Grand Stand at The Strand — Peter Asher, Albert Lee and Kate Taylor to Headline Legacy Show
On Sunday night, July 25th at The Strand in Hudson Falls, Peter Asher, Albert Lee, Kate Taylor, and Leland Sklar will all play together on the same stage in one joyous celebration of an eye-popping collective legacy of more than 200 years of playing with rock superstars who deserve their own chapters in the pop and rock history books.
Each has more than a half century in the music industry, and each has talents undiminished by age. To paraphrase a current cliché, If today’s 70 is yesterday’s 50, these musical giants are all in their seventh decade going on 21. Add to that, resumes that have so many threads of musical history that together they could weave a matriarch’s whole wardrobe.
While not advertised as such, this tour is built around Sister Kate’s 50th-anniversary album, Why Wait. Kate Taylor is the sister of James and Livingston Taylor. Her new album releasing next week is produced by Peter Asher who produced her first album Sister Kate back in 1971.
Asher of the British Invasion group Peter and Gordon has only a pinch of a British accent today. He moved to L.A. 50 years ago to manage and produce albums by Linda Ronstadt, the then fledgling artist James Taylor, and his sister Kate. He’s spent the intervening half century as a guitarist, singer, record producer, actor, and manager.
He has played on and/or produced albums by artists as disparate as Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Robin Williams, Randy Newman, Neil Diamond, Tony Joe White, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins, and posthumous releases by Buddy Holly. He was a record executive for The Beatles’ Apple Records, was senior vice president of Sony Records Entertainment and is credited with being pivotal in the development of the California sound.
The last time Peter Asher played The Strand I asked him if he thought Peter and Gordon would have made it out of the English coffee shops and onto the pop charts had the Beatles not opened the flood gates? “No idea. Impossible to know. I get an awful lot of what-ifs. What if John hadn’t died? What if this happened? I don’t know. When they signed us, they imagined us being folky. We might be Peter, Paul and Mary or the Kingston Trio as it were, a British version thereof. One of the songs they wanted us to record was our version of (Peter, Paul and Mary’s) “500 Miles.” Whether it would have made it or not in (any sense) a number one record? Probably not. Would we have had a career? Probably yes, I would say.”
I asked Kate Taylor in a phoned interview last week what was the best thing about being in such a lauded family, and what’s the worst?
“Uh, well, can you imagine these people being your siblings? They’re extraordinary human beings, every one of them. I’m grateful. I’m also grateful that I was their sister. If I hadn’t been in the family, I wouldn’t have known which one to fall in love with. They’re extraordinary people.
“My parents were extraordinary, too. We’ve had a very interesting life. We’re very close. Even these days when we don’t gather often, there’s a thread I feel that binds us together in a special way. I think I would have felt that way even if – the fact is, I have to share my brothers with the rest of the world. That may be one of the hard parts. I mean I can’t have them all to myself. There are other people who want them, too. And so, I have to share. That’s tough. It’s just been an extraordinary life. As Liv says, ‘We’re circus folks.’ There’s just this thing that draws us to music and to performing, doing what we do.”
Eric Clapton gave Albert Lee a guitar he played when he was in Cream, one of more than 40 guitars Albert Lee owns – he’s lost count. They include Don Everly’s Gibson J200 and the guitar Elvis Presley played in “King Creole,” G. I. Blues” and “Loving You.”
Albert Lee left home at 16 in 1960 and never looked back. He spent 24 years on the road with the Everly Brothers and 13 with Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. He’s played The Strand twice before where he proved himself to be a human jukebox with breathtaking skills in every style of rock and country, rockabilly and pop ballads.
The first time I saw him I had a seat at the back of the balcony at the Strand, but his delivery was so strong he projected to me as if I had a front row seat and he was playing directly to me. Guitarist Magazine calls him “the only Brit to be regarded as a bona fide legend of American country music.” His credits include Joe Cocker, Carlene Carter and he did three albums with Buddy Holly’s Crickets.
Bass player Leland Sklar has played with James Taylor Band, Phil Collins, among scores of others. his new book is called Everybody Loves Me. Also performing will be acoustic guitarist and vocalist Bill Cinque (Neil Diamond Band), vocalist Cara Lee (Bill Medley), drummer Steve Holley (Paul McCartney and Wings), and Jeff Alan Ross (ex-Badfinger) will step into featured roles as well, on keys-guitars-vocals.
I told Kate I couldn’t wait to see this show. “I know. It’s such an interesting combination of people,” she said gleefully. The Kate Taylor Why Wait! album features the same artists that are on this tour. Although it opens with The Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine,” it fits comfortably in the contemporary Americana mold. I told her that I thought her early work had more balls than all her brothers combined, but now she’s a little smoother.
This show is more than a gaggle of old friends. Back in the day, they would have called it a supergroup, but now it’s more like a supergroup to the fourth power.
Peter Asher and Company play a 7 p.m. show Sunday (July 25th) at the Strand Theater, 210 Main Street in Hudson Falls. Tickets are $40. Contact The Strand Theatre box office at 518-832-3484 or online at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5142970. The lineup stars Peter Asher, Albert Lee, Kate Taylor, and Leland Sklar and features Steve Holley, Bill Cinque, Cara Lee, and Jeff Alan Ross.