PUBLICATIONS > Articles > 1960s > The Birth Of Crosby Stills And Nash (review about the late 60's) > Steve Stills a man of magic

Steve Stills a man of magic
Barbara Charone
Sounds
July 19, 1975

 

THEY WERE knocking on Stephen Stills’ hotel room door all Saturday afternoon at a slightly seedy Holiday Inn in Lennox Massachusetts, next door to Tanglewood, the Summer home for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

All afternoon, kids of all shapes and sizes who had come from everywhere to see Stills, kept shouting requests for that evening’s show. “Hey Stephen,” said one fellow wearing a Neil Young T-shirt, “do ‘4 & 20’.” Stills grins. “Hey Stephen,” another fellow yelled out, “can we have a football jersey?” Stills frowned. You can only take so much.

Later that evening the kid with the musical request was more than satisfied. This new Stephen Stills band is possibly his best, rivalling the classic Manassas. This time around Stills is backed by a mighty six-piece outfit that includes guitarist Donnie Dacus and keyboard man Jerry Aiello from Stills past group; conga player Joe Lala, CSN&Y veteran and Manassas alumni; bassist George Perry; drum mer Ronald ‘Tubby’ Ziegler; and guitarist Rick Roberts, ex Burrito Brothers and a recent Chris Hillman band.

Not since CSN&Y has Stills been supported by such able – voiced singers, capable of reaching the highest highs on some of the more angelic vocal material. Donnie Dacus and Rick Roberts compliment Stills’ voice perfectly – while adding punch and fire to the guitar accompaniment.

The end result is a fully fledged rock band capable of capturing a myriad of styles from subtle jazzy things to acoustic pieces and back to rock. There’s even a country jig or two to keep toes tapping.

Due to the auspicious surroundings, Stephen opened the show alone instead of inserting the solo spot in the middle of the electric sets. The audience treated him like visiting royalty, instantly recognising tunes like ‘Change Partners’, ‘Know You Got To Run’, ‘Word Game’ and, of course, ‘4 & 20’. Especially satisfying was a sensitive rendition of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me’, which fitted well with the mood of the day.

After a brief interval the band shuffled onstage, running through several CSN&Y hits just to keep the customers satisfied before taking off with some of the excellent material from his latest album ‘Stills’. ‘Helplessly Hoping’ and ‘49 Bye Byes’ were enjoyable nostalgia but the real surprise was a thrown-in version of ‘Four Days Gone’, an exquisite Buffalo Springfield tune done perfectly light and airy. ‘So Begins the Task and ‘Johnny’s Garden’, were equally sensitive, done up real proper.

Rick Roberts shined on his ‘Colorado’ with Stills taking a back seat vocally but not musically while the whole band rocked hard on ‘Turn Back The Pages’, Dacus and Stills trading licks in a possessed style reminiscent of Stephen and Neil’s better days.

‘Love the One You’re With’, got the masses up and dancing but the real stormer of the evening was an electric version of ‘Suite Judy Blue Eyes’ attacked much like the Stones would attack ‘Brown Sugar’, yet the pretty parts were still preserved.

At the end, 9,000 people stood clapping for 15 minutes, acclaiming the magical rock inspiration that belongs to only very special artists. Stephen Stills is one such artist.

— BARBARA CHARONE.

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