Last Tuesday, I saw one Woodstock veteran, Jorma Kaukonen, pull off an amazing show with fellow guitar virtuoso David Bromberg.
I didn't feel any great urgency to see the week's second Woodstock legend, Richie Havens, play Saturday night at Carnegie Lecture Hall. Hearing what it was like, I almost wish I went.
In an email to the paper, a reader wrote, "I thought he was still going strong, as he maintains an active touring schedule, but he seemed incompetent to perform before an audience of about 500 this past weekend. He rambled meaninglessly for at least 30 minutes of his 'concert' and what he did manage to play sounded embarassingly unfocused and out of sync with his accompanist.
"A perhaps adulatory crowd seemed supportive if not puzzled by all this and eventually stood for an encore -- at which time the accompanist bizarrely scribbled notes on a paper, as if to give lyrics to Havens, and then proceeded to sing a song himself as Havens stood lamely by! ...it was absolutely painful to sit through this 'performance' and as the audience laughed lamely at Havens' attempts at chat one could cut the 'the emperor's got no clothes.'
Bob Hoover, a colleague at the Post-Gazette, confirms that this is exactly how it went. Havens played under an hour, doing such songs as "Freedom" and "Here Comes the Sun," and sounded pretty good on guitar. But he also did a lot of rambling banter and didn't click with his sidekick guitarist. Hoover reports that the crowd seemed disinterested and people were heading for the door partway through the set.