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John Paul Jones Sits In With Dave Rawlings Machine In L.A.


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This was originally posted on an L.A. area blog and then posted by Dave Rawlings' father on a music email list:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings

at Largo 7-16-09

So last night the wife and I went to see Gillian Welch at the Largo. I have one

of her albums and the O Brother soundtrack, so I'm familiar with her stuff but

not a hardcore fan. I just figured it would be a good show, and the Largo is an

awesome venue, which seats about 280 I think. She comes out with David Rawlings,

her longtime partner who I also know from their work on Ryan Adams' first album.

Two of the first three songs are from the album I have (Time the Revelator), and

Rawlings is an unbelievable guitarist. Neither of them is plugged in, they just

have their acoustic guitars (and occasional banjo) mic'd and it sounds

phenomenal. He is also hysterical, and their between song banter is really

funny. You can tell they're having a good time.

After 45 minutes or so, Gillian says they'd like to bring out a few friends, but

they're going to take a break first to figure out what to play. They come back

out, play a couple more songs, then ask Benmont Tench to come out. I knew he was

the keyboard player for Tom Petty, so I thought that was pretty cool. They play

a song but you can't even hear the piano, which was disappointing. After the

song they ask John Paul Jones to come out…and I'm floored. JPJ was the bassist

for a small indie band called Led Zeppelin, he arranged the strings on R.E.M.'s

Automatic for the People, and I'm sure he's done a ton of other great things

(and probably some bad ones). But did I mention he was the bassist for Led

Zeppelin? Anyway, here he is the mandolin player.

So the four of them play a song, and after it Gillian asks if we could hear JPJ

(we couldn't) and someone yells out we couldn't hear Ben either. So they fix

that for the next song, they bring out Sara and Jon Watkins, who play fiddle and

guitar, and Jon Brion, who's playing acoustic guitar (he also owns the Largo, is

a record producer, film score composer, and puts on a phenomenal show of his

own…but I digress). They run through a few songs and it sounds really great, and

the wife and I are having the time of our lives.

Before the end of the set, they mention that after the show a few people will be

playing in the Little Room, which is a small venue in the Largo "complex." They

say only 50 can get in, so we figured we would give it a shot, but we weren't

overly optimistic. When the show ends, a mad rush of people head out to get in

line at the LR, and my hopes are dashed. I go to get some cash (LR is cash-only

and they want people to buy drinks), the wife gets in line, I meet her and count

about 35-40 people in front of us in line. Feeling better about getting in but

still trying not to get too excited.

To make a short story long, we get in, get a beer and grab a seat. It's not even

full in there, which is surprising, but we're not sure what to expect. The

Watkins get up there and play a few songs and sound really good, then they ask

if Jo(h)n can come up and play. Brion comes up and they ask if any other Jons

want to play, so JPJ goes up there, as does Benmont. Again, this is a concert

for about 40 people, and the bassist for Led Zeppelin is playing (in case I

didn't make that clear). There is one microphone and a piano on a stage that is

probably 10 x 10 feet, if that. They run through a few songs, and then Sara

Watkins asks if Fiona is there. So Fiona Apple comes up and sings lead on a few

songs, and she sounds unbelievable. Then they ask Gillian and David to come up,

so now it's Sara and Jon Watkins, Benmont, Fiona, Jon Brion, John Paul Jones,

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings on stage playing a couple songs, including

Leadbelly's "In the Pines" that Nirvana famously played on Unplugged.

The show ends, we leave and walk right next to JPJ and Fiona, out the door and

back into reality, not really believing what we just saw (all apologies to Jack

Buck). Someone on the street asked if the Little Room just got out, but I didn't

hear them and they had to repeat the question. We probably looked stoned or

drunk, but we didn't care. One of the best concert experiences of my life.

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Well I didn't make that show as I was at the Hammer Museum early thursday evening before heading to the original Zero's reunion show at the Troubadour(with the MUFFS also on the bill! Kim still looks and sounds great!).

But having been to Largo hundreds of times over the years(I slightly prefer its original Fairfax Blvd. incarnation), I have been lucky enough to see Jonesy pop in any number of times, usually during Nickel Creek, Watkins Twins or Watkins Family Hour nights at Largo. Jones just produced Sara Watkins recent debut album and I highly recommend it.

Last time I saw Jonesy at Largo was February 2008...almost the same bunch as played this show the other night, only it was more cozy for it being at the Fairfax location. Shortly thereafter, Largo relocated to the larger Coronet Theatre on La Cienga Blvd., just opposite the Star Strip club, haha!

Anyway, that night in February, one of the highlights was a rendition of "Going to California" with Jones on mandolin of course! Epic! Slayed the entire room.

By the way, Benmont Tench is also a frequent guest at Largo shows, as is Fiona Apple, especially during Jon Brion's NOT-TO-BE-MISSED Friday night gigs. Whatever you think of Ms. Apple, you'll think of her in an entirely new light when you hear her wrap her vocal cords around some Great American Songbook song like "Am I Blue" or "Don't Get Around Much Anymore".

Oh, and that blogger has it wrong...it is Mark Flanagan("Flanny") that owns Largo not Jon Brion.

Anyway, if you are ever in Los Angeles, you owe it to yourself to see a show at Largo...try to make Jon Brion's Friday night show at least. But look at the schedule and see if either the Watkins Twins or the Watkins Family Hour is scheduled and you might stand a good chance at seeing Jonesy pop in for a bit of bluegrass.

And Jones has been doing this for years before Plant hooked up with Krauss.

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