Peggy Young is of course Neil Youngs wife, and even though she's often performed with Neil over the years, WHO KNEW that she could really sing and write a decent song?
Well it turns out that she can, and I guess she finally decided to put her songs together and record them, and now she's playing some shows in the BA (and possibly other places, I don't know) to promote her new album.
The Attic is a very cool upstairs room in the heart of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz that is set up as an art gallery/perfomance space/cafe and it was packed full (I would guesstimate around 250 people) for this show.
I can only speak for myself when I say that the ONLY reason I went to this show was the possibility of seeing Neil perform at least a little bit, but I recognized quite a number of Neil regulars in the house so I have to think that this was a motivator for many others as well.
Over the years I have seen Peggy sing with Neil many, many times but have never really paid her much attention (how often do you really notice ANY backup singers, unless they're featured) and I was not expecting much from her here; I was thinking a Linda McCartney comparison at best, Yoko Ono at WORST.
But as I walked in and stood in the back during her first song I was immediately impressed with the quality of her voice, pleasantly surprised with her style and tone. The next thing that jumped out was the quality of the small group she was playing with. She had Anthony Crawford on acoustic guitar, Rick Rosas on electric bass and Ben Keith on pedal steel/dobro. All three of these guys are top notch players and the group sound, with Peggy also strumming an acoustic, was really clean & spare, with the sweet sound of the pedal steel rising in and out really well.
The songs were not bad at all; they definitely had an influence (guess who) and the music flowed with a soft country/folk lilt that was really nice. I was impressed.
The crowd was seated & standing in the back and along the sides of the room and was really into it; calling out her name, applauding & whistling loudly after each song, but then pin-drop quiet during the music.
As the show went on I began to realize that Peggys voice lacked the power that you normally hear in big-league singers, and her dynamic range was limited, but still she sang very nicely and this is a small criticism.
After finishing a song about 45 minutes into the set her group left the stage for a moment and then came right back out again, this time adding a 2nd guitar player; an old balding dude who sat in the back with a harmonica strapped to his neck(!)
Clearly all of us who were there to see Neil were very excited and a loud cheer went up when Peggy said, "We found our sitar player". The energy in the room immediately went up about 5 notches, but still the crowd was into Peggy and it showed.
They began again with more songs I'd never heard, the first with Neil playing an electric guitar that did have a sitar sound; and even if it hadn't been Neil the extra musician gave the sound more depth, and along with the added energy in the room (BEAMING faces through-out the audience!!) the show really took off at this point. They played two more songs, with Neil very much in the background; only his one-of-a-kind harmonica adding amazing color and also some great harmonizing with Peggy.
Now I have to say here that I am a HUGE Neil Young fan and it was GREAT to see him onstage again, even if just in the background. He was rockin' out as usual and he looked and sounded GREAT! Healthy, happy and relaxed (probably because he was out of the spotlight for once) and it was easy to see the pride on his face as he was watching his wife the whole time he was onstage.
Well, the show was really going good now and I was psyched and settled in; it was really set up to become great!!
But then, after three songs and an hour into the set the band left the stage again to a huge ovation, with Peggy waving and thanking the crowd. I thought, "No way! It CAN'T be over, she's only been on an hour and it's just getting really GOOD!!"
I stayed put for a couple of minutes and many people were still hanging out with no major rush to the door, so because I came in after the set started I thought maybe they knew something. I asked a guy who had been standing in the soundboard area if the show was over or was it just an intermission. He assured me that it was an intermission, and I became even MORE psyched, thinking a whole 2nd set with this group will be classic!
I stepped outside to a perfect Santa Cruz summer evening, had a nice refreshing smoke and went back in ready for a great 2nd set of unique music, only to learn that the dude in the mixer was wrong and the show was indeed OVER! Just one hour, and the three songs with Neil was the encore.
Needless to say I was VERY disappointed!! Whether Neil was playing or not I really feel that one hour is not a fair amount of time for any show, especially when Peggy is charging $35 at the door at a venue where shows usually run $10 - $20.
So WHAT A BUMMER!! Here was a show that had real potential to be GREAT and was already very good, only to be brought down by being WAY too short.
Now I'm a big fan of jazz concerts and they rarely run more than 1:15 - 1:30 so I'm used to too-short shows, but this was ridiculous. To me an hour just isn't professional. IMO if you don't have enough original material to fill an 1:30 then you work up some cover tunes, and with Neil & this excellent band on the stage I was hoping for some interesting re-workings of a Neil tune or three with Peggy singing, which would have been really cool....... but no. I completely understand that they didn't want this to be about Neil, but they could easily have done more. Instead, $35 for one hour, thank you very much.
There are many diverse aspects that must come together to create a great live performance, and IMO Peggy covered ALL the hardest ones tonight, and then just as she was about to score the touchdown she dropped the ball at the two yard line (please excuse the football metaphor).
