|Yoakam, Rivers Head Spirited Tribute to Late
By Steve Hochman
Anyone planning a tribute or benefit concert would be wise to study the concert at the House of Blues on Monday that featured Dwight Yoakam and Johnny Rivers honoring Carl Perkins, who died at 62 last month.These shows often are slapped together, stretched-out processions of artists with a token "jam" tacked on at the end. Monday’s event, with proceeds defraying Perkins’ medical bills and assisting his Jackson, Tenn., center for abused children did in fact feature a closing jam. The two headliners were joined by Perkins’ sons, Greg and Stan, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, George Thorogood and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler for Perkins’ rockabilly national anthem, "Blue Suede Shoes." Because of what led up to it, through, it was far from a letdown, but a fitting and rousing end of a gracious, well-rehearsed and concise yet spirited showing of genuine affection for Perkins.Rather than offer individual sets, '60s rocker Rivers (a friend of Perkins) and '80s-'90s country star Yoakam shared the stage for most of the evening, showcasing the continuity and range of Perkins' achievements, which were so influential for the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and John Fogerty. The contrast of their two voices was particularly engaging, with Rivers' honeyed tones and Yoakam's Kentucky twang bouncing off each other through such angular rock classics and "Honey Don't" and "Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby."Throughout, guitarist Waddy Wachtel evoked Perkins' brittle yet fluid picking, while bluegrass-country musician Herb Pederson and soul singer Oren Waters filled out the harmonies with an almost Eagles-like quality. Jennifer Warnes also came on to sing lead on two songs. But more than the music was the spirit of Perkins, who endured a life full of hardship with grace and dignity, that came though the night.