Trunkworthy.com and the benefit concert producers Wild Honey Foundation will present a live performance of the classic Big Star albums Third and #1 Record, performed in their entirety by an all-star lineup of musicians and guest vocalists. The event, a benefit for the Autism Think Tank, will take place Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 8 p.m., at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 4401 W. 8th St., Los Angeles
“In some ways, this rights a wrong that goes back four decades,” says Trunkworthy co-founder Gary Stewart. “L.A. never had a chance to hear the original band play these hugely influential albums on tour, so this is the next best thing.”
While the band may not be Big Star per se, the fabled group’s sole surviving original member, Jody Stephens, heads an all-star cast whose membership includes the likes of latter-day Big Star alumni Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of the Posies, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Let’s Active’s Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey of The dB’s, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, and others. They will be augmented by guest vocalists including the Bangles, Pete Yorn, Aimee Mann, members of the rising L.A. band Grouplove, Dan Wilson of Semisonic, Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham, actor/musician Jason Schwartzman, Jason Falkner, Tommy Keene, newcomers Brett Harris, Sarabeth Tucek, Django Haskins, and Skylar Gudasz, joined by a full chamber orchestra helmed by the Section Quartet, performing the original scores created directly from the original multitrack tapes from Ardent for this event.
Big Star’s third album, Third/Sister Lovers, has long been revered by artists and critics as one of the most influential albums ever produced. Written and recorded when the legendary 70s band was primarily a studio project consisting of Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, the third album was never been performed in public with the original string and wind orchestrations. That changed in December 2010, when an all-star band unearthed the original scores, assembled an orchestra and performed Big Star’s Third at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, N.C. Stamey notes: “Carl Marsh redid his original transcriptions, I wrote new orchestrations, we woodshedded the material individually for a year, and we got the original multitracks from John Fry.”
“What makes this special is that all the people performing this music were either associated with, or influenced by, Big Star,” says Trunkworthy.com.’s Stewart. “It’s both a concert and a homecoming.”
Much like Nick Drake, the Velvet Underground, or other critically esteemed artists whose work only gained commercial traction long after its initial release, Big Star’s trademark mix of shimmering jangle pop with a side of elliptical melancholia was originally let loose into a world that just wasn’t ready for it. Nonetheless, an underground core of fanatical enthusiasts kept the fire burning, and the Big Star sound burrowed its way into both impressionable young musicians’ ears and the very DNA of post-punk college rock itself.
“This benefit ties together two core strands of Trunkworthy’s mission,” says Stewart. “First, we’re aiming to be the nexus for the kind of passionate advocacy that launched Big Star from obscurity into gaining its rightful place as a revered pop culture icon, and second, we believe in giving back to the community, so pairing with the Wild Honey Foundation on this benefit concert made perfect sense.”
As with Wild Honey’s sold-out Revolver/Abbey Road show at the Wilshire Ebell, this event will benefit the Autism Think Tank. The non-profit organization brings together a team of top autism specialists to tackle the seemingly intractable and painful medical and psychological problems faced by children like Wild Honey co-organizer Paul Rock’s ten-year-old son Jake. Building on their success, the proceeds from this show will help the Think Tank relieve the suffering of even more kids like Jake.