New Jersey Stage
Monday, October 24, 2011
THE FLIP SIDE OF NILS LOFGREN
What was that they used to say about Ginger Rogers — that she could do everything Fred Astaire could do, only backwards and in heels? Well, Nils Lofgren can match any of the world's greatest guitar heroes lick for lick — even, on occasion, while upside down.
The veteran singer, songwriter and axeman first emerged from a crowded field of rock-star hopefuls in the early 1970s when he became known as the man with the moves — a player whose pyrotechnic prowess on the electrified strings was supercharged on stage by gravity-defying backflips, leaps and dance gymnastics.
Whether he was fronting the power trio known as Grin or creating FM solo staples like "Keith Don't Go" and "I Came to Dance," the Maryland-based musician was causing some fairly formidable fans to flip over his skills as sideman, collaborator and all-around lieutenant — from Neil Young (who drafted a then-teenage Nils into membership in Crazy Horse) and Lou Reed, to Bruce Springsteen, who famously rolled out the E Street welcome wagon for Lofgren when Steve Van Zandt announced his departure from full-time band duty.
More than 25 years after the landmark Born in the USA tour, Nils Lofgren continues to contribute eloquent, passionately played guitar leads — augmented, even despite double hip replacement surgery, by stadium-pleasing somersaults, trampoline flips and dance moves — to the Boss's albums and full-band concerts. In recent years, however, a new generation has discovered what thousands of longtime fans have already known: the fact that Nils Lofgren can make an audience ooh and aah simply by sitting on a stool with his guitar.
On the evening of Friday, October 28, Lofgren takes the stage of the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University for a special concert presentation that offers a rare and intimate look at this ever-evolving, ever-surprising guitarist at work. Produced in conjunction with Concerts East, the 8 p.m. event is presented by the Center for the Arts at Monmouth as part of the 2011-2012 Performing Arts Series on the West Long Branch campus.
On solo projects like the 2006 Acoustic Live and a 2008 album of stripped-down Young covers, Lofgren put forward a quieter, if no less intense, "flip side" to his stadium-scale stage persona — with acclaimed shows at venues like the legendary Stone Pony, and a polyrhythmic fingerstyle method of guitar playing that has drawn comparisons to British master Richard Thompson — himself a frequent guest on the Pollak stage.
Lofgren's appearance at Monmouth University's flagship auditorium follows recent one man/ one guitar gigs by folk-rock legends Roger McGuinn and Richie Havens, as well as by international hitmaker Colin Hay and musically minded movie star Jeff Daniels. Promising a set of freshly reinterpreted classics and other surprises by Lofgren and his many friends, the guitarist's show is expected to feel right at home inside the Pollak, a performance venue that has been justifiably hailed as one of New Jersey's premier theaters for acoustic music.
To purchase tickets, or for additional information about the 2011-2012 Performing Arts season, please contact the Monmouth University Performing Arts Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online at www.monmouth.edu/arts.