New York 20 ottobre 2010
The Speaking Clock Revue: Concerts Inspired by the Film
T Bone Burnett collaborates with an all-star line-up to play in Boston and New York.
T Bone Burnett will premiere The Speaking Clock Revue
– a multi-artist concert extravaganza – on October 16 at the Wang
Center in Boston and October 20 at the Beacon Theater in New York City.
Both evenings of the Revue will feature performances by Elton John and Leon Russell, John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello, Gregg Allman, Ralph Stanley, Jeff Bridges, Punch Brothers, Karen Elson and the newcomers, The Secret Sisters. Neko Case and Jim James from My Morning Jacket will join the lineup in Boston and New York respectively.
This edition of The Speaking Clock Revue is presented with Participant Media in conjunction with the release of the documentary film Waiting For "Superman."
All net proceeds from these shows will be donated to The Participant
Foundation to support music and arts education programming in public
Burnett's decision to join with Participant Media to donate all net
proceeds from the concerts came after he saw an early screening of
Waiting for "Superman". As he explains, "This film deals most
powerfully with the troubling state of public education in the United
States, and offers solutions and the opportunity to be part of those
solutions. I am so very grateful to the musicians who are giving so
generously of their time and talents for these shows, and for joining
with the Participant Foundations to work for a better world."
T Bone Burnett is a 10-time Grammy Award winner whose 40 years of
experience in music and entertainment have earned him an unparalleled
reputation as a first-rate innovative artist, songwriter, producer,
performer, concert producer, record company owner and artists' advocate.
da www.examiner.com del 21.10.2010
T Bone Burnett brings 'The Speaking Clock Revue' to the Beacon
di Jim Bessman
The pairing of Elton John and Leon Russell was the marquee attraction, what with their new album The Union garnering much notice. And sure enough, the piano-playing pair's six-song closing set at last night's The Speaking Clock Revue show at the Beacon Theater was grand.
But the high point really came halfway through the first set, when
emceeElvis Costello outlined event producer T Bone Burnett's 30-year
background in films, then brought out Jeff Bridges, whom he worked with
on the music side on the unforgettable films The Big Lebowski and last year's Crazy Heart.
Bridges' Kris Kristofferson-like performance of the latter's key song
"Fallin' & Flyin'" was right out of the movie; when Costello and
Burnett traipsed out together playing guitars after the first verse the
moment was magical and consecrated by Bridges' recognition of the duo as
the Coward Brothers--the name they've used for their many music
Burnett, of course, had a hand in producing nearly every
artist on the bill starting with Costello, who opened the evening with
"Brilliant Mistake," from his Burnett-produced 1986 album King Of America.
Indeed, Brooklyn's progressive acoustic group the Punch Brothers, who
followed, and English singer-songwriter Karen Elson were about the only
artists on the bill who haven't worked with him--at least for now.
For the most part, every artist did two songs, mostly backed by "The Speaking Clock Revue
Ensemble" led by guitarist Marc Ribot and featuring guitars, pedal
steel, mandolin, upright bass, keyboards, banjo and two drummers
(including the great Jim Keltner). Not everything worked: Roots-pop duo
the Secret Sisters' version of Johnny Cash's "Big River" was drowned out
by a big wall-of-sound arrangement additionally buttressed by the Punch
The ensemble wisely let well enough alone during My Morning Jacket's
Jim James' solo acoustic songs.John Mellencamp,
however, ably played it both ways. Accompanied by his splendid
guitarist Andy York, he rocked solid with the ensemble on "Troubled
Land" (Elson adding backup vocal support) and then did a beautiful solo
acoustic turn on "Save Some Time To Dream," which he prefaced with a
pointed dedication to America's children "and the education they're not
Education was Burnett's motivation for staging The Speaking Clock Revue,
which also played Boston on Oct. 16. Presented with Participant Media
in conjunction with the release of the Davis Guggenheim-directed
documentary film Waiting For "Superman"--which explores
innovative approaches by education reformers--the concerts are raising
money for The Participant Foundation to support music and arts education
programming in public schools.
Burnett outlined the cause while the set was changed for
the John/Russell finale. The two then strode to their opposing pianos
and commenced their spectacular The Union mini-set, the
ensemble broadened by a four-piece horn section and four female backup
singers. The standout was "Gone To Shiloh," a Civil War-themed song that
featured Beacon Theater favorite Gregg Allman, who closed the first
set, on guest vocals.
