Nils Lofgren Springs Into Action
with a Return to the Northeast Circuit
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Nils Lofgren is springing into solo touring action in 2015. Since Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band are on hiatus for now, Nils (accordion, dobro, harp, guitars & more) is on the road with Greg Varlotta (guitars, keys & trumpet) to present some of the tracks from his latest release - Face the Music. caught up with Lofgren at the Carl Pfeifer Performing Arts Stage in Wyckoff, New Jersey on May 1, 2015.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Nils Lofgren in New Jersey.

Only a few select musicians can say that they have played with Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Neil Young and Ringo Starr but multi-instrumentalist Nils Lofgren has. Since 1984, Nils has been one of the guitar players in the E Street Band. Lofgren also has 24 solo albums and four Grin records to his long list of credits. In 2014, Nils released Face the Music (Fantasy Label) a 45-year career spanning box set. The collection contains 9 CDs with a DVD filled with gems and rarities.

Nils opened his eclectic show strumming a harp and singing. For the second song Lofgren switched to an electric guitar for the edgy "Too Many Miles" with Greg punctuating the points of Nils' prose on piano. "Thank you, great to be back," greeted Lofgren. He said that the next song was about wrestling with demons that he thought he would get rid of with time but didn't. One of those demons was gin which has since been replaced by ice cream. Nils played "New Holes in Old Shoes" on an acoustic utilizing a slide in a cool, unorthodox way as he looped guitar leads.

Nils played a hot mix of acoustic songs and electric scorchers.

"I been on the road 46 years," remarked Lofgren - joking that he might lose the ability to carry on a conversation as the night progressed (he didn't). He also mentioned Face the Music the retrospective box set in which Fantasy Records "shockingly" said to him to "do what you think best". Nils' wife Amy produced it and musicologist Dave Marsh helped Lofgren with the booklet and photos. This flowed into "Lost a Number" from his Grin days. It was a dark piece about young love with a diabolical end.

Lofgren's performance included lots of licks, leads and loops.

One of many highlights of the Wyckoff concert was the tune "Miss You Ray" originally inspired by Ray Charles but since dedicated to his departed musical friends including Clarence Clemons. It was a sweet sentimental tune featuring just Nils on an acoustic. Next, "Girl in Motion" a song Amy insisted he play was expansive with layered looping guitar parts. Lofgren said that "Rusty Gun" was one of his favorite Grin songs. Varlotta on trumpet added a Spanish flair to this spirited tale.

Nils told stories and gave insight into the origins of the music.

Nils cited his bandmate Steven Van Zandt and how that connection lead to the brooding "Black Books" being used during the second season of the popular TV show The Sopranos. This was another track that Nils utilized effects combined with taps on the body of the guitar for rhythm. "Take You to the Movies Tonight" had a sweet old fashion feel to it. "Keith Don't Go" was written as a thank you note to Keith Richards. The song was almost unworldly with the unusual touch methods that Nils used before shifting to intense strumming.

Nils moved to the piano about two-thirds of the way into his set for a few songs.

Lofgren shared that as a kid he played polka songs on the accordion. During the recording sessions for Neil Young's "Southern Man" Nils was fiddling with some piano parts of the song in a polka double time and Neil liked it so much that it became part of the song. In response to an inquiry from someone in the crowd Lofgren gave a brief summary of the places he has lived. He recalled meeting his future wife at The Stone Pony. Years later when both were going through divorces they would finally become a couple.

Nils signed these three albums for

Another high point of the show was Greg tap dancing the beat of "Mud in Your Eyes" as Nils sang and strummed the song. Lofgren also played piano on a number of tunes throughout the night. During the encore Nils declared that he was blessed to have joined the E Street band 30 years ago, which was the perfect opening for him to cover Springsteen's "Because the Night". Greg on acoustic supported Lofgren who soared on the electric. Nils even spinned around in circles as he performed this energized version. "Shine Silently" also shined brightly to close Lofgren's diverse show on a high note.

After this concert Lofgren was available to say hello and sign stuff for his fans. In addition to hosting Nils Lofgren the Wyckoff YMCA will be showcasing an outdoor summer concert series in 2015. Opening for Nils was Chrissi Poland from New York City. She was a strong singer playing keys and supported by a drummer. Songs such as "Angels Weep for Me" and "Dawn" were insightful and soulful. Chrissi closed her engaging set with "Stand By Me" to honor Ben E King who we lost on April 30, 2015.

Opening act Chrissi Poland was impressive as she premiered her newest numbers.

Related Links: For more information on NILS LOFGREN and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Nils Lofgren | Chrissi Poland | Wyckoff WMCA

(Originally Published on May 02, 2015)




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