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“TO PLAY AT CYMBALS”
BY TERESA BELL-STOCKMAN
FREDERICK NEWS POST
JUNE 11, 1993
“When I was 17, I saw Jimi Hendrix play,” said Nils Lofgren, and “that changed my Life. I knew I wanted to do it for a career.” Lofgren is recognized as one of the best guitarists in the business. He’s a noted singer/songwriter and best known for his association with Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and most recently Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.
He grew up in Montgomery County. “I’m originally from Chicago,” he said. His family moved to Bethesda when he was just 9 years old and then settled in nearby Darnestown. Although he and his wife, Cis, who is an actress, now live in Los Angeles with her son, Lofgren said he returns often to the area to visit family and old friends. “I know Frederick real well,” he said. “I was playing up there in the late 60s,” he added, with his first band Grin. After that band split up, Lofgren produced five solo albums: “Nils Lofgren” in 1975, “Cry Tough” in 1976, ”Wonderland” in 1985, ‘”‘Silver Lining” in 1991, and his latest released last year, “Crooked Line.”
Lofgren said he’s been traveling quite a bit, but spending a good deal of his time working on his latest solo effort, which he plans to release sometime this winter. “I played accordion from age 6 to 15,” Lofgren admitted. “When the Beatles and the Stones came out, I picked up a guitar.” Mostly self taught, Lofgren learned quickly, capitalizing on his powerful, natural talent.
In 1968, at the age of 17, Lofgren began his longtime friendship with rock and roll legend Neil Young, sneaking backstage at one of his concerts. He soon joined Young’s band and played with him for several years. As recently as last year, Lofgren played with Young’s band Stray Gators, and Young reciprocated by appearing on three songs, contributing vocals, guitar and harmonica on Lofgren’s latest solo release.
In 1970, he first met Bruce Springsteen at the old grand ballroom of the Fillmore West in San Francisco. “We stayed in touch and we got to be friends,” said Lofgren. “We were friends long before I was in the band.” When he needed a guitarist for the E Street Band, he gave me a shot at it, recalled Lofgren. He played hundreds of shows with Springsteen from 1984 to 1988. “That was special,” said Lofgren, working with Springsteen. All the members of the E Street Band stay in touch and still consider themselves a band as such, even though most, if not all, are working on solo projects. “You need to play with other musicians,” said Lofgren, who last year also toured for the second time as a featured member and co-musical director with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. His association with Ringo is the latest in a series of collaborations that have won Lofgren acclaim as a talented team player as well as a frontman and a bandleader.
Lofgren is planning an “unplugged” acoustic evening when he appears at Cymbals, located downstairs in the Spectators Entertainment Complex in Braddock Heights.
“We go way back,” said Lofgren of Michael Zack, who was instrumental in bringing Lofgren to Frederick. “We did some tours in the ’70s. He’s a great drummer.” They are planning an intimate evening of music. “It’ll be a living room-jam type of thing,” he said, with his brother Tommy joining him on guitar, keyboard and vocals. Lofgren will be bringing his electric guitar for the evening, said Zack.
Noted for his incendiary guitar driven performances and moving, heartfelt songwriting, Lofgren said he likes to keep the recording process as raw and live as possible. His last album, “Crooked Line,” is in keeping with his objective of maintaining a raw, basic musical approach. “Things came together really quickly, and we didn’t really labor over anything. And I think that comes through in the music.
“This album is me doing what I’m best at,” said Lofgren of “Crooked Line.” But “playing live has always been my favorite thing, because everything’s on the line and you have a great chance to connect emotionally.”
NILS LOFGREN DISCOGRAPHY:
1975 Nils Lofgren
1975 Back it Up (Live)
1976 Cry Tough
1977 I Came To Dance
1977 Night After Night (Live)
1981 Night Fades Away
1982 Rhythm Romance
1986 Code of the Road
1991 Silver Lining
1992 Crooked Line
1993 Live on the Test
1995 Damaged Goods
2001 Acoustic Liv2001 Breakaway Angel
2003 Nils Lofgren Band Live
2006 Sacred Weapon
2008 The Loner- Nils Sings Neil
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