Communities converged at the Light of Day concert at the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair, Jan. 5.
The long-running Outpost has a community of its own, as does the Light of Day festival. The musicians on the bill formed a sort of community, too: Many had worked together before.
And tying this Songwriters in the Round-style show together even more was the fact that it was, in part, a tribute to one of the most universally beloved rock singer-songwriters, the late Tom Petty: All eight performers were asked to include one Petty song apiece in the show.
“Somewhere in there, there’s a song for everybody,” said Adam Falcon, referring to Petty’s vast songbook, before performing “I Won’t Back Down.”
“This one speaks to me,” he added.
Singer-songwriter-guitarists Willie Nile, James Maddock, Jeffrey Gaines, Joe D’Urso and Emily Grove performed in the main set (with instrumental support from lead guitarist Rob Dye and pianist Seth Saltzman), while singer-songwriter-guitarists Falcon, Jon Caspi and Isabella Rose were featured in the opening set. The seven musicians in the main set frequently played with each other, particularly on energetic numbers such as Nile’s “One Guitar” and Gaines’ cover of Petty’s “The Waiting,” and all 10 contributed to the show’s encore, Bruce Springsteen’s “Light of Day.”
While Light of Day — which has raised more than $4.5 million for Parkinson’s disease research and related causes over the last 18 years — takes place mainly in Asbury Park (and will do so again this year, though Jan. 15), it has begun, for the last four years, with an Outpost show. This year’s lineup offered a good mix of familiar and new faces, as Nile, Maddock, Gaines and D’Urso had all done the Outpost LOD show at least once, while Grove, Falcon, Caspi and Rose hadn’t.
Maddock, who played on Nile’s recent album Positively Bob: Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan, backed Nile on Nile’s cover of Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” and Rose, after performing in the opening set, returned to the stage to sing D’Urso’s inspirational anthem, “Sway,” with him. Dye deftly added Heartbreaker Mike Campbell’s essential lead guitar parts to “The Waiting” and D’Urso’s cover of Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
Falcon provided an early highlight with his haunting blues song, “Woke Up Crying,” which he wrote for his late mother, who had Parkinson’s disease. Also making a particularly big impression in the first set were Caspi’s rousing, life-affirming “Raise ‘Em High,” and Rose’s atmospheric take on Petty’s “Luna.”
Later, Grove was mesmerizing on her solo, a cappella “Johnny Lee,” and Maddock sang his “Leave Me Down” with so much plain-spoken soul that Gaines said he thought Rod Stewart should record it. (Good idea.) Gaine provided two of the show’s best moments with “The Waiting” and his own “Right My Wrongs,” while Nile — still incredibly prolific, deep into his career — was most impressive on “Looking for Someone,” an uncharacteristically playful, new and, as yet, unreleased song, co-written with the late Andrew Dorff.
Other standout numbers included Maddock’s cover of Petty’s “Fooled Again (I Don’t Like Again)” — one of those gems that hasn’t been covered much since Petty died, only because he has so many other great songs — and D’Urso’s “Hold On,” which ended the evening on a hopeful, heartfelt note (before that final, celebratory “Light of Day” encore).
Most of the performers will be at other Light of Day shows throughout the week; for a complete rundown of all shows, visit lightofday.org.
Jeffrey Gaines: “The Waiting”
Willie Nile: “One Guitar”
James Maddock: “Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)”
Joe D’Urso: “Just Once”
Emily Grove: “Johnny Lee”
Adam Falcon: “Woke Up Crying”
Willie Nile: “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”
Jeffrey Gaines: “Right My Wrongs”