Celebrating George Harrison at Mercury Lounge
This Sunday, Mercury Lounge is putting on a birthday celebration for my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. He may have been known as “the quiet one” to the young teen girls of the 60’s, but Harrison was really the driving force for many of the Beatles’ most memorable songs, like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Taxman” and “Here Comes The Sun.”
A largely introspective, spiritual person with an insatiable appetite for knowledge and new experiences, he is credited with guiding the group towards eastern music and mysticism, which would have a huge impact on their subsequent albums. Harrison, of course, was much more than one of four Beatles, and went on to experience success as both a solo artist, collaborator and an inspiration for countless musicians through multiple decades.
Harrison became close friends with famed sitar player Ravi Shankar, and teamed up with Shankar in 1971 to put on the all-star “Concert For Bangladesh,” which became a model for future celebrity charity events.
Not to say that Harrison was wholly serious, as he was well known for his dagger-pointed jokes, even going so far as to create a film production company to back the filming of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” simply because he wanted to see the movie.
He remained relevant during the 80’s with some short, poppy singles like the unforgettable “Got My Mind Set on You.” But in forming the Traveling Wilburys in 1988, you really got the sense that Harrison truly relaxed and had the most fun of his illustrious career. The group was made up of Harrison and fellow luminaries Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. Together they created a signature barn-stomping jam sound that weaved together gravelly harmonies with rhythm & blues guitar riffs.
A humble artist who transcended the pitfalls of fame and the pigeonholing of the entertainment industry, George Harrison is certainly deserving of the Mercury’s birthday celebration in his honor.
There is an excellent line-up set for Sunday show. Veteran rock n’ roller Alan Merrill cut his teeth in Greenwich Village, but saw most of his success come in the ’70s as a transplant artist in Japan. He wrote and recorded his most memorable song, ‘I Love Rock N Roll,’ in ‘75. It would eventually be re-recorded by Joan Jett, go on to help launch MTV and become one of the top barroom sing-a-longs of our generation.
Sean Yox & The Streamers follow Merrill’s lead with a heavy hammer garage sound that seems tailor made for the old-school stage at the Mercury.
Coming from Australia originally, Kath Buckell offers up a more folk driven set. Compared to the likes of Joan Baez and Judy Collins, Buckell’s songs are built with story telling in mind.
With a decidedly darker sound, Brooklyn via Nashville rock outfit The Fear and Trembling round out the night with songs more reminiscent of Afghan Whigs than George Harrison, but by that point in the night, you’ll have had several beers and will just wanna rock out.
The George Harrison Birthday Celebration: Sunday, Feb. 26 | 7pm at Mercury Lounge
$10//217 E. Houston St.
Splitting his time between performing and producing, contributor Ken Beasley primarily plays with his own roots/rock band, Ken Beasley & Co., as well as the power punk outfit, Missy Sport, while also curating the Underground at the Abrons music series on the Lower East Side.