Willie Nile Brings Life to Church Street

Willie Nile and his band, with special guest Joe D'Urso, rock the Outpost Jersey-style to ring in the new year.

Willie Nile spices things up.

Although Outpost in the Burbs shows normally host folk music acts, this night’s set was indeed folkish, albeit with a serious rock-and-roll twist. It was greatly inspired by the likes of Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Enter Joe D’Urso, whose lyrics and music greatly reminisce the old Jersey Shore. One of the numbers he delivered, entitled “Come Down With Me Tonight,” also known as “a love letter to Asbury Park.”

A man is playing electric guitar
© Tomasz Sokołowski | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Even before he started performing, he expressed how happy he was to be at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at his very first Outpost show.  He kept the rock-and-roll spirit alive by taking the titular and literal “Rock-and-Roll Call.” He mentions rock luminaries including, but not limited to, Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and others. He also half-jokingly said that the song was about someone who knew absolutely nothing about rock-and-roll. It was not until after I heard the song that I thought it would be impossible to know nothing about it. Elements of it are basically present in each type of music, whether listeners and performers alike realize it or not.

Some other songs he brought forth were “Sway” and “Don’t Lament.” The latter of which D’Urso aims to assure that mortality is not necessarily the end and no matter how much a deceased loved one is missed, the survivor can keep the memories and do the healthy thing by moving on with life. Once he finished his set, he further expressed that the best and warmest congregation is one where there is a room full of people and music. He is right.

For those who attended that show and would like to see him again, a list of shows in New York and New Jersey can be found online at jdcaravan.com.

The nearly sold-out crowd, young and older alike, started cheering and dancing as soon as Willie Nile and his band hit the stage, even before they began to perform. Willie Nile expressed happiness and excitement to be there. He proved it all the way as he and his band gave it all they had to keep everyone dancing, cheering, clapping and singing along throughout.

Some songs Willie Nile performed were “This is Our Time,” “Life on Bleecker Street” and “The Innocent Ones.” After those three numbers, he proved that there is definitely more to rock-and-roll than just hard vocals and guitars, as he slowed things down a bit with “Yet My Heart,” which is from his most recent album, American Ride.

Willie Nile later gave an anecdote about the very first record he bought by the Everly Brothers. He performed a cover of their famous song “Bye Bye Love.” He then told the audience that he loved coming to play at the Unitarian because it felt like a family there. That is the way it was meant to feel to begin with.

Starting back up with “Sunrise in New York City,” Willie Nile half-jokingly said that he was really a piano player and “doesn’t play the guitar very much.” He plays just as well on piano as he does on guitar because of the hard work and love he puts into his music. Besides his true love for NYC and the surrounding areas, he is also very proud of his Irish ancestry as shown in “The Crossing,” which he wrote for the film Gangs of New York. Of course, Willie Nile’s show would have not been complete without the title track from his new album, as nearly everyone sang along, especially when he paid homage to the Jersey Shore in the song’s lyrics.

Coming next to the Outpost is Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams on Jan. 18. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale now starting at $25.

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