This is our Time: A Night at Mexicali Live with Willie Nile

Willie Nile
For a musician who draws so much inspiration from the hard-edged New York punk scene, Willie Nile is a gentle soul.  You can hear it all over his lyrics--"One Guitar"--a pacifist anthem about the power of music, for example.  Or in "The Innocent Ones," a song that bursts with empathy for the vulnerable and powerless.  But Willie's music brings an edge of punk intensity to balance out his big-hearted idealism.  That's true on his new album, American Ride, and even more true live, when Willie and his band--bassist Johnny Pisano, guitarist Matt Hogan, and drummer Alex Alexander--never fail to play their hearts out.  

Matt Hogan
Andre and I have seen Willie and his band live before, but never as headliners, and we've always been left wanting more.  This year on my birthday that wish came true.

We traveled to Mexicali Live in Teaneck, New Jersey:

 for dinner and tales of concert-going misadventures with some warm and welcoming Nileaholics:

And then, of course, there was the show itself, as high energy and full of great new material and beloved old standbys as we could have hoped.  Matt Hogan is a marvel, and nobody defies gravity like Johnny Pisano.

Johnny Pi
And as an added birthday bonus, after the show we got to hang with the band.  Johnny Pisano, known to his devoted fans as Johnny Pi, happens to be a longtime friend of my cousin, actor/musician Michael Jeremiah, and he welcomed us with stories of the old days in the neighborhood and on the road.  (For a brief time, Johnny played in Michael's band XDavis.)  

And I got the chance to add to my collection of Selfies With The Stars:

With Johnny
(Okay...not technically selfies, since Andre took them.  Maybe I should rename this series Spousies with the Stars?)

Willie and me
If you don't know Willie's music, you should.  Here's a taste from the new album:


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