LOWER MANHATTAN, NY—CSN&Y member Graham Nash dished out the hits and some deep album cuts at a two-set performance at City Winery, taking on a catalogue that goes back to the mid-‘60s. From his first group, The Hollies, to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and its various configurations, onto the solo albums, he’s covered an incredible amount of rock ‘n’ roll turf.
Touring in support of his new autobiography, Wild Tales, Nash’s three-night stand at the Winery, coupled with Barnes & Noble and Strand readings, left no stone unturned. In the book, he writes of early encounters with the Beatles, Stones and Hendrix. At Barnes & Noble, he reminisced about his first musical encounter with Stephen Stills and David Crosby at Joni Mitchell’s place. After two run-throughs by Crosby and Stills on “You Don’t Have To Cry,” Nash added his soaring harmonies to the third and the rest is history. Their sound was founded within the first 40 seconds of them singing together, per Nash.
An activist as well from his anti-Vietnam war stances to the No Nukes movement of the ‘70s to the now, Nash played a recent song, “Almost Gone,” in support of WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, prefacing it by stating that we all have the “right to disagree.”
Opening with The Hollies’ “Bus Stop,” Nash and his two-piece backup band of Shane Fontayne and James Raymond quickly got down to the hits. Weaving songs from his first solo album, Songs For Beginners, to the CSN cannon and some newer unreleased gems, Nash turned the Winery into a Greenwich Village hootenanny with his between song banter and a setlist that demanded sing-alongs.
“Wind On The Water” came out of a nine-week sailing trip with Crosby. “I thought I was gonna take a quick boat trip and smoke a fattie with Crosby. Instead, I’m gone for nine weeks, and that’s where this song comes from.” On it, a prerecorded “Critical Mass” intro gave way to Nash’s rolling piano and ended with a crying wail.
“Back Home” was a new song written in tribute to The Band’s Levon Helm. Nash added that he likes playing new stuff on stage: “It stops us from being like the Eagles!” then added “Henley will kill me for saying that!”
He wrote “Wounded Bird” for Stills after his breakup with Judy Collins. “I Used To Be A King” was about his breakup with Joni Mitchell. “Cathedral” was an account of a real acid trip. “Chicago” was written to bandmates Young and Stills, requesting their presence at the Chicago Eight trial in 1968 “just to sing.” Nash’s earthy vibe and the band’s infectious grooves kept the night incredibly intimate as Nash reveled in the spotlight on the small stage.
The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Nash’s own “Teach Your Children” were the closers that he dedicated to all the teachers out there as well as Jerry Garcia, who played pedal steel guitar on the original album cut on Deja Vue, ending another stoney night of Wild Tales.