Extra credit should go to ringmaster Costello, who's
practically made a side career out of hosting such events, not to
mention his Spectacle: Elvis Costello With…. TV series. Besides his own stellar performances (some from his forthcoming Burnett-produced album National Ransom), he kept the proceedings wittily rolling along, then turned serious in introducing 83 year-old Ralph Stanley.
Calling himself "a visitor in your country" who
frequently courts criticism for speaking his mind on American issues,
Englishman Costello proudly made note of his two New York City-born sons
and guaranteed that they would be "raised right" by learning to always
love and respect bluegrass legend Stanley.
Accompanied by his longtime guitarist James Shelton,
Stanley sang some of his classics, capped by "Man Of Constant Sorrow,"
the key song from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which he starred. And who produced that movie's celebrated soundtrack? T Bone Burnett, of course.
Dal Wall Street Journal
Elton John, Gregg Allman, Jeff Bridges,
Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp and Leon Russell at the Beacon Theatre
in New York City on October 20.
While some 1,200 bands were
careening around New York City in hope of career advancement during the
annual CMJ Music Marathon, a collection of veteran rock and bluegrass
stars, promising newcomers and some of today’s best musicians were on
stage at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway. On Tuesday evening, Elton John
and Leon Russell introduced their new album, “The Union,” and last
night, T Bone Burnett led John, Russell and a squadron of artists in
what he calls The Speaking Clock Revue.
Last night’s event was a
fundraiser for Participant Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting
arts and music education in public schools. But it was also a tribute to
record producer Burnett and his house musicians, including drummers Jay
Bellerose and Jim Keltner, guitarist Marc Ribot and bassist Dennis
Crouch, who learned 60 songs to work both gigs. Many singers who fronted
the band performed songs they recorded with Burnett and his mates.
Costello, who also served as the revue’s master of ceremonies, offered
“Brilliant Mistake,” a song he released in ’86, and “A Slow Drag with
Josephine” from his forthcoming album “National Ransom.” Both were
produced by Burnett, as was “Low Down Country Blues,” a disk from Gregg
Allman to be released early next year. Recovering from liver-transplant
surgery, Allman was much thinner than in recent years, but his
raspy-blues voice was true. The Beacon Theater is the Allman Brothers
Band’s home away from home – Allman let slip they’ll return next March
for another long stint – and the crowd welcomed his new material. But
when he played his chestnut “Midnight Rider,” they roared in
With the Ribot-led band at their backs and Costello
waving the performers to center stage, the revue never seemed harried
or too much of a good thing. Tanned and in bright spirits, John
Mellencamp visited his Burnett-produced “No Better Than This” and Jeff
Bridges, borrowing a Gretsch electric guitar from Jackson Smith,
performed two songs from the soundtrack from “Crazy Heart,” produced by,
you guessed it, T Bone Burnett.
Introduced by Costello as
“America’s greatest country singer,” 83-year-old Ralph Stanley delivered
bluegrass and gospel with his miraculous quivering voice, ending his
brief set with “Man of Constant Sorrow” which was featured on the
Burnett-produced soundtrack to the Coen Brothers’ film “O Brother, Where
Art Thou?” Though Ribot excelled – he opened the revue’s second half
with a knotty solo rendition of “Don’t Blame Me,” a song Rudy Vallee
popularized in the ‘30s – perhaps the night’s best performance on guitar
was turned in by James Shelton, Stanley’s long-time sideman who, in a
quiet, unassuming way, flatpicks so deftly that it seems as if there’s
another invisible guitarist nearby.
Not-so newcomers like the
dazzling, Chris Thile-led bluegrass quintet the Punch Brothers and Jim
James of My Morning Jacket – neither of whom has had an album produced
by Burnett – worked without the house band, and James’s solo version of
MMJ’s “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” was particularly affecting. With
striking poise, Karen Elson showcased two songs from her debut disk “The
Ghost Who Walks.” She and the Secret Sisters, who seemed giddy with
delight, provided background vocals for Costello and others, giving the
revue a sense of shared adventure. The Punch Brothers backed the Secret
Sisters, whose Burnett-produced debut was released last week.
