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10:25 AM, Dec 16, 2005
GARTH HUDSON receives the Hamilton Music Award for Best Instrumental 2005! Garth presented Daniel Lanois with the Lifetime Acheivement Award. Later in the evening Garth and his wife Maud closed the Awards ceremony with the most breathtaking performance of the night. Garth played a 6-minute solo on grand piano leading into "It Makes No Difference" sung by Maud, who brought the audience to tears. It ended with a standing ovation and Daniel Lanois surprised Garth by presenting him with his own Best Instrumental Award! Both Garth and Maud made themselves available to sign their newly released LIVE at the WOLF cd. A great night!
10:12 AM, Dec 16, 2005
GARTH and MAUD HUDSON at the Hamilton Music Scene Festival 2006.
They brought their new band The Best! to perform at the Hamilton Place Theatre in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Rae Billings opened. Erin Hill, performed a few selections on harp that was beautiful and eclectic playing "She Moved Through the Fair" then Bowie's "Space Oddity." Excellently I might add.
After she walked off, Garth, all dressed in black, with a big black hat pulled down to his eyes, his white hair and beard puffed out all around his face, ambled on stage, with a huge accordion strapped to his chest. He flopped into the office chair in the middle of the keyboard configuration, leaned into the microphone and said, in a deep but indistinct voice, "Hi! It's good to be back in my third home. This is a song I'm gonna dedicate to Mary, called 'Everyttime I See The Sun,' well...tonight it's 'Song for Mary.'"
Then he leaned back, his long legs splayed out, and began to open the accordion up, throughout the 7 or so minutes of this song he played each and every keyboard moving himself around with his legs, reaching over top of the accordion, sometimes playing 2 keyboards at once, sometimes 3, by starting a note on the synth which then was held til it disappeared while he played left hand on organ right hand on grand, or some other configuration. Stride piano, church organ, hip unknown synth sounds, weird but musically exciting, even magical.
After this, the band appeared. And Garth said something about "Levon and the Hawks, at the Friars Tavern in 1957." Then played some early rock'n'roll. Fun. After this a girl pushed Garth's wife Maud out to centre stage in her wheelchair. She suffers from the residual effects of a couple of car accidents. Maud was clothed in multiple layers of scarves, she wore gloves and sunglasses, and read her lyrics from an Apple laptop, while an electric fan blew on her from the floor. She sang with authority in a pleasant and strong voice with a bluesy feel. She's a heck of a singer. A focus. Garth introduced the band members: Erin Hill on harp, Steve Elson on sax, Mark Dzuiba on guitar, Marty Ballou on bass and Ernie Colon on drums. Fine musicians each and every one.
Manuel's lost song "Words and Numbers" (recently discovered in Garth's archives and issued finally on the new box set The Band: a Musical History) was a highlight. Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell" was done as a dramatic reading rather than a song, with Maud delivering the verses as poetry, and then singing the last line, "Blind Willie McTell!" Garth played piano behind the reading. From blues, to gospel, with stops all along the musical pathway, there was nothing they didn't try.
It's clear that Garth and Maud are still very much in love. It's also clear that the musicians on-stage also love their bosses. In fact everybody had a great time. It was chaotic. Spontaneous. Loose. Amazingly musical, and virtuosic. Who could disagree with the comment overheard in the foyer later, "Did you ever hear anything quite like that?" No-sirree-bob! Never did.
The night ended at 2 a. m.!
I waited around for an autograph, which I got. He was wearing a Burrito Deluxe black leather jacket, and looked cool with a baseball cap on his head. Garth is slow, studied, thoughtful, friendly, happy to be there, glad you liked the show, willing to chat even though there's a lineup of fans eager to have the Old Man of the Mountain sign their CD insert, or their copy of the box set, or the photo of Garth kicking a soccer ball from The Band LP. Maud is charming and funny, warm and witty, gracious, a delightful human being.
Garth Hudson is still the keyboard player of choice for dozens of recording artists. Burrito Deluxe, Dixie Hummingbirds, Norah Jones, Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Johnny Society, Clay Dubose, Neko Case, and The Secret Machines. He has a way of sweetening everybody's music in a way that respects the originator and still sounds just like himself. LIVE, in an intiimate 350-seat theatre, with Maud Hudson on vocals, and The Best!--all in all a strange but wonderful night of exotic music. - - David Kidney
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