New York singer/songwriter Willie Nile performs at Song Sparrow Hall in Salmon Arm on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. (Cristina Arrigoni photo)

New York singer/songwriter Willie Nile performs at Song Sparrow Hall in Salmon Arm on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. (Cristina Arrigoni photo)

‘Celebrate compassion’: New York’s Willie Nile to rock Salmon Arm’s Song Sparrow Hall

Tickets available now for Aug. 16 concert

By Barb Brouwer

Contributor

New York singer/songwriter Willie Nile will energize Salmon Arm with rocking, big-city vibes this week.

Described by Uncut Magazine as “the unofficial poet laureate of New York,” Nile has dropped 12 albums since 2008, all receiving critical acclaim.

Rolling Stone called The Innocent Ones one of the “Top Ten Best Under-The-Radar Albums of 2011,” and BBC Radio dubbed it “THE rock ‘n’ roll album of the year.”

“One of the most brilliant singer-songwriters of the past 30 years,” raved The New Yorker following the 2014 release of If I Was a River.

Nile has toured across the U.S. with The Who and sung with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Bono, Lou Reed, Lucinda Williams, Jim Jarmusch and Little Steven have also sung his praises.

Justifiably proud of his accomplishments, Nile said it is the transformative power of music that changed his life, and he is deeply grateful that he is able to write, record and share his joy and insights.

“I am a poet who dances to the music of the sphere and tries to communicate that in some way through rock,” he said, noting life is hard for everyone but music has the power to heal. “While we’re here, let’s celebrate life, each other, honour compassion, lift each other’s hearts, pick each other up, celebrate kindness, celebrate compassion.”

Nile’s musical journey began early in a large and loving family in Buffalo, NY. He was one of eight children in a home that thrived on music, a grandfather whom he describes as a 20-year veteran of concerts, two musician uncles and an older brother who made great music too. His mother’s classical and big-band favourites filled the home as well.

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“I took classical piano at eight, then played drums. I started writing songs in high school, and went to college and picked up a guitar,” he said, recalling the days of Buddy Holly, The Beatles, the Supremes and many more. “I saw the first waves of rock and roll.”

A 74-year-old resident of Greenwich Village, Nile said he continues to be inspired by the rich history of the neighbourhood and the cosmopolitan flavour of New York.

“It moves me, I can see Bleecker Street out my window. Bob Dylan wrote Blowing in the Wind there, it’s where Hendrix lived,” he said, crediting his parents for always welcoming foreign exchange students, musicians and others of varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds. “It was a cosmopolitan soup and we all grew up with open arms, open hearts and open minds – a great, great way to be.”

Excited by life, Nile maintains his journey of discovery continues.

He said his shows are feel-good on purpose, but the lyrics mine joyful highs and painfully dark places.

His 2018 album Children of Paradise was inspired by the inhabitants of the streets of New York and is accompanied by his wife Christina Arrigoni’s stunning photos that capture the humanity of her subjects.

The album earned kudos from American Songwriter, an industry magazine that declared, “It’s another prime example of everything Willie Nile does well, and this recent creative rebirth finds him in prime form.”

Nile’s latest offering, The Day the Earth Stood Still, was inspired by the unsettling silence of New York City streets when Covid hit and drops today, Aug. 13.

The Ted Harrison Foundation, Acoustic Avenue Music, the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society and CKVS-FM 93.7 present Willie Nile in concert at Song Sparrow Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 7:30.

NiIe will be joined on stage by Johnny Pisano on bass, Jon Weber on drums and Jimi Bones on lead guitar and vocals.

Doors open at 6:30 and barbecue food trucks will be on site. For tickets, go online to songsparrowhall.ca.


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