The late Lou Reed will be saluted by his peers tonight (March 14) with a special all-star concert at this year’s South By Southwest Music Conference & Festival.
Curated by former Bongos member and close Reed friend Richard Barone and Alejandro Escovedo, the show features a who’s-who of musicians and admirers playing Reed’s songs, including Sean Lennon, Spandau Ballet, Suzanne Vega, the Fleshtones, Garland Jeffreys, MC5 alumnus Wayne Kramer and others, with a house band that includes members of Blondie and the Patti Smith Group.
Barone told us that "This just seemed to be the right thing for me to do this time," especially since no large-scale tribute like this has taken place since Reed passed away last October 23.
“I've known Lou since 1977, 78, and since he passed it's somebody who I really miss,” Barone said. “He was somebody I was always in touch with. I always ran my stuff by him. He always heard it first. He was always supportive to artists and fellow musicians -- there were so many artists you could ask and they'd tell you about that. So this is going to be a very special event, I think."
Barone says the tribute is taking place with the "full blessing" of Reed's widow, Laurie Anderson, though she won't be attending. She did, however, provide images, many from Reed's personal archives, for the show, while longtime Reed friend and collaborator Hal Wilner served as "a great consultant" for Barone and Escovedo.
"We want this to be the experience of being in a room with people who like Lou Reed and his music," Barone says. "Alejandro and I are trying to create a kind of Austin meets New York street vibe with a lot of South By Southwest mixed in. We'll cover all aspects of Lou's music."
Barone says the show will be recorded and filmed, though there are no plans for a release yet. Reed was also the subject of a SXSW panel discussion, "Lou Reed: A Rock and Roll Heart" on Thursday, which featured Jeffreys, Kaye and former Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison, among others.
This isn’t the first time Reed has been saluted at South By Southwest; he delivered the conference’s keynote speech in 2008 and performed “Walk on the Wild Side” with Moby during a tribute concert held that year.