Steve Earle Presents John Henry’s Friends

City Winery / New York City, NY

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Photos by Ehud Lazin

On Monday, December 5th, Steve Earle lead the second annual benefit concert at Town Hall to raise funds for children diagnosed with autism. All net proceeds raised by ticket sales were donated to the Keswell School, an educational program for children and young adults with autism. This is a cause close to Steve’s heart as his 6-year old son, John Henry, lives with autism. Also on board were Graham Nash, Shawn Colvin and Steve’s legendary backing band, the Dukes.

The evening began with a fine, acoustic set featuring Steve and Shawn supporting each other on their respective tunes, with sweet solo moments including her track “Sunny Came Home.” Colvin described her love for Steve’s work as being similar to “how many must have felt about the Beatles.” The highlight was their duet, “Tell Me Moses,” from their new album, Colvin and Earle out on Fantasy Records. The infectious chorus had the audience echoing.

“Water is wide, milk and honey on the other side. Keep on travelling along.”

Earle described gathering inspiration from recent trips to Jerusalem. “If you’re a songwriter like me, stories just pop out of the stones in a place like that!”

Next came Graham Nash, accompanied by electric guitar maestro Shane Fontayne, who produced Graham’s latest release, This Path Tonight. At age 74, Nash looks fit and sounds fantastic. He performed new tunes and old classics including “Our House,” to which he provided the back story.

“One day I was out antique shopping with Joni Mitchell. She came upon a lovely vase and just had to have it. When we got back home, “I lit the fire,” while “she put flowers in the vase.” I looked out the window at our “two cats in the yard,” and sat down at the piano. The rest is history.”

Nash also recalled performing in New York City with the Hollies over 50 years past. “That was a long, long time ago!”

He finished his set with “Chicago.” The rousing chorus, “We can change the world. Rearrange the World” still resounds with power and urgency. Nash’s lively stage presence and sublime vocals leave no doubt that he’s still got “it.”

Steve Earle returned with the Dukes to perform his classic album, Guitar Town, in its entirety for the first time in New York in 30 years. The band was tight and hit all the licks, with married couple Chris and Eleanor Masterton sometimes stealing the show on guitar and fiddle respectively. Highlights included “Hillbilly Highway” and “My Old Friend The Blues.” The evening finished with all of the artists returning to the stage to perform Nash’s CSNY hit, “Teach Your Children Well,” to which the audience sang along. Seeing so much talent assembled on one stage left the crowd buzzing with a warm afterglow of harmony and positive vibrations. All the world seemed right, if only for a moment.

-Mike Cobb

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