In between E Street Band and Crazy Horse work, master rock singer-songwriter-guitarist Nils Lofgren fit in his first tour with a full band in over 15 years. Inspired by the writing with the great Lou Reed on his last studio album, Nils knew it was time. Audience and band alike sharing their souls, gifts, spirit, and energy on the tour made for a fresh, new live sound for Nils. The result is in an earthy, rockin’ album that breathes life into a world temporarily void of the excitement, energy, tenderness, and spontaneity of live music during COVID-19.
The 16-track collection, entitled Weathered, and issued on Lofgren’s own Cattle Track Road Records in double-CD configuration, was produced by the musician and his wife Amy and is due out on August 21, 2020.
It was recorded on the road during select intimate tour dates in the U.S. supporting his recent Blue With Loustudio album. “My dear friends who made that album all agreed to come. Andy Newmark, Kevin McCormick, Cindy Mizelle, and my brother Tom Lofgren joining us to form an amazing band,” notes Nils. “In preparation for the tour my wonderful wife Amy hosted us all in our home and garage studio to put the show together. Amy designed our merchandise, cooked beautiful food for us and created a safe, welcoming musical environment for all. We created the show’s foundation to work from and headed out to share this fresh, new band.”
Improvisation has always been a key element in live performances for Nils, a veteran member of some of the greatest rock bands in history, as well as an accomplished and successful solo artist. “All the band members are old friends used to being encouraged to stretch out and improvise with me,” he explains. That freedom shows throughout Weathered. “Our crew did a fabulous job getting everything right for us to do our best every night.” He continues, “Regularly hearing inspired, improvisational surprises from your fellow bandmates elevated our interaction and made for one of a kind, unique shows every night. We all thrive in a live setting and at every show, the audience kicked the music up to a special level we only reach with their contagious, inspired energy.” That comes across brilliantly on this celebratory live album.
The album contains live renditions of two of the Lou Reed/Nils Lofgren penned songs, “Don’t Let Your Guard Down” and “Give,” along with Nils’ rocking protest song “Rock or Not” and the tenderly wistful “Too Blue to Play,” all from the Blue With Loualbum. Cindy Mizelle’s heartfelt vocals complement throughout the double album, but on “Big Tears Fall” they take the lead and on the duet “Tender Love” they are especially powerful.
In addition to her soulful harmonies, you’ll also hear Cindy’s improvisational “scatting” throughout, becoming another instrument inside this stellar band. The dark, minor blues “Too Many Miles” is a wonderful example of this.
Nils pushes his electric soloing to new heights throughout. In “Give,” a co-write and timely lyric with the great Lou Reed, you’ll hear him at his improvisational best, launching into a “backwards” guitar segment, mid solo.
There’s a fabulous 14-minute-plus version of the haunting “Girl in Motion,” set up by a wonderful studio story of Ringo Starr watching the original recording go down and offering amazing advice.
It’s very rare for Nils to get the entire band that made a studio record out on the road with him. It pays off dramatically here. Andy Newmark on drums (John Lennon, Sly Stone, David Bowie, Eric Clapton…) Kevin McCormick on bass, vocals (Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne, Melissa Ethridge, Keb’ Mo’…) Cindy Mizelle on vocals (Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen…) and Tom Lofgren on guitars, keyboards, vocals, who’s been playing with Nils since his early band Grin, combine to create a fresh, inspired take on these classic Nils songs.
Weatheredincludes “Like Rain” from Grin and seven other standards from his solo work. Nils’ brothers Mike and Mark Lofgren join the band on the Hank Williams classic “Mind Your Own Business.”The art of improvisation resurfaces during the “Jam / Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” which builds to a crescendo before his classic “I Came To Dance.”
“We kept the shows reckless and fun with a lot of jamming and interaction. Tour bussing from town to town all over America, we all brought our collective experience and love for performing to every show,” Nils reflects. “Turning up to ‘eleven’ and wailing inside this amazing band was a joy and revelation to me, having been away from playing with my own electric band for so long. Proud to share this rough and ready collection that breathes new life and inspiration into the best of my songs.
“After 51 years on the road, I’m so grateful to have been inspired by this band and our audiences as never before!”