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Wilson Pickett 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Wilson Pickett
with Felix Cavaliere's Rascals
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
December 31

Hearing oldies act Felix Cavaliere's Rascals play a medley including Hendrix riffs was a little bizarre, but then, so was watching upper-crust partygoers in evening gowns and tuxedos strolling through a hip-hop exhibit. But that's the paradox that is the Rock Hall. For the most part, the museum's New Year's Eve bash/fund-raiser was a delightful affair and a pretty cool way to greet the new millennium.

With only 400 or so partiers, the Rock Hall was far from crowded, but that made it easier to hit the elegant buffets and grab shots of vodka from bottles encased in rose-embedded ice. The party's size also gave guests a better shot at scoring silent auction items, though bidding on some of the most desirable offerings didn't actually occur. Anyone willing to cough up guaranteed bid amounts for such collectibles as a print of Henry Diltz's cover photo for the Crosby, Stills & Nash album meant other bidders got shut out -- and the museum lost opportunities to raise even more funds for its education department.

But that didn't seem to faze most of the revelers, at least one of whom had worn a hat festooned with rhinestones, silver stars, and a huge pair of plastic glasses shaped as the number of the new year. The best kitschy 2000 accessory of the night belonged to Cavaliere's daughter, Christina. Her black velveteen purse featured a silver rhinestone champagne bottle perched over two glasses, with blinking LEDs signifying the liquid.

For some reason, headliner Wilson Pickett did not sing until well after "the ultimate midnight hour," but his short set left no doubt that he deserves his Hall of Fame status. Of course, he sang his obligatory signature songs such as "In the Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally," but he also made room for material from It's Harder Now, his first new album in 10 years. On "Soul Survivor," Pickett movingly paid tribute to his R&B colleagues and conveyed his glee at still being around to celebrate a new era -- and with any luck, the rebirth of his career.

-- Lynne Margolis

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