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Willie Nile Remembers Bo Diddley


06/03/2008
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(antiMusic) Now about that DVD he mentioned, here is the official PR: "Willie Nile is a great artist," exclaims fellow singer/songscribe Lucinda Williams. "If there were any justice in the world, I'd be opening for him instead of him for me." Injustice has its benefits, of course one of which is that it's still possible to see Willie Nile play an intimate venue. It was on one such night, the eve of release of Nile's latest studio album, Streets of New York, that Nile was captured both on audio and video. The resulting CD and DVD (sold separately), each titled Willie Nile Live from the Streets of New York, will hit the streets of the RED-distributed 00:02:59 label on July 22.

The story of the Willie Nile Live from the Streets of New York CD and DVD begins with the release of his comeback album in 2006 titled simply Streets of New York. "Once I picked the songs to record for the album," notes Willie, "I realized they all had a connection to New York City, either by substance, or just the fact that I'd written them all here or was influenced by the city in some way. It wasn't a concept album, but the pulse and electricity of the city seemed to flow through each of the songs in a connecting way."

A great album about New York City begged for a great album-release party, for which Willie selected the Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side. The reviews had begun to come in, the initial rehearsals were energized, and all involved felt that this performance could be something very special. The show sold out in no time. To that end, 00:02:59's Abe Bradshaw suggested bringing in some cameras. And soon both the audio and video will be available on both CD and DVD, with bonus interview footage contained on the DVD.

Willie has toured across the country with The Who at the personal request of the band and has shared the stage with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Levon Helm, Elvis Costello, and Joey Ramone. His live performances are legendary.

The live set features Willie's core band (The Worry Dolls) along with some special guests. Andy York (John Mellencamp) played guitar; Brad Albetta (Sean Lennon, Teddy Thompson, Martha Wainwright) manned the bass; and the drummer was Rich Pagano (Fab Faux, Roseanne Cash). They were joined by long-time friend, Jimmy Vivino, ("Late Night with Conan O'Brien") on guitar, mandolin and keyboards and Frankie Lee, who co-wrote a number of the songs with Willie, on percussion and vocals. The band was introduced by WFUV and XM radio host Pete Fornatale.

Says Willie, "I was not onstage that night to prove anything. After all these years of living and learning and struggling and growing and hanging out in the underbelly of this great city I was no longer thinking along those lines at all. I had nothing to prove. Streets of New York had already been honored, championed and praised by some of the great artists, writers and publications of the day, for which I shall always be grateful.

"This was no American Idol. Fame is not what I was after Celebrity Nation be damned. That's all fool's gold in a land of false prophets and facelifts as far as I'm concerned. Beauty and truth are what I was after. This was real, for me anyway. I was not the center of attention, nor did I need to be. I was simply there to serve the songs, to tell the stories and hopefully do justice to the music, and to have fun making music with my friends, which I surely did. It was a victory just to be there. And I felt it that night, in spades."

"The band played its heart out with all the fire and passion you could hope for," he concludes. "Everyone gave everything they had and left nothing on the table. You can see it on the screen and you can hear it in the speakers. For that night, we were one. For that one night, we were brothers. For that one night we shared a common dream. We were one with the songs and the night and the city. A fellow can't ask for more than that."

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