Thursday, January 10, 2008

Richie Havens Turns Back the 'Hands of Time'

I can't say enough positive things about Richie Havens. Like most other people, who have heard of him, I first experienced his impassioned singing and unique percussive guitar playing while watching his event opening performance at the legendary Woodstock festival. After playing every song he knew, his improvised set-closing 'Freedom" will forever be linked with the historic images and sounds of arguably the most famous concert ever organized. He currently tours the country continuously and still sounds just like he did at Woodstock in 1969. Almost unbelievably, Richie was 28 years old when he played the upstate New York festival almost 40 years ago. He is currently 66 and shows no signs of slowing down. He performs two to three shows per year in the DC area. I have seen him perform on numerous occasions and each time I am floored by how powerful and emotive his voice is. And I should add that he always takes the time to shake hands and sign autographs after his concerts.

In 2000, Richie teamed up with British electronic music duo Groove Armada for the song "Hands of Time". In doing this, he was introduced to a new generation, and I believe he delivers one of the best vocal performances of his career. In an interview posted in October of last year, Groove Armada's Tom Findlay states, upon being asked who his favorite artist that he has worked with was, he answered "Richie Havens, a folk singer who opened Woodstock in 1969, he's just a really talented guy. " The collaboration went so well that Groove Armada invited Richie to perform on the track "Little By Little" which appears in their 2002 album Lovebox.

In this video of Richie Havens performing "Hands of Time" live with Groove Armada on British TV program Later with Jools Holland, he is in fine vocal form and clearly enjoying the unique position that he finds himself in. This is a rare opportunity to see him fronting a large band, of young hipsters at that. I wish that he did this more often, as he consistently plays seated either solo or with limited acoustic accompaniment.

If so inclined and you have up to an hour of time, you can watch this extended interview and performance with Richie Havens taped in October 2004.

In other Richie Havens news, he has just wrapped up a new album, his first since 2004, titled 'Nobody Left to Crown.' This latest album features guests Derek Trucks and Harry Manx.

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