Thursday, May 18, 2023

Live Review: WFUV High Line Bash 2023 - City Winery, NYC 5/12/23

WFUV High Line Bash 2023
The Hold Steady, Allison Russell, Allison Ponthier, Brandi and the Alexanders
5/12/23 City Winery NY, NY

The annual WFUV High Line Bash fundraising event was held on Friday night May 12th at the gorgeous city winery directly on the Hudson River in Manhattan.  

The event was a chance for friends and supporters of the noncommercial, member-supported public media service to gather and mingle. The station that brings a diverse ray of talent to NYC's ears, and has great taste all around. RtBE has attended their events before and they are always a good time, for a good cause. 

Unfortunately, arriving late, I missed the set of Brandi and the Alexanders set, but walked in with Allison Ponthier in full flight as she delivered a set of light tunes backed by a solo electric guitar; her vocals eased out into the evening crowd as the sun set over the river and New Jersey.   

Perhaps odd for a radio station event, but the music seemed a touch secondary on this evening as donors mingled, ate snacks and drank wine, chatting with each other as Ponthier sang "Autopilot" in the background. Some of the food was truly excellent, especially the Taste of New York Reuben Egg Rolls, which combined two cultures culinary traditions. 

Allison Russell was up next and was more of a focal point as her and her band took the City Winery stage. Telling heartbreaking stories of abuse by her adoptive father she delivered songs of pain, yet survival including "4th Day Prayer" and "You're Not Alone". Moving songs and her powerful voice echoed through the venue, which started to thin out after her set. 

Headliners The Hold Steady were to follow and the Brooklyn band revamped their normal raucous rock and roll show for a more subdued story-telling, lounge-jazz vibe. Having seen the band numerous times this was a unique twist to their sound.

Opening with a restrained take on "Multitude of Casualties" the group set the quiet tone to the small crowd. The band decided to showcase their fantastic new album The Price of Progress on this night and front man Craig Finn discussed and explained a few of the inspirations for the efforts touching on Johnny Fever, The Monkees, Dictators and Amazon wish lists. 

Multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay was an MVP on this night playing piano, keys and accordion, as was guest Stuart Bogie who joined on brass and woodwinds.     

The whole set had a slow, slinking, jazz groove pushed along lightly by the low end of Galen Polivka and Bobby Drake. "Sixers" was an early highlight, and the dramatic "The Ambassador" was a late one. The group finally let the guitarists loose to end the night with the elongated, swaying, "Oaks" that found both Tad Kubler and Steve Selvidge passing nuanced solos back and fourth with grace and class. 

An interesting night of music, friends, food and wine for a good cause. If possible, please support WFUV, and thanks to Theresa and the whole WFUV team for putting on this event, it was one RtBE is happy to support.
Will update this with video of the show if I find some (feel free to post any you find in comments) until then here is Allison Ponthier signing "Autopilot" at WFUV:

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