by Andria Lisle
Just the other night, a tidbit in the New Yorker about Harper Simon's self-titled debut caught my eye — mainly because the album was recorded with American Studios session alums Gene Chrisman and Mike Leech. What slipped my attention was the news that Simon was performing at the Hi-Tone Cafe tonight, after a month-long residency at Los Angeles' famed Largo nightclub.
The son of the iconic Paul Simon (and the subject matter of tunes such as "St. Judy's Comet" and, yes, "Graceland"), Harper updates Sweethearts of the Rodeo-era Byrds and Dylan's Nashville oeuvre with the help of legendary producer Bob Johnston, who manned the control board for Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, Nashville Skyline, Blonde on Blonde and John Wesley Harding; the Man in Black's Hello, I'm Johnny Cash; Leonard Cohen's Songs From a Room; and Simon & Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, and Bookends.
Harper also recruited some of the original players, including Leech and Chrisman and Charlie McCoy, Lloyd Green, and Hargus "Pig" Robbins.
Here's "Tennessee," co-written by Harper and Paul Simon, with Leech on bass and Chrisman on drums:
Also assisting on the album: Second-generation musicians Petra (daughter of Charlie) Haden, Inara (daughter of Lowell) George, and Sean (son of John and Yoko) Lennon, rocker Joan Wasser, guitar genius Marc Ribot, and singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell.
For the tour, Harper assembled a more stripped down rock outfit that includes JSBX drummer Russell Simins, bassist Jeff Hill, and multi-instrumentalist Gregg Foreman.
No word from the Hi-Tone's booking agent, Dan Holloway, on who else will be backing Harper at tonight's show, although special guests have been showing up at various gigs on the road.
Show time is 10 p.m.; admission is $10. Don't you dare miss it!