Vocal and Musical Roots Powerhouse
American Roots Band: Cory Wong (guitar), Michael Bland (drums), Joe Savage (steel guitar), Jimmy Anton (bass)
A legendary Minneapolis rocker now by way of New Orleans and a well known New York actor, writer and international blues recording artist — both with deep ties to America’s broadly defined folk music traditions — will join the latest incarnation of the American Roots Revue for two shows at the Dakota, Saturday, March 7. Soul Asylum leader Dave Pirner and the multi-talented Guy Davis will team up with Minneapolis Gospel singer Robert Robinson and Troubadour and Community Builder Larry Long, with special guest, Native American singer Waubanewquay Day, opening with an Anishinabe Ojibwe Water Song.
American Roots Revue works from the core of America’s richest musical traditions of First Nation, gospel, blues, folk, rock and R&B. Now in its seventh iteration, the Revue has reinvented itself with its most musically diverse line up ever. The special night will feature solo performances by each new member doing their own songs, as well as exciting combinations of singers never seen or heard before onstage.
The revamped lineup of world-class performers is equaled only by the strong supporting musicians such as: Drummer Michael Bland (Prince, Soul Asylum, Paul Westerberg, et al); Guitarist Cory Wong (Bryan White, Alexander O’Neal, Foreign Motion, others); Pedal Steel player Joe Savage (Hank Thompson, Dan Wilson, Wanda Jackson, David Frizzell, John Gorka, and many others); Bass Player Jimmy Anton (Jonny Lang, Jesse Johnson, Doc Severson, others).
“There’s an oral and musical tradition in American music that produced songs that are still here, that goes way back beyond the time when recording technology became available and I think this is the kind of vibe the American Roots Revue is going after,” notes Pirner, a self-avowed Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger fan. “You know I’m a rock guy who moved to New Orleans to get closer to those musical roots. But really when you break it down, the Ramones and Woody are using the same play book. Plus, when Larry told me who was in the band, I jumped at the chance! I’m looking forward to the rehearsals as much as the gig.”
Pirner says he’s seen Long’s work in schools, singing and writing songs with kids, and working with others across communities: “It’s a special thing. It’s cut from that same Pete Seeger cloth.” Davis — who sang with Long and other performers, from Bruce Springsteen to Joan Baez and many others at Madison Square Garden to celebrate Seeger’s 90th birthday in 2009 — also is excited to be sharing the stage with Long, Robinson and Day.
“Larry’s a doer, that’s why I wanted to be part of the Revue,” explains Davis, who is the son of renowned parents, actors/writers Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis. As a kid, Davis attended summer camps at Seeger’s Camp Clearwater in upstate New York, only later to play at the annual Clearwater Festival as an adult and recording artist. “Larry’s music comes from the same places as mine and his work in different communities connects him right to the Pete Seeger world, that’s my crowd, too.”
Will there be any Seeger-styled sing-along’s at the Dakota?
“Well, I’ve got a version of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Little Red Rooster’ where there’s a part for the audience to sing along,” laughs Davis, who’s been writing new songs like crazy of late. His latest album, Legacy was picked as one of the Best CDs of the Year by National Public Radio (NPR), and the lead track on it, “Uncle Tom’s Dead” was chosen as one of the Best Songs of the Year, according to Davis’ Bio: “This of course is ironic as FCC rules won’t allow it to be played on the air, but it’s a fitting tribute none the less. The only other artist on both lists was Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys fame.”
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“…abundant talent” – Star Tribune Larry Long: A Troubadour for Social Justice, Star Tribune, 4/24/14