Review + Photos by L Paul Mann
September 7, 2016 | Hollywood, CA – Gerry Beckley, best known as one of the founding members of the classic rock group America, played a special concert, debuting material from his latest solo album, Carousel, Wednesday night, September 7. The unusual private party at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood, was a stark contrast to the normal rock shows held for decades at the iconic nightclub. In place of the usual burger eating and beer drinking crowd dressed in black leather jackets and torn jeans, was a well dressed mostly older audience. Invited guests were treated to an endless array of gourmet food and drinks from an open bar, featuring top shelf liquor. The appreciative audience was already in great spirits and celebrating in full party mode, by the time opening act Janey Street took the stage.
If it wasn’t already a strange departure from an average night at the busy nightclub, Street brought a set of unlikely Americana music, created from her real life story of unusual happenstance. The bluesy singer took her name from her youth in New York where she grew up a street kid. After several false starts in the music business and a career of mundane survival jobs from being a “terrible waitress” to a “really bad clown,” the singer was at a crossroads, with critics telling her she was too old to proceed in the music business. But, after heeding the advice of her friend the inimitable singer songwriter Janis Ian, she moved to Nashville and jump started her music career. In 2009 she released “The Streets Less Traveled”, a well received R&B roots album.
That led to an offer to join Blue Elan records and she came to Los Angeles to record a newly released album chock full of personal experiences. Street and her band of accomplished musicians played an hour set, politely received by an appreciative audience, largely unfamiliar with her music. The set of original tunes, culled from a lifetime of experiences, brought musical elements from the areas Street has called home. New York R&B, Nashville country, and California classic rock sounds are blended into an interesting sound that reflects a genuine Americana sound.
By the time Gerry Beckley took the stage, also with an accomplished backing band, the well oiled crowd had swarmed the front of the stage. The charismatic singer songwriter, chatted frequently with the crowd between songs, reinforcing his inherent story telling skills as an accomplished songwriter. His 90 minute set vacillated from his latest material on the newly released Carousel, and some of the most well known classic hits of America. Beckley showcased his multi instrumental talents on the recording, playing most of the instruments himself. The new material blended perfectly with the well known America sound and featured a few classic covers that can be found on the new album. These included, a haunting version of “Natures Way,” from the seminal American rock group Spirit, and a riveting cover of “To Each And Everyone,” dedicated “in memory of another Gerry, Gerry Rafferty.” Beckley played most of the personal and storied twelve tracks from the new album, including a song he wrote with Grammy winning songwriter Dan Wilson, entitled “No Way I’m Gonna Lose You”. The set was punctuated by some rock drenched covers of America classics, like “Sister Golden Hair” and “Lonely People.” The nostalgic hits were augmented with vintage photo and video projections of Beckley, with his original America compatriots Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek. Beckley commented that the last time he had played the Whisky-A-Go-Go was in the early 70’s, back when the group was still a trio of singers, adding to the nostalgia of the night. Peek left the group in 1978 and died in 2011. Beckley and Bunnell have kept America a relevant touring band for 46 years.
For more information on Gerry Beckley and the just released Carousel recording: http://www.gerrybeckley.com/
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