evening’s climax was the return of Elton John and Leon Russell. Not
only a return in the sense that Russell has been away from the spotlight
for decades – his career has already been rejuvenated by the
John-Russell album “The Union,” produced by Burnett – but it was a
return to the stage the two singer-pianists occupied the night before,
fronting the same band, featuring Burnett’s players augmented by a
four-piece brass section and a four member soul-gospel choir. With
Bellerose working the toms with mallets, Russell and John pounded out
six songs from their new album – on “Gone to Shiloh,” Gregg Allman
filled in for Neil Young, who sings on the disk – and the entire
ensemble returned to sing a seventh track from the disk, “There’s No
On the previous night, Russell opened the show with a
review of his bygone hits including “Song for You” and “Delta Lady”
before being joined onstage by John, who blew him a kiss and beamed as
he watched the white-haired Russell at the opposite grand piano. (For
more on how Elton John helped Leon Russell return to the spotlight,
click here.) The duo played “The Union” in order from start to finish,
thus concluding with Russell’s “In the Hands of Angels” in which he
thanks John and Burnett for reviving his career.
But Elton John
had more to say. When he returned to the stage for his solo set, he
revisited songs to commemorate his 40 years of performing in the States,
playing from his 1970 albums “Your Song,” a lengthy “Take Me to the
Pilot,” “Burn Down the Mission” and a scorching “Ballad of a Well-Known
Gun” featuring a biting Ribot solo. John is clearly thrilled by the
reaction to Russell’s return: “Thank you for making this a party like I
hoped it would be,” he said of the Beacon concert. But his set, backed
by an aggressive, inventive collection of superb musicians, demonstrated
that he too is in a period of revival. Burnett’s kind of organic music
suits him just fine. When he sang a wall-rattling version of the
self-deprecating “The Bitch is Back,” Elton John was making a statement
that seemed truer than it has in decades.
da www.nytimes.com del 22.10.2010
Kindred Spirits, Young and Mature
di John Pareles
T Bone Burnett
didn’t perform much in the Speaking Clock Revue, the rootsy benefit
concert at the Beacon Theater on Wednesday night. It featured musicians
he has produced as well as kindred spirits: the duo of Elton John and Leon Russell, Gregg Allman, John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello, Jeff Bridges, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Karen Elson and the bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley.
While Mr. Burnett
was largely offstage, his musical and intellectual signature was all
over the concert. It was a benefit for the Participant Foundation, which
supports music and arts education and is associated with “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” a documentary about schools.
Mr. Burnett gets songwriters to think about mortality, spirituality,
history, heritage and ends of eras, and he places their voices amid
vintage sounds that are tweaked to be vivid rather than strictly
authentic. As a film music supervisor, most notably for “O Brother,
Where Art Thou?,” he’s an Americana auteur, finding dark, strange,
thoughtful and rocking songs from across decades and genres. Yet this
was no oldies show. Mr. Costello and Mr. Allman sang material from their
coming albums, and Mr. Mellencamp and the John-Russell duo drew on
albums just released this year, all produced by Mr. Burnett.
To start the show Mr. Burnett appeared in his preacher’s coat and reeled
off dozens of digital-era buzzwords, only to dismiss them: “Never mind
about all that, here’s some music.” Then Mr. Costello took over as the
show’s M.C., amiably chatting through equipment changes. The instruments
were hand played, and the voices of the headliners were proudly
weathered. They were backed by a house band, led by the guitarist Marc
Ribot, that many of them had seen in the studio with Mr. Burnett.
The songs were serious, which didn’t mean they were dull. It was a
concert of murder ballads and pleas for redemption, tall tales and tales
of sorrow. Youthful verve — the breakneck bluegrass picking and warped
traditionalism of the Punch Brothers, delicately harmonized and
rocked-up versions of Bill Monroe and Johnny Cash songs by the Secret Sisters — was juxtaposed with the burdens and lessons of age.
Mr. John and Mr. Russell’s new songs looked to history and literature as
their miniset worked up from cinematic anthem (“Gone to Shiloh”) to
rumbling, four-fisted honky-tonk gospel (“Hearts Have Turned to Stone”),
matching Mr. Russell’s feisty cackle to Mr. John’s earnestness. “The
West End,” Mr. Mellencamp’s song about urban decline, became a stomping
indictment. Songs from Mr. Costello’s next album, “The National Ransom” had a jaunty vintage swing and torrents of unfamiliar words to digest.
