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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

10/10: Willie Nile at Wilbert's

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 4:36 PM

The list of “New Dylans” is a long one, stretching from David Blue to Conor Oberst. It’s a term that’s a mixed blessing at best, bringing high praise and even higher expectations. For a brief time in the early ’80s, Buffalo-born, New York City-based singer-songwriter Willie Nile wore the crown. His 1980 debut received critical kudos, and Pete Townshend asked him to open for The Who. Nile’s music sets Springsteen-like story-songs to fiery rock ’n’ roll. That he didn’t live up to his hype has more to do with the treacherous music business than his talent. But Nile has persevered, making some of the best music of his career. Bono called 2006’s Street of New York a “great album,” and this year’s House of a Thousand Guitars is a thoroughly compelling record. The rocking Dylanesque title track serves as a rousing ode to music, and it’s hard to top the chimey and endearing love song “Her Love Falls Like Rain.” Nile proves equally skilled at crafting smart garage rockers (“Run” and “Magdalena”) and quieter piano-based numbers (like the politically charged “Now That the War Is Over” and the evocative “When the Last Light Goes Out on Broadway”). Onstage, Nile’s quite a New York character — like someone Al Pacino might have played in a movie — covering his pals the Ramones and tossing out a Martin Scorsese encounter along with his own personal, intensely played tunes. The Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra opens the show at Wilbert’s (812 E. Huron Ave. 216.902.4663). Tickets: $15 suggested donation. — Michael Berick

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