Coming to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on October 7th, Graham Nash is bringing the songs of an extraordinary career, sung in a still-extraordinary voice, and will be accompanied by an extraordinarily creative collaborator. Nash is effusive in his praise toward this individual—Shane Fontayne— to whom he refers as “like looking in a mirror”. No wonder, that: The musical journey that Fontayne has traveled during the past five decades includes a host of artistic achievements that demand unquestioned acknowledgement of a quiet, yet intense musical force. Nash’s new solo album, This Path Tonight, was co-written and produced by Fontayne, and its international success—combined with an equally-successful ongoing tour—has cast the quiet, unassuming guitarist into the spotlight.
|Shane Fontayne and Graham Nash|
It’s been an incredible gift for me, because you have to realize, I saw The Hollies in 1964, and his music and the
music of CSN is so much a part
of my DNA, and to end up writing with him is a major kind of “pinch me”
situation, as we started getting into it. As we began to write, it was all very
natural. And I think the first time, we were just playing through a song that
he was beginning, and then he said, “You’re here. Just kind of go with it.” And
that was kind of how we approached things. It was all very easy and—organic is
a much-used term—but inasmuch as (we would be) sitting on the bus and playing
after a show, and we would just bounce stuff off each other and had fun playing.
I’d been writing since I was a kid; the first song I ever wrote, I actually
took to the Yardbirds, and was like
pounding on their door for several months, and ended up going back to see them
another time, and being backstage playing Jeff
Beck ‘s guitar … when I was a kid!
SF: In 2001, I think it was, MusiCares honored Bono. Rob Mathes was the musical director. Playing with Lone Justice, we’d opened up for U2 on the Joshua Tree tour. I guess Rob had some knowledge of my playing, and there was a certain Edge-like quality (to it). It was kind of concurrent with them. So when Rob was putting a band together for this event for Bono, he called me to be involved. Cut to however many years later—2008—my son was a fan of Panic! At the Disco, and he said (the record) was produced by this man called Rob Mathes. I said, “I know Rob Mathes!” So I wrote to Rob and told him how much my son loved the record. Rob wrote back and said, you know, I might have something for you coming up, (which was) the first Kennedy Center gig back in 2008, which was honoring Townsend and Daltrey. That year, there was a pretty great version of “Love, Reign O’er Me” by Bettye LaVette, that is definitely worth checking out. As the years went on, there was never any presumption about this. But the Kennedy Center honors had Rob Mathes, who was the musical director. He and Michael Stevens, who passed away a year ago … Michael was the producer, along with his father, George Jr., the great movie director. And it was George Jr. who started the honors 38 or 39 years ago. Michael had produced it, but it was Rob who brought me into the fold. For the next 6-7 years, I’ve been kind of on tenterhooks each year, hoping to get a call, and each year I did. A couple of the pinnacles for me were performing for McCartney and also the Led Zeppelin tribute. The thing about the Honors; in general, I don’t get nervous before going onstage but obviously, for something like this, it’s not going out live, but it’s being recorded and it’s as close to a one-shot deal as you can get, other than Saturday Night Live. The thing is, there are five different performances throughout the evening. So, the musical stage for each act – that stage is going to be hydraulically whisked into place about five minutes before you play. So when the movie screen would come down and they would play a retrospective on whoever is being honored. At that point the stage is being moved into place by all the stagehands, then the stage is plugged in, and you just hope that everything is going to come off the way that you want it to! [laughs] There’s kind of an emergency retuning of instruments, and then you’re just there for that last minute or so as the movie is winding down, and then the screen goes up, and you’re going to be looking up into the balcony and you’ll see the President and his wife, and the Vice-President, and McCartney, and whoever it is … Yo-Yo Ma .. It was an incredible experience. That adrenaline as you’re concentrating on playing that first song … you can’t help looking up there. You’re that close where you can see everybody clearly. I saw the Beatles in ’63 … actually, January 2nd of ’64 … and then in ’65 again.
|Graham Nash and Shane Fontayne|
Image by Amy Grantham
|Roy Abrams, Shane Fontayne, Eric Gordon|
May 14, 2016 at The Town Hall, NYC
Image by Yvonne Abrams