She is also playing this Tuesday, a "record release party" at the tiny Little Fox in Redwood City. During what I thought was the break I was totally planning to spend Tuesday evening in Redwood City, getting REALLY excited to see this show/Neil in such an intimate space. But now I just don't think I can pay up ($30 advance - $32 door) for such a short show again. Even if it wasn't expensive at all, an hour is just TOO SHORT!
So in closing, this show was ALMOST one-for-the-ages for me, but in the end I was left VERY unsatisfied. What there was, was very good.... there just wasn't enough. If the show had just been a half hour longer I would have been screaming from the rooftops to GO TO THIS SHOW! But as it was tonight it is hard for me to recommend it.
However, if you're a huge Neil fan Tuesday will still be fun, and even if you just like nicely crafted, emotionally rich soft country/folk but have a short attention span I think the Little Fox will be a winner. And who knows, maybe they'll play more. For the fans who go I sure hope so.
If Pegi Young wasn't Neil's wife she wouldn't even have a gig. Anyone who pays good money to see the wife of an artist (with the expectations of that artist actually appearing) deserves to be dissappointed. Pegi Young's appearance on KPIG yesterday morning should have been the tip off. Even surrounded by a crack band she was very lackluster and clearly out of her league compared to the Harmony Grits and Ginny Mitchell who are gifted artists and were on the same show.
Caveat Emptor !!
give pegi a break. she has one release that comes out next tuesday--why would you expect the show to go over 45 minutes?
there was an opening act--the moore brothers, unfortunately the guy in the audience on the left side with the white hair was interrupting the performance with all his yelling and certainly made the audience ill at ease. fortunately, I think he passed out backstage before pegi came out with her band.
no doubt the door was to mostly pay the band. ben keith can't come that cheap.......maybe he can.
looked to me like he was playing autoharp during neil's "sitar" guitar part.
I was pleasantly surprised by Pegi's talent when I saw her sing with Neil a few years back. It's true back-up singers are often overlooked, I've seen Pegi a sing at Bridge School Benefits but I didn't really notice her until Neil did that solo acoustic benefit at the BCT a couple octobers ago. Pegi sang a few songs with him then and she was a delight. I wouldn't call her Linda or Yoko.
I'm mildly curious, but not $30 worth.
>>>Anyone who pays good money to see the wife of an artist (with the expectations of that artist actually appearing) deserves to be dissappointed<<<
I knew what I was getting into, and I was completely prepared to be disappointed because of poor performance, but there is NO excuse for saying goodnight after just an hour, no matter WHO you are or if you don't have enough material, which was the point I long-windedly tried to make.
The legendary Al Green also performs just an hour and my reaction to him is exactly the same. I don't have a problem with how much the show cost, but as I said, even if it was free an hour is not professional, and even though SHE is not a pro, she is surrounded by them.
As for Neil expectations, I'm generally not a gamblin' man, but for me Neil is right below Jerry on my musical hero list so $35 down for even a small chance to see Neil sing a couple of songs was an easy bet to make. As it turned out, if the show had just been 20-30 minutes longer WITHOUT a Neil tune it still would have been a winning bet; if the show had been exactly the same WITH a couple, or even ONE Neil jewel at the end it would have been more than a double-down winner.
If you don't play you can't win, and with Neil getting along in years (and with the Bridge keeping him from playing more in the BA - he actually believes if he played more around home it would hurt Bridge attendence) I'm gonna' take my chances when they come.
BTW, David Bromberg is at the Little Fox tonight, but for me it's Will Bernard at the glorious closet - The Kuumbwa!
I was thinking about going to the Little Fox show. That's definitely a band worth seeing even without Neil, but I've listened to Pegi's songs and was not at all impressed. I'd love to see Neil but an hour long set for $30+ is inexcusable...
Let us know how Will at the Kuumbwa turns out... He's one of my favorite players. He's also playing the Fillmore Jazz Festival next Sunday if folks are interested. Scott Amendola and Wil Blades are playing too... www.fillmorejazzfestival.com.
"but there is NO excuse for saying goodnight after just an hour"
Yes there is. Pegi Young doesn't have many songs to perform. The reason that she's doing these shows is to showcase her new CD. And she's using her husband's good name and reputation to being people in. I heard her yesterday on KPIG and based on that performance I'd have to say that she is without any talent as a vocalist despite being backed by the best band that money can buy.
Hey I understand you rolling the dice in an effort to get the chance to see Neil in any setting. And if he played three songs then you were rewarded, although your expectations were not exceeded by any means.
The reason that they acted like they would be playing another set was because while you and the others were staying in your seat expecting more, Neil and Pegi were heading back to La Honda in that vintage Caddy smoking a fatty.
>>>Yes there is. Pegi Young doesn't have many songs to perform<<<
As I said in my review, IMO that reason doesn't hold water. To me it's about respect for an audience, which is something Neil has almost always shown in abundance, so it's not a reach to think there would have been some talk about it here.
