Joe D’Urso sang a passionate version of “All I Needed Was You,” a Steven Van Zandt-written song that has been part of the Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes repertoire since the ’70s, at the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair on March 4. Longtime Jukes member Glenn Alexander joined him on lead guitar.
“If I’ve got a Juke onstage, I’m not gonna waste that opportunity,” said D’Urso afterwards.
Musicians played with each other frequently throughout the show, which unofficially kicked off the 2022 Light of Day WinterFest; shows in this annual fundraising festival to raise money for the fight against Parkinson’s Disease will continue, mostly in Asbury Park, through March 13, with the main concert scheduled for March 12 at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red bank.
The Outpost has been presenting Light of Day concerts like this one annually since 2015 (except for last year, of course, because of the pandemic). I’ve seen them all, and they’ve all been great; this has really developed into one of my favorite concert-going traditions.
This year’s show was especially poignant, marking a return to normalcy for Light of Day after last year’s festival was online-only, and this year’s was postponed from January to this month because of the Omicron spike.
It has always been a Songwriters in the Round-style show. This year’s edition departed from tradition a bit, though. All the artists — James Maddock, Guy Davis, Danielia Cotton, D’Urso and the duos Williams Honor (Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown) and Blue Americana (Alexander and Oria Aspen) — stayed onstage together throughout the night, for one long set, instead of dividing up for two shorter sets. Besides that, though, the format was the same as usual, with the performers frequently playing with each other, whether that meant Davis adding blues harmonica to Cotton’s ferocious “Devil in Disguise,” or Cotton or Richards blending their powerful voices together on Cotton’s “If You Don’t Want Me,” or everyone joining forces on the show-closer, D’Urso’s inspirational ballad, “Hold On.”
When he was performing his “Top of the Stairs,” Maddock came to the point of the song when a guitar solo was called for, looked around the stage and casually said, “somebody …” Alexander jumped in with a solo that fit the song so well you would not have suspected it was improvised on the spot.
For a show that was devoted exclusively to acoustic singer-songwriters, this one had a ton of musical variety.
Williams Honor’s songs, which included previews of tracks from their upcoming album eX, had a contemporary country flavor, and the last number they did, “No Umbrella,” did, in fact, make the national country charts about five years ago.
Davis, who received his second Grammy nomination this year in the traditional blues category, performed material ranging from his earthy, stomping, vocals-and-harmonica singalong “Riley Brown” to a gentle, utterly charming version of The Weavers’ “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.”
There was a jazz flavor to much of Alexander’s guitar playing and Aspen’s vocals. Maddock — who performed “Together” (see video below), “Straight Lines” and “Lavendar Blue,” in addition to “Top of the Stairs” — has developed a dreamy, soulful, utterly unique style of his own.
Many of the artists sang new and, in some cases, unreleased material. Many also talked about the toll that Parkinson’s Disease has taken on their own relatives, reminding us — as all Light of Day shows do — that all this great music was being made for a great cause.
Most of the performers will perform at one or more Light of Day concerts in the coming week; for a complete schedule, visit lightofday.org or download the Light of Day app.
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