Don McLean dishes his “American Pie” at the Greenwich Odeum

Don McLean Band

By Mike McKenney, Rock At Night New England

Venue: Greenwich Odeum-East Greenwich, Rhode Island-Friday, May 10, 2019

Don McLean

One of America’s best known singer-songwriters, Don McLean, performed at the Greenwich Odeum Friday. Making his third visit to the historic venue, McLean remarked that he “loved the Odeum and how great music sounded there”. The audience certainly agreed as McLean and his “Nashville Boys” as he calls his band, played through a full set of over 20 songs.

Smooth and effortless, McLean, backed by Nashville’s Tony Migliore (piano, keyboards), Jerry Kroon (drums), Brad Albin (bass), and Vip Vipperman (guitar) captivated with  “Crossroads”,” Botanical Gardens”, and struck gold on a fantastic version of “Castles in the Air”.

Don McLean

Throughout the evening, Don fascinated the audience with stories about his songs and some of the famous names from Drake to Elvis, that recorded them.
“Sampling”, says McLean, “has changed the way music is made”, joking that Drake now works for him due to Drake sampling McLean’s music.

To go along with the 2004 Songwriter’s Hall of Fame inductee’s own catalog, McLean did justice to a few Elvis, Buddy Holiday, Roy Orbison covers with Orbison’s “Crying” bringing the house to their feet.

While the whole evening was filled with great music, “Dreidel”, “Her Hair”, and “It’s a Beautiful Life” were special. However, to be honest, we were all there for one reason.

It was on Feb. 3, 1959, that tragedy struck at the heart of American music. A chartered plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, JP Richardson “The Big Bopper”, and (pilot) Roger Peterson, crashed just minutes after takeoff, in Mason City, Iowa, killing everyone aboard.

Don McLean

That dreadful day inspired Don McLean to write a song that encapsulated the loss of innocence the country felt when that plane went down. Don McLean has amassed over 40 gold and platinum records world-wide and while he continues to produce new music, it will always be his emblematic “American Pie” that the crowds come for. Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, “American Pie” is that rare psalm that is so woven into the fabric of  American culture, that it transcends all barriers of genre and age.

Most certainly everyone in the audience sang along, as McLean led the masses through a memorable rendition of “American Pie”.

Even after the concert was over, as they shuffled out of the Greenwich Odeum lobby, you could hear the crowds soft refrain of, Bye Bye Miss American Pie…, and probably all the way home too.


Mike McKenney

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