Roger McGuinn Tops the Taste

The Band - Roger McGuinn

Taste of Chicago - Grant Park

July 6, 1994

First Appeared in The Music Box, July 1994, Volume 1, #2

Written by John Metzger


Taste of Chicago is hardly a "taste" anymore, considering it costs $6-7 for a soda, sandwich, and fries, and what's left is a bad case of indigestion. Nevertheless, the music seems to just get better. This year was sponsored heavily by local station WXRT, and the artists selected to perform included The Lemonheads, Squeeze, Roger McGuinn, The Band, the subdudes, and Carlos Santana. The shows were free, but the sound system and "security" measures hardly were suited to serving a large crowd.

Roger McGuinn, The Band, and Jesse Colin Young performed on a perfect triple bill on July 6. Young, formerly with the Youngbloods, opened the show with a rather bland solo set that was delivered over a recorded drum beat. Young was best on the classic Get Together which paled in comparison to the original version and sadly lost most of its feeling.

McGuinn took the stage with backing band The Headlights and plowed through a 14-song set, mixing classics from The Byrds and solo tunes. Having a group with him allows McGuinn to perform in a slightly different mode, and he tends to do more songs off his 1991 release Back From Rio. Included in the set was a haunting version of the environmental statement The Trees Are All Gone. Also from the latest album came the beautiful Your Love is a Gold Mine, which flowed into the eerie Back From Rio Interlude before landing squarely in the pop hit King of the Hill.

Of course, there were plenty of tunes by The Byrds to go around, including a hard rockin' version of Lover of the Bayou and a surprise rendition of Tiffany Lamp. As is customary, Chesnut Mare was a highlight, as was the set-closing, psychedelia of Eight Miles High, which featured some searing guitar licks from McGuinn and the lead guitarist of the Headlights.

The Band very quickly took the stage for a 75-minute set featuring many songs off its new album Jericho. If the live performance is any indication as to the quality of this album, it must be fantastic. All the new songs, including a cover of Bruce Springsteen's Atlantic City, fit right into the format of the group's classic outings. The Shape I'm In, Stage Fright, and Chest Fever are just a few of the nuggets that were delivered by the ensemble, and each contained some killer guitar and keyboard solos. Naturally, Garth Hudson shined above them all with his flights on saxophone and accordion. Although The Band shied away from many of its classic tunes, it did fit in the obligatory song recently sold to Diet Coke: The Weight. This was once a great song, but has been reduced to commercial drivel, thanks to a rainforest destroying capitalist conglomerate. Talk about a surefire way to undermine a legacy.

Roger McGuinn's Back from Rio is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

The Band's High on the Hog is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!


Copyright 1994 The Music Box