When: Wed., Jan. 20, 9:30 p.m. 2016
One measure of the worth of a Neil Young album is how far he buries it. Unlike the legendary Homegrown and Chrome Dreams, 1974’s On the Beach isn’t a bootleg-only mirage—though he didn’t let it come out on CD until 2003. Another measure of merit is how bleak Young allows an album to get, and in that regard On the Beach shines. “For the Turnstiles,” “Revolution Blues,” “Ambulance Blues,” and the title track conflate the national malaise of America in the post-Watergate/Manson murders era with Young’s own personal and professional state of drift (even rockers like “Walk On” and “Vampire Blues” are suffused with woozy belligerence). The Whistler honors this bitter and sometimes neglected masterpiece as part of its “Playing Favorites” series, in which musicians pay tribute to the “music that resonates most with them.” Singer-guitarist Johnny Young’s recent cassette EP II (Voyager Golden) consists of solo instrumentals that fit into the American Primitive camp, but he also leads a rock trio with viola player Hanna Brock and drummer Jim Lechocki that just returned from a tour of the western U.S. Young performs On the Beach from front to back with a group built around his trio that brings significantly more guitar firepower. Bill Satek and Daniel Wyche trade off on lead guitar, while Doug Malone plays lap steel, Benjamin Pera mans the Wurlitzer electric piano, and Darren Amaya plays bass.