Next Stage Arts presents Walter Parks and Big Lazy – The Vermont Journal & The Shopper

Walter Parks and the Unlawful Assembly. Photo provided

PUTNEY, Vt. – Next Stage Arts presents a double bill featuring the reimagined historic spirituals and hymns of Walter Parks & The Unlawful Assembly, and the “guitar noir”/”crime jazz” of Big Lazy, on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m., at Next Stage Arts, 15 Kimball Hill in Putney.

“Two masters of American roots music coming to Next Stage,” says Keith Marks, executive director of Next Stage. “Walter’s work with Richie Havens has informed a lot of his career, and he has become an educator on the history of blues, roots, and Americana. The pairing with Big Lazy is an evening of music that won’t be easily forgotten.”

The Unlawful Assembly reimagines and tributes historic spirituals and hymns which universally inspire, empower, and unite. Leader, guitarist, and singer Walter Parks, longtime sideman to Woodstock legend Richie Havens, is joined by featured artists drummer and producer Steven Williams, and Ada Dyer, who is currently touring worldwide with Bruce Springsteen, on vocals.

In one live-concert experience, The Unlawful Assembly entertains and informs while successfully melding roots music of divergent origins. The soundtrack to American black history – old-school spirituals, gospel, blues, and prison work chants intertwine with swamp hollers, shaped-note hymns, and Appalachian reels of white homesteader origin.

Big Lazy. Photo provided

Parks’ native northeast Florida swampy feel borrows from southern rock, jazz, early 70s soul, and a few gospel interpretations that rest joyfully upon a foundation of modern electronic loops.

Reimagined covers and traditionals include: “Wade In The Water,” “Follow The Drinking Gourd,” “Down By The Riverside,” “Steal Away,” “Old Blind Barnabas,” “Amazing Grace,” “Higher Ground,” and “Early In The Mornin’.” Walter contributes “Georgia Rice,” and a co-write with Stan Lynch of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on “Shoulder It.”

New York City’s gritty instrumental trio Big Lazy has flourished for over 20 years, creating film music and playing its singular brand of “guitar noir,” or “crime jazz,” from the Whitney Museum of American Art to the Opéra National de Lyon. The band is known for its cinematic music and legendary live performances. With sparse instrumentation – band leader Stephen Ulrich plays electric guitar, Andrew Hall on acoustic bass, and Yuval Lion on drums – the trio forges a new American music from archetypes in blues, jazz, surf, Latin, and rockabilly. The band’s current lineup also features arranger, composer, and keyboardist Marlysse Simmons of the bands Bio Ritmo and Miramar.

Stephen Ulrich released his first solo album “Music from This American Life” on Barbès Records earlier this year. The album is a collection of 10 pieces Ulrich was commissioned to write for Ira Glass’ iconic radio program of the same name. At once shadowy and optimistic, Ulrich’s music weaves a melodic and textural foundation through many “This American Life” episodes.

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