It's easy enough to work up some covers and fit in an extra solo or two to flesh out a show, and I think she's really dropping the ball here because if there was just a small amount of extra effort put in to this it could be a very successful show (I'm NOT an easy mark, and in the room I thought her singing was good enough) that would draw big, satisfied crowds who would then buy her album. As it is, unless she makes some simple improvements this will be a quickly forgotten project by a privileged, endulged wife of a star.
I heading off to the Little Fox tonight to see David Bromberg. Only expecting an hour show. He did a radio interview recently talking about doing only 1 relatively short set. Maybe if you knew that the show wouldn't be very long perhaps you wouldn't feel disappointed? Peggy doing a set, with Neil sitting in, and some terrific musicians backing her up? Doesn't sound so bad to me. If I wasn't going to a show tonight (that also cost $30), I'd spring for it.
>>>Maybe if you knew that the show wouldn't be very long perhaps you wouldn't feel disappointed<<<
I agree with that, and if the show had been a clunker I would have been HAPPY it was over; my problem was that it was just getting really good, and God knows us hippie band/Deadheads are trained to expect a bit more than just an hour.
Anyway, on with the shows!!!
-Will Bernard tonight
-John Doe, or possibly The National on Wed.
-Hot Tuna on Thur.
-Les Claypool on Fri.
And I would wager that ALL of those shows go at least 1:30 or more!
>>>To me it's about respect for an audience, which is something Neil has almost always shown in abundance, so it's not a reach to think there would have been some talk about it here.>>>>
I guess that you've never been to Yoshi's then. Most shows there run just north of the one hour mark as they schedule 2 shows a night. I very rarely feel disappointed when I see McCoy Tyner and his world class band perform a sensational one hour show without encore. In fact I've gotten back on line for the second show when I see an act that really compels me to. I've never once taken it as a show of disrespect.
Now would you have felt better if Pegi played an additional 40 minutes of her original material before bringing out Neil for for the final three songs? I don't think so. It sounds like what you really wanted was more Neil Young. Perhaps an additional half hour/ 45 minutes. Right? But you paid for a ticket to see Pegi Young not her husband and it sounds like you got a treat that you found didn't taste as sweet as you thought it would.
No. No, that's not it at all.
I wish I could write more succinctly so people wouldn't miss my point, but I'm a wordy SOB.
The show was fine BEFORE Neil came out and with another 15 - 30 minutes it would have been sastifying even if he had never come out. IMO it simply felt too short.
And I do understand the jazz argument; I'm at Yoshi's a couple of times a month, I'm at the Kuumbwa two or three times a month and I see jazz shows in other venues all around the BA, so as I said in my review I'm used to short jazz sets (I have issues with many jazz shows I see as well, but that's a completely different discussion) but 1:15 is the norm for those early/late jazz events and fifteen minutes is enough to make a difference. At least it would have last night.
Plus jazz is a different animal, where ALOT more is going on in that 1:15. And while I understand the necessity of jazz groups having to play shorter sets in clubs and I really like the smaller rooms (the Kuumbwa especially) I'm usually MUCH happier when I can see a jazz group play a larger room for 1 full show where they will play a straight 1:30 - 45 as Wayne Shorter does; or even better, when the group takes a break after 45 - 60 minutes and then plays a full 2nd set to the SAME audience, as McCoy did at the Herbst a couple of months ago or as Nicholas Payton did on Saturday at Stanford. Paytons 1st set was played to set-up the 2nd and it was a brilliant show. (He's fucking great, BTW!)
And yeah, I also stay for both sets at Yoshi's or the K if it's really happening, but at least for me there is a different vibe from the musicians when they know the audience has turned over and I think it often effects how they set-up their two shows. I ALWAYS prefer one show - two sets, in ANY show I'm seeing.
In the end it's just my opinion and accusing her of a lack of respect may have been harsh, but I didn't boo her or anything. I just won't support her.
(And I'm bummed that events transpired against me that kept me from going to the Kuumbwa tonight to see Will Bernard, who will most certainly play two FULL sets. Beyond the great tunes I was looking forward to the extra satisfaction of seeing some musicians digging DEEP. Oh well, I can't see 'em all.)
How was Will Bernard?
>>>How was Will Bernard?<<<
See! I knew I write too much and then people don't read my posts!! (see the end of my last post)
I got caught up helping my dear mother with things around her house and it got too late to go.
Who does she think she is DSO..??..
>>See! I knew I write too much and then people don't read my posts!! (see the end of my last post)
I got caught up helping my dear mother with things around her house and it got too late to go.
Sorry I didn't read your last post at all, just saw that you hadn't posted a review yet... Oh well, sorry you missed him... He'll come around again... Just saw that he's opening for Los Lobos at Montalvo July 22, that should be a good one!