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Nile goes on an "American Ride"

City Winery, Boston, February 3, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Willie Nile is not exactly an imposing figure. He's not of stature in either height or physical presence, but that would be judging this veteran musician only by his looks. And that would be a huge mistake given the vitality and sheer joy that he brought to this special performance.

Nile, now 74, played from his 2013 album, "American Ride," from top to bottom, just as he did two weeks ago in New York. Of course, there was more to Nile than that. He acknowledged that some songs had never been performed live until these recent dates.

Nile has been labeled the New York Springsteen, and it's easy to see why. For starters, the two are friends and Nile has shared the stage with The Boss. But they're pretty much from the same musical cloth – roots rockers with an eye on America and digging into what life is about as they see it anyway.

And both are very physical, engaging performers. Nile easily moved about the stage breathing even more life into the songs.

At the outset, Nile said he was "really really" excited to be playing the Boston gig, especially given the New York show. "It was so much fun," Nile proclaimed.

With that, he lit into the taut roots rock singalong anthem of "This Is Our Time" and delivered time and again for the rest of the 100 minutes.

Nile was one for stories, some of which went on awhile. He seemed particularly proud to talk about his 105-year-old father, who still lives in Buffalo. Nile mentioned a forthcoming doc on him where his father steals the show.

In talking about his version of the late Jim Carroll's downer of a song, but oh-so-good anyway, "People Who Died," Nile said that he actually met several friends of Carroll's who knew the people in the song – all true, according to Nile.

He also would pay homage to the music of yesteryear with a great cover of Joe Jones' "California Sun" segueing into The Ramones' "Sheena is a Punk Rocker." Nile showed his musical diversity by incorporating a few country songs as well.

Nile also had a superb backing trio including guitarist Jimi K. Bones, bassist Johnny Pisano and drummer Jon Webber, who set a very muscular beat from start to finish (well, except for when Nile played "The Crossing" solo on the piano).

Of course, Nile never had the success of Springsteen. He had label issues back in the '80s, resulting in no music for a decade! The music business also can be a flavor-of-the-month club.

But through thick and thin, Nile has persevered. He still puts out excellent records – not only "American Ride," but also 2021's "The Day the Earth Stood Still," of which he unfortunately played zero songs.

At this stage, it's almost a given that Nile will never reach the commercial heights. As he made clear in words and his music, that's not what concerns Nile. He's just happy to have had a career period and continuing to play music. And we are all the better for it.

Very long-running Boston band – since 1973 - The Nervous Eaters opened with a meat-and-potatoes ear friendly rock and roll set. Steve Cataldo has led the quartet for decades, and while they were always really a Boston New Wave/punk band that failed to achieve widespread "success," they have continued releasing new music including a CD in November.

And while three of the four members are gray heads, the music sounded fresh with a commitment. Cataldo and Adam Sherman handled the sometimes jangly guitar licks, propelling the songs.

They closed with their biggest hit, "Loretta." It may seem dated in the respect that these aging rockers are still singing about getting chicks, but a good song is a good song. And The Nervous Eaters had that and more.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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