David Crosby and Friends turned in a splendid two and a half hour show, May 22, 2018, at the Paramount Theater in Austin, TX. They performed 17 songs spanning his career from Crosby, Stills and Nash to Crosby, Pevar and Raymond, and now to his ever- more productive solo catalog.
Crosby has always been a wonderful songwriter and singer. His sterling tenor voice has great range and depth. He has been an artist who has strived for beauty, honesty and has not retreated from confronting serious political and social realties.
About two-thirds through the show Tuesday night, Crosby recounted one of his darker chapters in introducing the song “ Delta. “:
“I was a junkie at that time. My friend Jackson ( Browne ) came over to a house where I hiding in Santa Barbara and said, “ Croz, you haven’t written anything in awhile.” Crosby said that he was working on it, but he was more interested in getting loaded. Jackson said “ I want you to finish it. “Crosby protested “ But I have no piano ! “ So Jackson drove Crosby over to Warren Zevon’s house, where there was a piano. Jackson Browne told David Crosby “ Stay Here, Finish It “ Crosby said, “I did, I did finish it.’
It’s this quality of honesty that has always impressed me about David Crosby’s music. The performance Tuesday night did not disappoint. Beginning with “ In My Dreams ,“ David and his outstanding band wove a tapestry of gorgeous harmonies and crackling jazz fusion riffs, marked by sparkling piano and scorching guitar solos.
The current band of musicians include Crosby’s son, James Raymond, on keyboards along with Canadian Michelle Willis, also on keyboards. Both complement each other wonderfully in their style, and Willis’ vocals shined in combination with the voices of Crosby, Raymond and Pevar.
David Crosby developed as a folk and rock musician for many years, and what is interesting now is to see the evolution into jazz. Like Joni Mitchell, Crosby has been expanding his colorful artistic palette and the results have been most gratifying. Some of the more striking highlights on the show were the songs that he performed from the CPR period including “Morrison “( about Jim Morrison of The Doors ),”At The Edge “ and “ Breathless “( the song Crosby dedicated to his spouse, Jan Crosby ).
Among the other highlights of the show was the surprise appearance of Shaun Colvin ( Austin resident and gifted songwriter/singer ) who performed Joni Mitchell’s “ For Free “ with Crosby. The country-inspired arrangement worked very well. They also played Tamalpais High ( At About 3), from the first Crosby solo album “ If Only I Could Remember My Name “, which featured terrific work by Bassist Mai Agan and Steve Distanislao on drums. Both Agan and Distanislao provided solid bottom to the music for the entire night.
Like Fleetwood Mac, it’s refreshing to see both male and female musicians equally regarded, supported and cherished in their musical endeavors.
I learned that the Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX is over 102 years old. This 1200- seat facility is an intimate space. High above over the stage is a cameo mandala- like design on the ceiling of a winged angel playing a harp.
I thought “how appropriate for this show “especially as I heard David Crosby sing the lyrics of “ Guinnevere “
“ Seagulls circling endlessly,
Singing silent harmonies.
We shall be free.”
Indeed, David Crosby and Friends provided an evening of music that created a lifting force from the jazzy “ Sky Trails “ ( about a female spy ) to the strangely evocative “ Déjà Vu”, and “ Wooden Ships “ , to the simple “ My Country Tis Of Thee” and the roaring anthem encore, “ Ohio “. This show delivered and proved to be most satisfying !
David Crosby and Friends are in great form, and it will be enjoyable to see what future work will emerge.
May It Be So.