Willie Nile, A Great Storyteller
Willie Nile is one of the best singer-songwriters you don’t know, yet he’s been around long enough that he opened for The Who and recorded in the same studio at the same time as Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
Music maven that I am, I wasn’t familiar with Willie until a couple of years ago when I saw a picture of an elementary school friend playing with him. That was reason enough to check him out in a live performance. Now, I will see him every time he plays in the Boston area, especially if he’s at Club Passim.
Willie is a terrific storyteller, both in song and in his stage banter. Last night, he told one story that brought tears to my eyes. It was about recording in the same studio (different rooms, obviously) as John Lennon on what turned out to be the last night of John’s life. I remember that night so well and obviously Willie does, too.
Willie knows or knew so many of the great musicians of my time – the ones he mentioned last night include Lou Reed, Levon Helm, and Pete Townsend. Unfortunately, he did not meet John Lennon.
He sang a new song called ‘Levon’ which he said was not for the internet; I hope people realized what he was saying… It was an excellent tribute to Levon Helm.
The bassist Johnny ‘Pie’ Pisano regularly plays with Willie (or at least he’s played with Willie both times I’ve seen him) and he’s wonderful. Johnny Pie also provides backing vocals. Also playing last night was Peter Hoffman (who went to the same New York high school I attended) on rhythm and sometimes lead guitar. Peter played with Willie back in the day when they opened for The Who. He plays a gorgeous, lovingly used old Stratocaster.
They performed songs from throughout Willie’s catalog – ‘American Ride’, ‘Life on Bleecker Street’, ‘House of a Thousand Guitars’, ‘Les Champs Elysees’ and ‘Vagabond Moon’, to name a few. Willie asked the audience for suggestions and his comment on a number of them was ‘too complicated’!
Willie has great rapport with his audiences. He could play larger venues, but he chooses to play small, intimate rooms where he can experience the audience as much as the audience experiences him.
Go see him!
Posted on January 4, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged boston, Cambridge, Club Passim, concert review, Johnny Pisano, music, Peter Hoffman, Willie Nile. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.