Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bearsville theater hosting Todd Rundgren

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20100711%2FNEWS%2F7110332%2F-1%2FNEWS

By Timothy Malcolm
Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 07/11/10
With Todd Rundgren, the disclaimer always reads that you should never expect normal.

That's not him — the one-man musical master who played and produced the near entirety of epic solo works "Something/Anything?" and "A Wizard/A True Star," twisting rock, Disney themes and spoken word to fit his melodic mind. Rundgren never sticks to convention, so it's apt he's now recording an album and producing a show of covers of blues master Robert Johnson, and it's apt he's calling it "Rundgren's Johnson."

It's coming Tuesday to the Bearsville Theater, the kid's old stomping grounds.

IF YOU GO
What: Todd Rundgren: "Rundgren's Johnson"
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker St., Woodstock
Price: $45 for general admission
Call: 679-4406
Visit: www.bearsvilletheater.com

"They definitely have his stamp on them," said Rundgren's guitarist Jesse Gress about the Johnson tunes, of which the band (Rundgren, Gress, Prairie Prince and Kasim Sulton) will play about a dozen in a British blues style. They'll intersperse the Johnson songs with some of Rundgren's more bluesy songs, reworking them to fit the set. Four nuggets that haven't been performed live much are making the rounds in this show: "Boogies (Hamburger Hell)" (1976), "Kiddie Boy" (Nazz, 1969), "Bleeding" (1971) and "I Went to the Mirror" (1972).

"His version of blues gets a little left of center, but I like that sometimes," said Gress, who lives in Woodstock, where Rundgren lived from the 1970s to the 1990s, recording as the major star of the now-defunct Bearsville Records. "It's sort of 21st-century blues."

Rundgren has always pointed ahead with his music, more recently reproducing full albums on stage. He's done "A Wizard/A True Star" and will be doing "Todd" and "Healing" together in September. "An acid trip" juxtaposed with "an out-of-body experience," Gress said, and a tall order, as "Todd" is a double album.

"These album shows have been subsidized by a couple of fans, which shows you the extent to which Todd's fans will go to get him to play his stuff," Gress said.

Case in point: Later this year, Rundgren will make his first trip to New Zealand for two shows, while also playing a week in Japan. But first, it's back to Bearsville.

"It's my favorite gig in the world," Gress said.