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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Nothing can ever possibly compare to seeing a brilliant artist here in Boston, on one of those gorgeous spring and summer days when the city is at it’s finest. This wasn’t one of those times, however, as we had a foot of sleet and slush throughout the hours leading up to Marc Cohn’s performance at the Somerville Theater, but those of us who braved the weather were in for an absolutely UNREAL experience, with one of the most uniquely talented and most genuine artists you will ever get to see. I can tell you first-hand that having survived a few spin-outs on the Mass Turnpike, was so well worth it, for the opportunity to hang out with the guys after sound-check, and have a bite to eat. I stopped and brought some amazing clam chowder from my favorite Somerville haunt, which I think is what we all really needed given the weather….although a bit more research on my part would probably have told me that Marc was allergic to shellfish. A classic interviewer mistake on my part.
This was only my second time seeing Marc, and the first seeing him in a full show, so I was coming to the cause pretty late in the game. But I’d been introduced to him a few months earlier by a mutual friend, and just fell in love with his unique style from the get go. Fortunately, he assured me that he still had room in his life for “new fans,” and he and his media team made me feel warm and welcome.
The only way to describe the experience of seeing Marc is to recall what it’s like to see James Taylor…in that it’s all about the story telling interwoven with the music, as much as it is the songs themselves. Honestly, I could listen to Marc weave his intricate tales all night long…even without the music, but then I would miss out on his smooth as warm brandy voice that makes you feel as though you’re not at a concert at all, but rather just sitting around a campfire with an old friend.
Long time fans were treated to far more than his classic “Walking in Memphis,” with highlights such as “Silver Thunderbird”; “True Companion”; “Perfect Love”; “Listening to Levon”; “Live Out the String”; “Ghost Train” and “Strangers in a Car.” As wonderful as his original tunes are, he also dug deep for some cover tunes that were nothing short of breath taking. The Van Morrison classic “Into the Mystic,” was just wonderful…but for me the highlight of the night was the Paul Simon classic “The Only Living Boy in New York,” with Glenn Patscha playing a haunting piano riff that I only wish I’d caught on tape.
Not to be forgotten for an instant, of course, was the third member of Marc’s trio, my dear friend Jeff Pevar, arguably one of the greatest living guitar players of all time…and simultaneously one of the sweetest people I know. Jeff was on his game tonight, as he always is, and his intricate and elegant guitar licks give me goose-bumps every time. If you doubt it, pick up his new solo CD “From the Core” and you’ll be hooked forever! Originally recommended to Marc by James Taylor, these two have a synchronicity between then that never fades, even if they don’t play together for a few years at a time. When the fates allow these tow to meet back up again to share with us the gift of music, it’s as though they’re truly brothers in arms.
As a fan of great music for as long as I can remember and a musician (and occasional proomoter) myself, I find that while sheer talent is great, it can’t for a moment compare with an artist just being a nice human being. That’s truly one reason that you’ll often find me chatting with my CSN friends, Jackson Browne, Maia Sharp or Bonnie Raitt; they’re just amazing human beings…aside from the music. Well Marc is, without a doubt, one of those special people – as evidenced by what happens after the curtain comes down. Not like some of the newer artists, hiding behind layers of security…Marc headed right out into the lobby, taking photos with fans, giving hugs, and signing CD’s. Now THAT is what makes someone, in my mind, a truly great artist.
If you’re already a fan, then you got there before me, and I’m so jealous! If you’re not yet a fan, I beg you to get to a show!! Don’t wait, as I did, until you stumble across the music by accident, because you’re missing out on truly one of the best in the business.