Bill Wither’s classic Live at Carnegie Hall, released in 1973, stands as one of the best live albums of all time by many music critics.
The New Stew’s recreation of the album wasn’t a one-off allstar jam– this was a really well put together supergroup that honed on the man nuances of the performance and they owned it. The group sounds even better than they look on paper, which is quite a feat; Corey Glover (Living Colour, Galactic) on vocals, Roosevelt Collier (The Lee Boys) on Lap Steel/ Pedal Steel, Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood) on percussion, Dave Yoke (Susan Tedeschi Band, Dr. John, Scrapomatic) on guitar, Jared Stone (Stone’s Stew) on drums, and Matt Slocum (Oteil and the Peacemakers, Col. Bruce Hampton & Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Lee Boys) on piano.
Corey Glover absolutely NAILED his vocal parts, paying his respects to one of the greatest. And in many instances he went above and beyond what was needed to do the music justice.
Corey was so dialed in, he nixed the mic on the classic, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” just to emphasize the power of his voice. Getting a venue to quiet down to listen intently to every word spoken was something I don’t often see at shows and it was beautiful.
The DC show was the highlight of the run for me. The venue was incredible to include a finely tuned piano that Matt had a blast using. It added a dynamic the the show that because of varying constraints we could not add. Everything about that night popped and we had a blast! Def would like to go back! – Jared Stone, Drummer, The New Stew
The band is made up of some real players. Each person on that stage has played and performed all over the world with a variety of acts. Yonrico Scott is a beast behind the kit and, as I came to find out at the New Stew show, an incredible percussionist. David Yoke and Matt Slocum play so well together I’m not sure exactly where to start. They’re certainly no strangers to each other, having played together for years in the Susan Tedeschi Band. Yoke’s warm SG tone can be compared to the likes of Derek Trucks. The guitar sings, it is not just played, it speaks to the listener in a way that connects very deeply with the human soul and consciousness.
This show marked the first time on the tour where Matt Slocum had a full grand piano on the stage. He really dug deep at the Hamilton offering tasty piano chops on every keyboard possible: the clav, organ, and piano. I’d not seen Jared Stone play before, but he was great on the kit. He’s been around Jazz clubs his entire life, playing, running clubs, promoting bands, and a lot more. You can just tell it comes naturally. He’s got the feel down for this album and the drum role within it. At times driving home a jam, yet at many times sitting heavy in the pocket. When you’re playing Bill Withers you can’t just “play” it you have to “feel it.”
A few songs into the show I knew one highlight of this piece would have to be on Kevin Scott. Someone needs to get this man a leash to walk his bass. Scott told us in an interview that Duane Trucks put him on the “Live at Carnegie Hall” album awhile back. Well not only does Scott have the licks down he added in some very tastefully crafted fills. Before the show he told us, “Since I had heard and studied the album so much before I got called for the gig, I put time into finding ways to get my personality in the grooves but always tying keep Melvin’s amazing feel strong throughout the set.” The pocket rocked so hard during the show at the New Stew. Stone, Scott, and Scott is a formidable force in the backbone section.
Roosevelt Collier makes you FEEL the music in a way similar, yet not identical to, how David Yoke’s SG speaks to the audience. The sacred steel guitar, I’d argue, is one of the most expressive instruments out there (I’ve also argued the same about a Hammond B-3 Organ). Roosevelt takes the steel guitar to another level. Sometimes, he keeps it clean to accompany the vocal melodies; other times he’s locking in with the instrumental groove progressions. And every once in a awhile you see Roosie’s face light up and it is go time. A lot of good players know inordinate amounts of theory, but great players know how to diessminenate all the nuances of theory into feel. Something that speaks not just to the ear, but the soul.
Man there’s no writing out parts. This is Bill Wither. You just have to feel it… It’s gonna be very unique to have a steel guitar on this album …. My approach is to enforce the live feeling of this record. – Roosevelt Collier, Pedal Steel, The New Stew
The entire set was performed well from start to finish. In a way it was nice to get the big elephant in the room out of the way so to say, “Use Me,” perhaps Withers’ most popular number that has been played and covered by bands for quite some time. Sloucum’s clav met Henry’s voice in typical live Bill Wither’s fashion and the night started off very strong. As noted, Henry’s vocals stood out on “Ain’t No Sunshine.” It was no surprise we felt a strong pocket during “World Keeps Going Around” as Bassist Kevin Scott told us before the show, “That groove Melvin does on ‘World Keeps Going Around’ gets me every time.” Yoke’s warm SG tone took over “Let Me In Your Life,” providing one of many highlights from the night. Yoke’s playing is focused and driven with intent, yet packed with a feel-based playing. One of the biggest singalong of the night came as no surprise,”Lean on Me,” which originally appeared on the 1972 album titled Still Bill. “Lonely Town, Lonely Street,” “Hope She’ll Be Happier,” “Let Us Love,” and “Harlem/Cold Baloney” closed out what was in all, a stellar night of music.
It was a totally unique experience to see this classic album reimagined by current greats, made even more special by the fact that it was in such an intimate space. It was maybe my favorite show I’ve seen at The Hamilton so far, and I can’t wait to see what album they choose to explore next time around! – Keith Bergquist, The Hamilton
While this show was undoubtedly about seeing the re-creation of Bill Wither’s famed Live at Carnegie Hall album, what we witnessed at the Hamilton was much more. The top notch musicians that comprise The New Stew took a famous album and not only did the music justice, they made the music speak to the audience in the way that album spoke to fans in 1973.
Look out for some possible summer one off dates added and news for something later this year. In no way are we done! – Jared Stone, Drummer, The New Stew