One Night Only: The Velvet Underground Pay Tribute to Nico and Allen Ginsberg


Tonight, fans of the Velvet Underground will get to see their idols pay tribute to two of their most revered friends and collaborators–just not on the same stage. At Housing Works, Lou Reed will be celebrating the vinyl and digital re-issue of Allen Ginsberg’s FIRST BLUES. Across the East River, John Cale will be kicking off his three-night run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with a sold-out tribute to Nico, which will also feature Sharon Van Etten, the Magnetic Fields, and Kim Gordon, among others. Torn on which show you’ll hit later? Here’s a brief preview of each, along with a few educated guesses as to which songs you’ll get to hear Reed and Cale wax poetic on this evening.

LOU REED: FIRST BLUES: Rags, Ballads, Harmonium Songs, Chanteys & Come-All-Ye’s

Also featuring: Anne Waldman, Ambrose Bye, CA Conrad, Steven Taylor, Hettie Jones, Arthur’s Landing

Twenty years after its initial debut on a double LP, Allen Ginsberg’s FIRST BLUES is finally getting a proper release with a digital and vinyl re-issue. Produced by John Hammond Sr. and featuring Bob Dylan, Arthur Russell, David Mansfield, Happy Traum, David Amram, Steven Taylor and Peter Orlovksy, FIRST BLUES is the seminal musical effort from the beat poet and one that took approximately a decade to make. Lou Reed wasn’t featured on the album, but Reed–who, along with Patti Smith, eulogized Ginsberg at a memorial service at St. Mark’s Church shortly after his death in 1997–will be one of the many “friends, collaborators, relatives and co-conspirators” performing selections from the album. One can only hope he takes on “Vomit Express,” a Ginsberg-Dylan collaboration and FIRST BLUES‘ world-weary yet jovial second track. The celebration for FIRST BLUES is free and open to the public, so show early in order to get a good spot up front (and the record on vinyl).

JOHN CALE: Life Along the Borderline: A Tribute to Nico (BAM)

Also featuring: Greg Dulli (The Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers, The Gutter Twins), 
Nick Franglen (Lemon Jelly, Blacksand)
, Kim Gordon, 
Joan as Police Woman
, The Magnetic Fields
, Mercury Rev
, Alison Mosshart (The Kills)
, Meshell Ndegeocello, 
, Sharon Van Etten, 

The bad news: Cale’s Nico tribute has long since sold out. The good news: If you scored a ticket, you get to see one hell of a star-studded lineup paying homage to the husky-voiced Warhol darling and comrade-in-art to the Velvet Underground. In addition to his solo work (which includes October’s Shifty Adventures in Nookiewood, his first album since 2005), Cale has been helming projects that revel in Nico’s work for the past 20 years, namely the score for a ballet about her and the first performance of Life Along the Borderline in London in 2008. Featuring the Fiery Furnaces, Peter Murphy, Mark Lanegan, Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse), Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) and more, the 2008 lineup was a superlative group of musicians. 2013’s roster falls in line with this astronomical standard set by Cale as the best of Brooklyn and Manhattan gather at BAM to contribute their talents to Nico’s legacy.

For those interested in Cale’s work post-Velvet Underground, he’ll be accompanied by the Wordless Music Orchestra at BAM on January 18 and 19 for a performance of 1973’s Paris 1919 in its entirety, along with songs from Shifty Adventures in Nookiewood.

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