Manhattan Beat: Love Rocks 2019 & The New Colossus Festival

Love Rocks NYC/Beacon Theatre/March 7, 2019

Robert Plant, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Sheryl Crow, Hozier, Grace Potter, Billy Gibbons, and Keb’ Mo’ were among the headliners who performed at the third annual Love Rocks NYC benefit concert for God’s Love We Deliver at the Beacon Theatre. Clothing designer John Varvatos and real estate broker Greg Williamson, founders of the charity fundraiser, helped raise over $100,000 over four hours of live music and entertainment.

Marcus King

Doyle Bramhall II, Danny Clinch, Mark Flanigin, Buddy Guy, Marcus King, Larkin Poe, Taj Mahal, Lukas Nelson, Ivan Neville & Cyril Neville, Alice Smith, Mavis Staples, Jimmie Vaughan, Bernie Williams were among the performers. Kevin Bacon, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Paul Shaffer, and Martin Short hosted the event; Whoopi Goldberg cancelled due to illness.

Bill Murray

Bill Murray referred to the house band as “the greatest band in the history of rock and roll.” Bassist Will Lee of The Late Show with David Letterman assembled and directed the house band, which included guitarists Eric Krasno and Larry Campbell, keyboardists Paul Shafer and Jeff Young, and drummers Steve Gadd and Shawn Pelton. Lee also assembled the God’s Love Horns, featuring Evan Barker, Ron Blake, Joe Fiedler, Aaron Heick, Jim Hynes, and Andy Snitzer, and the We Deliver Singers, consisting of Elaine Caswell, Alecia Chakour, Dennis Collins, Chrissi Poland, Nikki Richards, and Mark Rivers.

Sheryl Crow

The concert started about 8:15 p.m. with former The Late Show with David Letterman announcer Alan Kalter serving as “the Voice of God,” introducing the performers and making jokes invisibly from off stage. The highlights of the evening included rare pairings: Buddy Guy with Bernie Williams, Hozier with Mavis Staples, Keb’ Mo’ with Taj Mahal, Sheryl Crow with Lukas Nelson, Billy Gibbons with Bernie Williams, and Robert Plant with Sheryl Crow. Even the pairing of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson was notable in that it was the first time in three years, since Ann’s husband, Dean Wetter, was arrested for assaulting Nancy’s then 16-year-old twin sons in 2016. The evening concluded with Plant, Mahal, Potter, and Nelson covering Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and then all of the artists returning to the stage for Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright.”

Ann & Nancy Wilson

Since its inception, the Love Rocks NYC concert series has raised nearly $6 million dollars for God’s Love We Deliver. The non-profit agency is largely powered by volunteers and provides free meals and nutritional counseling for thousands of homebound New Yorkers and their families daily.

The New Colossus Festival/Lower Manhattan/March 7-10, 2019

More than 100 buzzworthy artists from around the world performed showcases for fans and industry personnel as part of the inaugural New Colossus Festival. Over the course of four days and three nights, six independent music venues in New York City’s Lower East Side and East Village hosted conferences, concerts, and social events. The Natvral (Kip of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart), Nicole Yun (Eternal Summers), Thick, Pom Pom Squad, Tallies, Wooing, Das Body, and more performed at Arlene’s Grocery, Berlin, Bowery Electric, Coney Island Baby, the Delancey, and Pianos.

Body Type

New Colossus Festival happened the weekend before SXSW, and so it was a stop-over for many Canadian and European artists who were on their way to Austin. Thirty-seven bands came from the United States, 35 came from Canada, 14 came from the United Kingdom, seven bands from Spain, four bands from Norway, with a handful from coming in from several other countries.


Mike Bell (Lorimer Beacon), Lio Kanine (Kanine Records) & Steven Matrick (Kepler Events/Pianos) founded the festival to provide conferences in addition to showcases. The six conferences were “The Importance of an Independent Record Label in Today’s Marketplace,” “Let’s Talk About Sync,” “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Finding Your Own Formula in a Changing Landscape,” “Navigating the Labyrinth: U.S. Visas for Artists,” “Music Activism: Making It Useful and Strategic,” and “Erasing the Stigma: Mental Health and the Musicians’ Community.”