By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: The Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, Florida–May 23, 2019
What does one think when he/she hears the name “David Crosby”? Crosby, Stills, Nash? The Byrds? The word “legend”? Most likely, all of the above. Perhaps the words “prolific” or “staying-power” may even come to mind. In October 2018, Crosby released yet another solo album Here If You Listen. He embarked on a 23-city tour with his Sky Trails band early in May and will continue across the country until the end of June. The Cameron Crowe documentary Remember My Name premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in Los Angeles and New York on July 19th.
David Crosby and his Sky Trails band, consisting of James Raymond (keys), Mai Leisz (bass), Steve DiStanislao (drums), Jeff Pevar (guitar), and Michelle Willis (keys), arrived at the Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, Florida, to a sold-out house. Wearing a rose-colored crochet cap and sporting his trademark bushy mustache and long locks, David Crosby walked onto the stage with an acoustic guitar, and his five-piece band in tow. He began the evening with CSN’s “In My Dreams” and then “Morrison”, a song by his collaboration with James Raymond and Jeff Pevar, also known as “CPR”. More nostalgia followed with songs by CSN and The Byrd’s, much to the audience’s pleasure, as I noticed few cell phones raised in the air, as the crowd listened intently to every note and lyric.
Crosby quipped, chatted, and joked between song breaks, showing much charm, making me think, “No wonder so many women fell for him in the 60s.” There is an aura of charisma that encircles the gifted songwriter and musician, even at 77, shows no sign of wear and tear (despite his self-deprecating remarks about his colorful past and use of recreational drugs).
Crosby announced the next song saying, “I’m sorry. You have to suffer through a brand new song. I hope we can make it through it. I’ll wing it”. He proceeded to sing “I Think I”, afterwards asking, “Did you like ?” As a female voice in the audience responded, “Beautiful!”, the crowd bathed him in a sea of applause.
As Crosby sang CSN’s “Guinnevere”, I sat back and reveled in his voice, noting its pureness and beauty, not affected or weathered by time. The acoustics in the venue provided an ethereal experience to each song, as if one could time-travel 50 years back to Woodstock, listening to the harmonies of one of the greatest bands of the last century. I was very impressed with the harmonies of the Sky Trails band, particularly with Michelle Willis, whose voice blended perfectly with Crosby’s. After a standing ovation, which was one of many, the band rocked with “Long Time Gone” showing the versatility of Crosby’s blues chops. Somebody in the audience yelled “You are on fire!” and Crosby responded by patting himself down.
At this point in the evening, Crosby introduced each member of the band, telling a little ditty about each, praising their musicianship. When he introduced Canadian Michelle Willis, he alluded to our current government, saying, “She promises we can move to her garage in Toronto if things don’t work out.”
A really touching moment was when he introduced James Raymond, as producer/bandleader, and the “best writing partner of my life.” He followed saying, “He’s my son!” Having reunited with session musician and long-lost-son James Raymond, during a period when Crosby was seriously ill, both have worked together extensively with songwriting and touring endeavors.
Crosby announced the show would have an intermission, saying, “Go out and smoke a joint!” After the 20-minute break, the band returned for more memorable songs and cheeky moments of ad-libbed dialogue. A person in the audience yelled, “David, what is that pi doing on stage?” Behind Crosby was a miniature Stonehenge arch (think Spinal Tap). Crosby told a story about the mischievous band members gluing his foot to a box during a concert in Australia and then later asked, “Did anybody go out and smoke a joint?”
An inaudible remark from the audience was heard and Crosby responded, “Don’t cut your hair, man. You know what happens?” He raised his hand into the air and let it go limp. The audience roared with laughter. He then recalled how he “was a junkie” and credited Jackson Browne with helping him finish a song which is about “choice and chance—the two meet like rivers dancing with each other.” Raymond began playing a gorgeous piano introduction and Crosby sang “Delta”.
The evening continued with more political references as Crosby discussed watching former President Eisenhower on a black and white TV warning “Beware of the military industrial complex.” He noted that “corporations have gotten too big” and they are “buying Congress” and jumped into “What Are Their Names”…
I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand
A new song “Janet”I really enjoyed, which included the soulful singing of Michelle Willis. She is a solo artist in her own right, and I plan to seek out more of her music.
The evening ended on a rockin’ note with the audience standing and clapping to “CSN’s “Almost Cut My Hair” and a very timely encore singing “Ohio”. I am most sure every audience member walked away satisfied—and grateful, to have spent such a special evening with a legend. I know I was.
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