchronistic, involving no plan or program. Instead, their swerve to include country songs in their work began quite accidentally when their lyricist Robert Hunter moved in with the Garcia family in January 1969... In March 1970, they went into the studio to record Workingman's Dead. Hugely in debt to their record company, they were forced to be simple and economize, thinking consciously of Buck Owens' Bakersfield sound. The simplicity served the music perfectly, and the result was a classic, although not the departure many thought it was. They'd enlarged their vision, not changed it."

The set list for The American Beauty Project is as follows:

Workingman's Dead - Saturday, January 20 at 8:00 p.m.:

Uncle John's Band - Ollabelle with Larry Campbell
High Time - The Holmes Brothers
Dire Wolf - Larry Campbell with Teresa Williams and Rob Barraco
New Speedway Boogie - Catherine Russell
Cumberland Blues - The Klezmatics
Black Peter - Jim Lauderdale with John Leventhal, Brandon Ross and friends
Easy Wind - Tim O'Reagan (the Jayhawks)
Casey Jones - Railroad Earth
Plus instrumental interludes by: Tony Trischka and Andy Statman

American Beauty - Sunday, January 21 at 8:00 p.m.:

Box Of Rain - Toshi Reagon
Friend Of The Devil - Mark Eitzel
Sugar Magnolia - Jim Lauderdale and friends
Operator - Jorma Kaukonen and friends
Candyman - Jay Farrar (Son Volt)
Ripple - Dar Williams and Dan Zanes
Brokedown Palace - Ollabelle with Larry Campbell
Till The Morning Comes - Espers
Attics Of My Life - Larry Campbell with Teresa Williams and Rob Barraco
Plus instrumental interludes by: Andy Statman, Tony Trischka, and Sex Mob

HOST:
John Schaefer is the host of WNYC's innovative music talk show "Soundcheck," which features live performances and interviews with a variety of guests. Since 1982, Schaefer has also hosted and produced the popular new music radio program "New Sounds," hailed as "The #1 radio show for the Global Village" by Billboard magazine. He has been heard regularly on the BBC, the ABC (Australia), Taipei Public Radio, and Radio New Zealand. Schaefer's writings include "New Sounds: A Listener's Guide to New Music" (Harper & Row, NY, 1987; Virgin Books, London, 1990); a biography of composer La Monte Young (in Sound and Light, Bucknell University Press, 1996); and "Songlines: The Voice in World Music" (Cambridge Companion to Singing, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2000). In May 2006, New York Magazine cited Schaefer as one of "the people whose ideas, power, and sheer will are changing New York" in its Influentials issue. First Dead show attended: He's pretty sure it was in 1977... or 1978... possibly at New York's Palladium... he just can't remember all the details.

All events are free! No tickets required. Seating is first come, first served. For information, call (212) 945-0505 or visit www.worldfinancialcenter.com.

The American Beauty Project MySpace page: www.myspace.com/americanbeautyproject.

If I'm not out of town I'll most likely try and check this out - should be fun.

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