Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Joan Baez & more performed at Lampedusa Refugee Benefit at Town Hall (pics)
The Lampedusa Refugee Benefit Concert tour, featuring Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Joan Baez, Buddy Miller, The Milk Carton Kids and special vaudeville guest act Nancy and Beth (comprised of Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt), passed through Town Hall in New York on Tuesday night (10/18). All the performers sat on the stage at the same time, one by one taking lead of the group — a non-competitive round robin style show.
The two-plus hour event was organized by Harris to support the Jesuit Refugee Service and takes its name from an island off the coast of Sicily through which many refugees and migrants may pass through enroute to Europe. Harris said hadn’t visited Lampedusa but she had been to two refugee camps in Ethiopia. She spoke of the nearly 65 million refugees, or otherwise displaced/migrant people around the world, which amounted to nearly the population of the United Kingdom.
Plant avoided the spotlight by avoiding Led Zeppelin songs, though he did speak of the Milk Carton Kids coming to him in their pajamas to hear tales about the Misty Mountains and hobbits. As Radio.com wrote, “For his part, Plant mostly backed the others by playing a small hand drum with a metal brush. It was a small contribution to the songs that was somehow extraordinary: the singer of one of the most popular rock bands of all time, a guy who could headline Madison Square Garden just a few blocks south, on his own was doing hand percussion… because he wanted to contribute to the tour.”
Nancy and Beth also made the Milk Carton Kids the subject of a joke. Mullally suggested the duo were the Kids’ mail order brides, right after the Kids played “Charlie,” a song for Kenneth Pattengale’s imminent baby, though he first has to have a mother picked out. Nancy and Beth performed a funny and weird act they considered vaudeville and said their first song “100,000 Women Can’t be Wrong” was Trump’s new anthem.
The Milk Carton Kids were the youngest talents on stage but they held their own against the legends to their side and often made the audience laugh as well. Pattengale and the other kid Joey Ryan joked about that few people cover Harris’s songs given they have so many words — five pages of lyrics were on the floor for their cover of “Michelangelo”.
The night’s special guest was Joan Baez who joined everyone on stage for the last three songs. Baez greeted Harris warmly before launching into Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee”. Baez also spoke on the issue of immigration, “My father was a immigrant from Mexico… and he invented the X-ray microscope! It’s not about people who are taking from us, they’re bringing us their gifts!” With her message practically begging people to consider the positives in people, Baez (and Harris, Plant et al.) are turning the politically fraught issue of immigration into a humanitarian one on the Lampedusa tour.
Check out pictures from the concert above and setlist and videos below.
Partial Setlist (Indicates lead artist first though any or all may have contributed)
Steve Earle “You’re the Best Lover That I Ever Had”
Emmylou Harris “Making Believe” (Kitty Wells)
Robert Plant “Don’t” (Elvis Presley)
Buddy Miller “Shelter Me”
Milk Carton Kids “By the Stars”
Earle “Copperhead Road”
Harris “Love Hurts” (Everly Brothers)
Plant “Nothin” (Townes Van Zandt)
Miller “Gasoline and Matches”
Milk Carton Kids “Charlie”
Nancy and Beth “100,000 Women Can’t be Wrong” [+ one more]
Harris “Darlin’ Kate”
Milk Carton Kids “Michaelangelo” (Emmylou Harris)
Earle “City of Immigrants”
Plant “Little Maggie”
Miller “Wide River to Cross”
Milk Carton Kids “The City of Our Lady”
Joan Baez “Deportee” (Woody Guthrie)
Baez “God is God”