Local tribute celebrates Neil Young's music

Local tribute celebrates Neil Young's music

December 20th, 2012 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

Mike McDade leads Neil Young tribute band Old Man.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

* What: Old Man and Lazy Horse, a Neil Young tribute, with John and The Conners.

* When: 9:30 p.m. today, Dec. 20.

* Where: Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St.

* Admission: $7.

* Phone: 267-4644.

* Website: www.rhythm-brews.com.

SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

1968: "Neil Young"

1969: "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"

1970: "After the Gold Rush"

1972: "Harvest"

1974: "Time Fades Away"

1975: "Tonight's the Night," "Zuma"

1978: "Comes a Time"

1979: "Rust Never Sleeps"

1985: "Old Ways"

1989: "Freedom"

1990: "Ragged Glory"

1991: "Weld"

1992: "Harvest Moon"

1994: "Sleeps With Angels"

1996: "Dead Man"

2003: "Greendale"

2005: "Prairie Wind"

2006: "Live at Fillmore East"

2009: "Fork in the Road"

2012: "Psychedelic Pill"

In the seemingly never-ending train of music released by folk-rock legend Neil Young, Mike McDade hopped on in the early days, just behind the locomotive.

McDade, a local singer/songwriter, said the first rock song he learned to play on guitar was "The Needle and the Damage Done," Young's affecting song about heroin addiction on his seminal fourth album, "Harvest."

In a self-deprecating wink on his 50th birthday in 2007, McDade made a banner for his party bearing the moniker "Old Man," a nod to himself and to one of Young's best-known ballads, also on "Harvest." The title stuck and became the de facto name of his Neil Young tribute band, but he said he doesn't mind the association.

"Everyone loves 'Old Man.' That one grabs people's attention," he said. "People recognize Neil Young by that one. That's everyone's favorite song and mine as well."

Tonight, McDade will channel Young's diverse catalog at Rhythm & Brews. He'll be joined by Lazy Horse, a backing band composed of drummer Todd Garland, Strung Like a Horse bassist/vocalist BJ Hightower and guitarist Josh Bates, on loan from Long Gone Darlings.

The show, which will last between 90 and 120 minutes, will feature material drawn from about 20 years of Young's catalog, between 1972's "Harvest" and 1992's "Harvest Moon." Some of the artist's most recognizable songs were released during this period, including "Heart of Gold," "Rockin' in the Free World," "Hey Hey, My My" and "The Needle and the Damage Done."

McDade said the addition of Lazy Horse, a nod to Young's own band, Crazy Horse, offers him a chance to explore the heavier, beefier side of Young's career, which sprawled across a spectrum from light acoustic ballads to incendiary electric anthems.

"It's a pretty good fit. It's a really good sound," he said. "There's a lot of his material that I can't play if I don't have a band."

With about three hours of Young's material memorized, McDade said the hardest part about doing an Old Man show is deciding who to disappoint.

"There are so many songs people want to hear," he said, laughing.

Without bands like Old Man or his Drive-By Truckers tribute, Dirty South, McDade said fans might never get to hear their favorite classic songs in a live setting.

"The cover bands keep the older stuff alive by putting it out there for people to listen to it," he said

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP