Hal Willner – Shock and Awe: The Songs of Randy Newman

2004, January 23 – Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA

“Shock and Awe” was the second of two back-to-back performances featuring Randy Newman at Royce Hall in L.A. Newman himself performed songs from “The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1,” on January 23rd, followed by the Hal Willner produced tribute night “Shock and Awe”.

In the tradition of Willner’s Harry Smith Project, Willner put together an eclectic musical cast for his take on the Newman songbook. Willner and co-producer Janine Nichols reviewed almost 300 of Newman’s compositions and selected about 40 songs.

Artists performing on the night included: Terry Adams, Perla Batalla, Steve Berlin, Vic Chesnutt, Julie Christensen, Elvis Costello, E, Elysian Fields, Jimmy Fallon, Bill Frisell, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer, Bill Frisell, Ellen Greene, Ed Harcourt, David Hidalgo, Robin Holcomb, Peter Holsapple, Bob Neuwirth, Van Dyke Parks, Stan Ridgway, Steve Soles, Joey Spampinato, Chris Spedding, Rip Torn, Pete Thomas, Marc Anthony Thompson, John Ventimiglia and Victoria Williams.

The band included Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Sebastian Steinberg, Pete Thomas, Davey Faragher and an orchestra of horns and strings.

Stan Ridgway’s performed “Bad News from Home” and “Rider in the Rain,” Victoria Williams sang “Texas Girl at the Funeral of her Father” and “Davey the Fat Boy”, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo’s sang “Sail Away” and “Going Home.”

Jack Shit played “My Old Kentucky Home”, Jennifer Charles played “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield”, pianist Van Dyke Parks joined Frisell and Leisz for the main title of the film “Ragtime”; E (of the Eels) sang “Living Without You”, actor Rip Torn read “Political Science”; Robin Holcomb did “Shining” and Ed Harcourt’s sang “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”.

Gavin Friday’s sang “Germany Before the War” and “You Can Leave Your Hat On”.

The L.A. Times wrote: “Gavin Friday, for instance, found a strain of defiant affirmation amid the sad self-delusion in the “I know what love is!” rant from “You Can Leave Your Hat On.””

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.