In yesterday’s column I told you all about the backstage antics at the Neighborhood Ball in Washington, DC, with an exceptional concert featuring the music of Stevie Wonder.
Later, Sting headed over to the beautiful Harman Center Theater to do his third show in 24 hours as special guest for Sam "Soul Man" Moore. Full disclosure: I helped put these musicians together gratis, along with the very fine Elvis Costello.
What I didn’t know: that Costello and Moore would duet for the first time in 25 years on Moore’s Sam & Dave hit, "I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down." They did the early, slow version, and segued into the Costello rave up. It was brilliant, and breathtaking.
(Costello, by the way, had opened the evening with a 90 minute set of songs solo, just acoustic, picking cherries from his extensive catalog including "Shipbuilding," "What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding," "Alison," and "Pump it Up.")
Then Sting joined Moore for "None of Us Are Free," with the song’s writer Brenda Russell on background vocals. They did this duet on Moore’s "Overnight Sensational" album in 2006. The two singers then turned in an R&B energized gospel version of "Every Breath You Take" featuring Moore’s band with Ivan Bodley and the Uptown Horns. I can only hope it turns up on YouTube soon. There were many standing ovations all night, especially when Moore, Sting, and Costello joined forces on "Soul Man" and a tribute to Billy Preston, "You Are So Beautiful."
During the final number, Moore with friends on "Amazing Grace," the song and the moment were so moving that an African American female U.S. Army officer on stage, in her dress uniform, was moved to sobs. Actor Billy Baldwin, who was standing near her, comforted the officer until her husband got to her. It was very poignant.
The audience was in fact filled with stars who’d been junketed into Washington by the hard partying Creative Coalition. Among them: Matthew Modine, Dana Delany, Susan Sarandon, Gloria Reuben, Richard Schiff, Lawrence O’Donnell, Barry Levinson, Tamara Tunie, Connie Britton, Tim Daly, Tony Goldwyn, Marisa Tomei with actor boyfriend Logan Marshall Green and so on. It’s a good thing the tickets to this event were $5,000 and up: The group was put up at the tony St. Regis Hotel and had exclusive tickets to the swearing in.
Toward the very end of the show, Allman Brothers’ ace guitarist Warren Haynes, considered a rock god, showed up after his band played the MidAtlantic Ball, also at the Convention Center. "Sam Moore is my hero," he said, and two are planning to work together again soon.
Backstage, I ran into Fisher Stevens, who’s on his way back to Sundance today because his documentary, "The Cove," is getting rave reviews. Ben Silverman, NBC’s wunderkind programming chief, was also there to root on Sam, Elvis, and Sting, along with the latter’s glamorous wife, Trudie Styler, sporting a patriotic electric blue gown. Just to show her support for President Obama, Styler took time out earlier in the evening at the Neighborhood Ball to snap up over a thousand bucks’ worth of souvenirs for the couple’s six kids.
But it was Moore’s show that had the most relevance maybe of the whole Inaugural weekend. Back in the mid 60s, Sam & Dave used to tour the South raising money for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Mahalia Jackson and others. Moore is 73 and his voice has never sounded so vibrant. Like Bennett, he just keeps getting better and better. The audience felt it too. By the end of the show, half of their number were on the stage, trying to dance along. Very, very cool.