Patti Smith has her McGarrigles moment

Went to hear Patti Smith at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last weekend -- her fifth appearance there, and hence a long way from St. Mark's Church and CBGB's. I did it because I like her music and like to keep abreast of it, in part because I'd seen the home-movie feature-length documentary about her and wanted to check up on the live person, and in part because I've just agreed to write a longish essay for an Italian coffee-table book on her.

It was a nice event, on the Saturday before Election Day. Patti, who has leaned towards Ralph Nader in the past, said nothing political but did end with "Power to the People" and did urge us all to vote.

The niceness of the evening apparently reflects her personality, as captured in the film. The Met concert was not rock & roll; it was "unplugged," as we have learned to say. It was full of awkward slip-ups, like sheet music and lyrics repeatedly cascading to the floor from a music stand; nothing serious, but sweetly amateurish.

As such it reminded me of almost any concert by the McGarrigles, that beloved family folk act from Montreal who might once have seemed about as far from Patti Smith's artsy rock & roll rebel image as could be imagined. I wrote a whole essay for the NY Times about the last McGarrigles concert I heard; you can read it here or in my compilation, "Outsider," pp. 439-441. The McGarrigles surround themselves with anicillary sisters and children (Martha and Rufus Wainwright et al.) and collaborators of such vintage that they might as well be family, themselves.

On Nov. 1 Patti had her son Jackson Smith and her daughter Jesse Smith (since her late husband Fred was named Smith, too, no feminist issues arose in  the choice of their last names), along with her sister Kimberly Smith and Lenny Kaye, himself as family-style collaborator dating back nearly 40 years.

The whole thing was just lovely, which doesn't mean Patti Smith has lost her edge. How one person can combine the incantory, the impassioned, the angry, the loving and the goofy in one angular package is a small miracle. Maybe not so small.     

November 15, 2008 5:46 PM | | Comments (1)

1 Comments

Saw Patti and family perform at Summerstage in Central Park a decade or so ago and at the Tibetan Freedom Concert on Randall's Island around the same time. What a consumate poet, performer and role model.

Leave a comment

Blogroll

For an ongoing conversation and news reports about arts journalism, go to the blog of the National Arts Journalism Program, here.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by John Rockwell published on November 15, 2008 5:46 PM.

Peter Brook's Simplicity was the previous entry in this blog.

Slow Journalism is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads


AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

culture
About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Dewey21C
Richard Kessler on arts education
diacritical
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Flyover
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

dance
Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

jazz
Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
ListenGood
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Rifftides
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

media
Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Overflow
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
PianoMorphosis
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
PostClassic
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Sandow
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

publishing
book/daddy
Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

theatre
Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

visual
Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
Artopia
John Perreault's art diary
CultureGrrl
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.