Words by Bill San Antonio | Photos by Mark Dershowitz

She somehow looks even more petite in person, slinking out of the Bowery subway station and darting across the sidewalk to the Bowery Ballroom, where she bangs on one of the tall black doors and waits, takes short glances to her left and to her right and is then shuffled inside. It is dusk on a Monday night on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and, wearing a striped dress and ankle boots, she blends effortlessly into the rush hour foot traffic of New York City hipsters and burnt out office drones and young parents clinging to even younger children. She is nine-time Grammy award winner Norah Jones, and tonight she is the lynchpin of a lineup that includes Ryan Adams, Patrick Carney, Jakob Dylan, Kim Gordon, Butch Walker and a cavalcade of others ranging from The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon to That 70s Show’s Danny Masterson, each playing a song or two apiece in honor of the legendary Neil Young.

The occasion is Neil Fest, because of course that’s the name, and in addition to its star-studded cast it’s even drawn its share of controversy. The night before, while hanging out at a local watering hole, Carney was allegedly confronted by Jack White, in town to record a performance for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert with his band The Dead Weather, and challenged to a fight he later tweeted he declined and White denied even took place. On Monday, the house band’s bassist referred to one of Carney’s later-deleted tweets, declaring the Black Keys drummer was a lover and not a fighter. The crowd giggled, Carney played a song, and the incident was never spoken of again.

The second night of the two-day festival featured its share of surprises — Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill, not on the initial bill, appeared for a stripped-down take on “Unknown Legend” — and rockers — Dylan led the congregation with a poignant “Ohio” following his cut of “Southern Man,” and Walker & Co. later capped the show with a roaring “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Singing backup vocals with Sasha Dobson and Jillette Johnson for most of the evening, Jones joined Adams for a subdued cover of “Old Man” and later returned for her rendition of “Don’t Be Denied” that briefly slowed the tempo to a much-needed, intimate crawl.


TheWaster.com | New York City