Tonight! Gil, Elvis, and, If You Must, the Decemberists


The poetry of Gil Scott-Heron spoke for the wretched of the earth — his concocted third-world revolution was fearsome enough to stand in for the real thing. Since denying the addictive properties of cocaine in 2001, the spoken-word artist has been in and out of prison on drug-related charges, resulting in a tour schedule riddled with cancellations. But this evening’s performance at S.O.B.’s is still on.

As a 15-year old fronting the Spencer Davis Group, Steve Winwood had the uncanny howl of a grizzled Motown singer. But after years of dropping acid in the woodland rehearsal cabin of psychedelia outfit Traffic, the wünderkind was never again able to muster the same ferocious delivery. The greatest achievement of his adult career was the taming of Eric Clapton — in 1969, the pair collaborated as Blind Faith, a short-lived folk project that schooled both young virtuosos on the merits of restraint. The two begin their first tour together in 40 years at the Izod Center in New Jersey.

Marshall Allen, a founding member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, inherited bandleader duties upon his mentor’s death in 1993. Since then, the saxophonist has played steward to the spirit of jazz’s most perplexing luminary. He performs tonight as part of the the Vision Festival, where he will be honored with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hyper-literate fedora model Declan Patrick MacManus, a/k/a Elvis Costello, plays the Beacon.

The Decemberists sneak into Radio City tonight and pray that their flocks of indie-kids are too young to recognize any of the other names listed here.