Mr. Allman, who had a liver transplant in June, brought a frayed,
sometimes otherworldly tone to his bluesy “Floating Bridge,” about
facing death. Mr. Stanley, 83, made “Man of Constant Sorrow,” a song he
has been singing for six decades, both weary and steadfast. Mr. James
was aspiring to that otherworldliness, in two quietly reverent solo
songs. Ms. Elson sang gently, to Appalachian-style tunes, about a
homicidal lover and visions of apocalypse.
Mr. Burnett made his appearance to sing backup (along with Mr. Costello)
for Mr. Bridges, whose performance as a country singer in “Crazy Heart”
brought Academy Awards to them both. Mr. Bridges easily had enough grit
in his voice for songs from the movie. And Mr. Burnett returned for the
group finale, a waltz like a late-night bar singalong that, true to Mr.
Burnett, had time and mortality in mind. “There’s no tomorrow,” the
assembly sang. “There’s only today.”
da Rolling Stone
Live Report: T-Bone Burnett Leads All-Star Speaking Clock Revue
di David Fricke
1975, T-Bone Burnett hit the road as a cast member, way down on the
bill, singing and playing guitar in Bob Dylan's mobile song circle, the
Rolling Thunder Revue. On October 20, at New York's Beacon Theater,
Burnett — now a very busy and successful record producer — was the boss
and headliner of his own living jukebox, the Speaking Clock Revue, a
three-hour spin of singers mostly performing songs produced for them by
Burnett. The lanky Texan was barely on stage himself: he made a quick
appearance with his emcee, Elvis Costello, both in their Coward Brothers
disguise, to harmonize behind Jeff Bridges in "Fallin' and Flyin'" from
the Crazy Heart soundtrack; and gave a few words about the recent
documentary Waiting for Superman and the perilous state of education in
America. (The show was a benefit for the Participant Foundation, which
promotes music and arts classes in public schools.)
social urgency, emotional complexity and folk-blues authenticity Burnett
pursues in the studio was evident all night on stage, even when Karen
Elson sang a couple of numbers from The Ghost Who Walks, which was
produced by her husband Jack White, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket
jolted the first set with his stark mix of clear high pining and brusque
acoustic guitar. The bluegrass patriarch, Dr. Ralph Stanley, was
singing "Man of Constant Sorrow" before Burnett was born — for 64 years,
Stanley noted proudly — and when he sang it again tonight, in a grainy
fluttering voice that showed his age but also his resilience, he
illuminated the long unbroken road between his first records and
Costello started the night with some affectionate
irony, playing "Brilliant Mistake" from his 1986 Burnett-produced
album, King of America. The opening line: "He thought he was the King of
America." But as Costello drew from his latest album with Burnett,
National Ransom (including the '78 Attractions-meets-barn dance charge
of the title track), John Mellencamp veered from the heavy turbulence of
"Troubled Land" to the solo plea "Save Some Time to Dream" and
Burnett's latest protegés, the Secret Sisters, covered Johnny Cash and
Bill Monroe with sharp, arcing harmonies and youthful brawny delight, it
was hard not to believe that Burnett is running things right, on his
Burnett made sure singers moved quickly through the
two sets, using a house band composed of his usual session cats and led
by guitarist Marc Ribot. At one point, the Punch Brothers, the fine,
brash bluegrass outfit featuring singer-mandolinist Chris Thile of
Nickel Creek, kept the music going, ripping through Jimmie Rodgers'
"Brakeman's Blues" as roadies set up the grand pianos for Elton John and
Leon Russell's set of songs from their Burnett-produced record, The
Union. Gregg Allman, who debuted material from his forthcoming solo
album, seemed tentative between songs, even a little naked without his
usual band. He thanked the anonymous donor of his new liver — he had a
successful transplant in June — in a soft voice. But Allman found his
strength in a cover of Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied" and made an
affecting cameo during John and Russell's "Gone to Shiloh," taking the
verse Neil Young does on The Union.
John and Russell only
reprised half of their record, which they did in its entirety the
previous evening. But it was time enough for the funky regret of
Russell's "If It Wasn't for Bad," the Seventies-Stones jollies of
"Monkey Suit" and the double-piano gospel-choir stampede "Hey Ahab." The
finale was basically a group bow, with Burnett, to The Union march
"There's No Tomorrow." When Stanley came out, he stood near the wings,
away from the younger folks on the other side of the stage, as if he
wasn't sure he fit in their company. But then as everyone walked off,
Burnett came over and draped an arm over the smaller 83-year-old man —
the picture of an odd couple that made a perfect match.