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November 27, 2014

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A few of my favorite things from last night’s Neil Young tribute show

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The local music scene paid tribute to Neil Percival Young, OC, Friday night at the Royal House, the latest in a run of cover nights that’s seen Vegas bands take on the music of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Smiths and more. As videos of Young—including one that featured, strangely, what appeared to be Jawas from Star Wars—rolled onscreen behind them, familiar faces teamed up in unfamiliar combinations. Some of the highlights:

* The debut of Ronald Corso’s new project, Anjin-San. Best known around town for his production work and for having played bass in A Crowd of Small Adventures, Corso opened the show with thundering takes on “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” and “Powderfinger” from Young’s 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps (Corso’s “all-time desert island disc,” he later informed me). Wearing an apropos red flannel shirt and flanked by guitarist Sean Villaros, bassist Ricky Pinto and drummer Spencer Burton, Corso sang lead vocals and played guitar for an audience for the first time since 1994, nailing Young’s grungy guitar tone in the process. Looking forward to hearing more from Anjin-San.

* Jackson Wilcox, frontman for A Crowd of Small Adventures, onstage with his mom Denise, a former folk singer, for “Harvest Moon.” Denise’s niece, Dusty Sunshine’s Chani Leavitt, rounded out the family affair, while Dreaming of Lions’ Joe Ervin contributed harmonica.

* A bluesy take on “Out on the Weekend” from Erin Austin, singer for visiting Oklahoma band (and January Royal residents) OK Sweetheart, backed by local musicians Mike Weller (A Crowd of Small Adventures), Ian Dewane (Rusty Maples), Mike McGuinness (Dude City) and Ervin. Austin, Weller, Dewane and McGuinness play the Royal again tonight at 8 p.m., then leave Monday for a week-long West Coast tour.

* The debut of A Crowd of Small Adventures’ new lineup, featuring bassist Kevin Oakley, on “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down by the River” from Young’s 1969 album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. ACOSA has been working up a batch of brand new tunes, with an eye toward returning to the stage later this year.

* A quartet of Young numbers from Dusty Sunshine—“The Needle and the Damage Done,” “Old Man,” “Heart of Gold” and “Cowgirl in the Sand”—with each Dusty member (including drummer Courtney Carroll) taking a turn on lead vocals. Also cool: Megan Wingerter filling in on bass for the absent Jason Aragon, and folkie Summer Soll ripping into an electric guitar for “Cowgirl.”

* An all-star lineup featuring brothers Blair and Ian Dewane, Leavitt, Wingerter, Jackson Wilcox and Bryan Todd capping the show with a monstrous “Carry On.” Okay, so it’s technically a Stephen Stills song (off CSNY album Déjà Vu), but hey, hearing it meant witnessing some sensational guitar work from Ian Dewane, so I’m not complaining.

Can we do this again next weekend?

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