David Crosby:
Let The Music Be Your Guide

February 1, 2014
City Winery
New York, NY

Story & Photos by Kimberly Annette

I had been in the city for less than 24 hours when I got the text: “David Crosby is playing tomorrow night. Would you like to go shoot the show?” It was Shawn Perry from VintageRock.com.  Shawn is a friend and collaborator but he usually writes and I take the photos. He knew I had come to New York for another show and would be in town only until Sunday — perfect, right? You know when chance things like that happen the result in the end is more often than not a special thing. This was definitely one of those times and I was in for one amazing evening of music and photos.

Once I looked up the directions to the venue for the evening it became even more apparent how things — whether you say cosmically or by some other feat of supernatural existence  — were coming together. I was meant to photograph David Crosby in New York City. The venue: the City Winery on Verick; My hotel: Not even a block away. Amazing.

The City Winery is pretty much as I expected — beautiful, calming earth tone décor, a highly attentive staff, and, although I did not eat, the fragrant aroma that hung in the air was enough for me to know the food is delicious. After all, it is a winery, well-decorated with comfortable places to sit and enjoy wine, food, and friends.

A functioning wine-making enterprise, the City Winery has all the mechanics for making wine within view. There is a temperature-controlled room off to one side of the large room where concerts are held, lined with vats of wine fermenting, becoming that delightful succulent nectar that humans have been enjoying almost from the time we stated walking on two feet. The feel within the walls of this winery is as if one had been mystically transported off to the beauty of the sprawling rolling vineyards of Napa, California, for a brief vacation from the world or city right outside the door.

Taking a seat at the bar while waiting for the show to start, I became the quiet observer, watching the varied mix of people enjoying their wine, dinner, friends and waiting for David Crosby. There were those that time passed by and allowed, if only within their mind, to remain a child of peace, making love not war. There were no outward signs, but you could tell they had obviously been a part of that same mindset, a generation on fire. Eventually, they moved on in life.

David Crosby has left a profound musical mark on his generation, whether it was with the Byrds, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, or on his own as a solo artist. His music have moved hearts and set minds free. That kind of impact isn’t easily forgotten. Some of the crowd may have been a little younger, and like myself, just there for the show. But everyone had the understanding of who Crosby is  — a skilled poet and master of harmonizing melodic metaphors. No matter our background or age, we were there to absorb the performance. And we would not be disappointed!

Crosby took the stage with his band — Kevin McCormack (bass), Marcus Eaton (guitar), Shane Fontayne (guitar), Steve DiStanislao (drums), and James Raymond (keyboards). Raymond is Crosby’s biological son, given up for adoption. In Raymond’s early 30s, he would reunited with Crosby, and to his surprise it was the real David Crosby, not just another man named David Van Cortland Crosby.

I recognized a parallel and another reason I was drawn to this show. Before I was even brought into this world, my adoption papers had been settled and signed, and from the moment of my birth, I was to call two strangers mom and dad. At 32, I reunited with my birth mom, we became good friends, and I really to see her as my one and only mother. It’s similar to Raymond reuniting with Crosby. The reunion not only brought them together as father and son; it also led to a creative musical partnership.

Croz, Crosby’s 2014 solo release, is a direct result of that collaboration between father and son. The result is a perfect mix of folk rock with a smooth jazz feel, seasoned with poetic lyrics. The music is not only well written and produced, but the lyrics are thought-provoking and challenging in that unmistakable Crosby style. There are not many artists that can use a word such as “antithesis,” and not only make it work, but make it sound wonderful while singing it.

Hearing the full release in its entirety live was a real treat. Crosby’s agent is a genius, booking the show at a winery — a perfect fit for the music. Croz goes well with a nice Cabernet, a plate of cheese and flat bread, with good friends to enjoy it with. As I moved throughout the winery, shooting photos in the shadows, I listened and I found myself hypnotically enticed by the song “Holding On To Nothing. Being drawn in, I just wanted to close my eyes and feel the music. After hearing the Celtic folk vibe of “The Clearing,” I was hooked and thoroughly enjoying myself. Then I heard the blend of music and lyrics on “Radio” and“Set That Baggage Down,” and my mind was taking me even deeper into the music of Croz.

The night’s second set consisted of the songs we all know, spanning Crosby’s  career — from Byrds classics like Eight Mile High” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” (originally recorded by the recently deceased Pete Seeger) to  CSN tunes like  “Guinnevere” and “Déjà Vu.” Just in case you were wondering, Crosby did do “Long Time Gone” at the encore. It was a fitting end, considering Croz, his first new album in over 20 years, was, in fact, “a long time coming.”

Yes, it was an amazing evening, so thank you David Crosby, James Raymond, Kevin McCormack, Marcus Eaton, Shane Fontayne, and Steve DiStanislao for giving us a magical evening filled with musical bliss. There really is something to be said about artists that have been in the business for a while. They have lived the breaks and damage that come throughout life, and they survived. Their skills are now honed; their ability to deliver, pure joy. David Crosby belongs in that club and beyond!

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