A Celebration of Chuck Berry
w/ Low Cut Connie, Chuck Berry tribute band & The Jayhawks
The Lincoln Center, New York
Saturday 12 August 2017
It was my first ever time visiting New York. The sheer scale of the place is nothing like I’ve encountered, being from the tiny nation of New Zealand. On the bus ride in I decided to do an internet search to see if any gigs were on tonight. Surely there has to be something happening in the city that never sleeps?
I began to scroll through the search results, when something caught my eye: a free gig featuring Vernon Reid. Wait… The Vernon Reid? From Living Colour?
I saw Living Colour play in Auckland this year and the talent was unreal. And the very same guitarist was putting on a free show? Count me in!
The show was a free event at the Lincoln Center, one of the last of a series that had occurred over the summer. There were three acts all working together to pay tribute to the late, great, Chuck Berry.
Low Cut Connie
First act – Philadelphia based Low Cut Connie – were fantastic. They excelled due to the energy they put into their performance. I arrived ten minutes late (turns out that the New York subway is far trickier to navigate than the Boston subway that I had ridden yesterday), to see singer standing atop a piano stool theatrically while singing. A few songs in he ventured out into the crowd to sing as he ran up and down the aisles.
Chuck Berry tribute band
Vernon Reid had pieced together a great band to play Chuck Berry covers. The stage was incredibly crowded, with a grand piano, three piece brass section, bass, at least three guitarists, and a revolving roster of singers and extra guitarists all playing their part throughout the night.
Of course, the talent Reid had handpicked for the event were all fantastic. It was clear that they were all having fun onstage, dancing around as the played the hits of such a legendary artist. Living Colour singer Corey Glover even made an appearance, pretending to bicker with Reid between songs to provide funny banter.
The band ended with the obligatory “Johnny B Goode”, before a naughty encore of “Ding A Ling”.
By the time The Jayhawks arrived onstage it was dark, making the stage lights stand out and set the mood. Compared to the first two bands, The Jayhawks were more relaxed, with a sound that reminded me of Calexico.
All words and photos by Joseph James