I wasn't about to let a little (okay, a lot) of rain deter me from going to Saturday night's Shelabration at Summerstage (+Edward Champion +John M. Osborne +Lara Osborne
were fellow brave troupers.) And it was a lot of fun! John Ventimiglia killed singing a bluesy version of "The Ugliest Man in Town" and, in the second half, following on someone else's Johnny Cash-inflected "A Boy Named Sue" with the more ribald sequel "Father of a Boy Named Sue", aping Silverstein's gravel-tenor singing voice (a difficult feat to pull off, I should add.) Richard Belzer had a blast - and so did the audience - hamming it up to "Cover of the Rolling Stone"; Annabella Sciorra did a fine rendition of "The Smoke-Off" and trombonist Roswell Rudd did the Dr. Hook version of "Freakin' at the Freakers Ball" (which drives harder than the Dixieland-inflected version on Shel's album of the same name.) Ricky Jay read poems in voice-over. Pat Dailey sang a Bush-I-era topical song which was pretty clever (and made me wish he'd release an adult-centric album of his collaborations with Shel to follow up "Underwater Land.") Bobby Bare Jr., did a lovely version of "This Guitar is For Sale" (though, alas, his "Things I Didn't Say" - one of my favorite Shel lyrics, and a song Dennis Locorriere pretty much owns - was far too overproduced, with the aforementioned lyrics getting lost in the mix.) Lou Reed and Emily Haynes duetted on "25 Minutes to Go" and of course Lou was going to interpolate a more contemporary spin, even though it kind of misses the point, but it's Lou Reed.
Then Laurie Anderson showed up to do her version of "The Giving Tree." There is no way around this: it sucked ass. Granted, she's a taste I have not acquired, having been turned off her spoken-word style about 20 years or so ago, but the creepy electronica ambience did not fit, not when Shel's original voice-over is so widely available on YouTube now. And then she had to go and break down her gear while Melvin van Peebles was rambling his way through Rosalie's Good Eats Cafe. Not cool.
That aside, Hal Willner produced a mighty good evening (if overlong at about 3 hours) and I pretty much want my copy of EVERY THING ON IT ASAP (or at least as close to the September 20 pub date as possible.) Though there was an evil part of me that wished Marilyn Manson could have shown up to sing "Get My Rocks Off"....