CHRIS WHITLEY CELEBRATION,
SAT. FEB. 11 AT THE WINDHAM IN BELLOWS FALLS, VT
A celebration of the life and music of Chris Whitley will take place at the Windham
in Bellows Falls, VT on Saturday, February 11. Known for his haunted vocals,
propulsive National guitar and poetic songcraft, Whitley died in late November in
Texas at age 45.
Chris Whitley has a special connection to Rockingham and Bellows Falls; he spent his
teenage years with his mother, brother Daniel and sister Bridget in a cabin on a
dirt road in the back hills of Rockingham. It’s where he first picked up a guitar.
And it is where he returned in the late nineties to record one of his most enduring
cds, the gorgeously stark and somber DIRT FLOOR.
“Lots of people have been asking me about doing a small, grass roots musical get
together up there,” says Dan Whitley,? Chris Whitley’s younger brother who also
contributed guitar to several of Chris’s CD’s. “It might turn out to be not so
little.” The Dan Whitley Band, a supple power trio, will anchor the evening event,
with guest turns from close Whitley friend, former New York songwriter Melissa
Sheehan and Ingrid’s Ruse, the fast-rising area folk-rock trio that includes Ezra
Veitch (for whom Whitley baby-sat a few times). Other friends may be announced.
There will also be a display of photographs of Chris Whitley, courtesy of Chris
Nofziger, the noted lensman who shot the DIRT FLOOR cover and many other pictures of
Whitley throughout his career.
During the afternoon, there will be an open mic where fans wishing to share music
influenced or by Chris Whitley will be encouraged to play. The open mic is hosted by
Jesse Peters, the popular Rockingham guitarist and songwriter.
“When Chris died, there was a massive outpouring of love and support,” says Dan
Whitley. “There hasn’t yet been an occasion where friends – whether or not they knew
Chris personally – can come together and celebrate the amazing spirit of my brother
and his music. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Although Chris Whitley never achieved mass fame, his passing has resonated
throughout the music community and garnered coverage on TIME, the New York Times,
NPR and press throughout the world. His albums LIVING WITH THE LAW and DIRT FLOOR
are regarded as classics, and passionate advocates abound for any of his dozen or so
other releases, from the psychedelic DIN OF ECSTASY to the electronica of ROCKET
HOUSE to the dark, jazzy minimalism of HOTEL VAST HORIZON.? Bruce Springsteen, Iggy
Pop and Keith Richards all count themselves admires of Whitley’s music. Dave
Matthews has said, “I feel more passion for his music than I do for my own. I have a
fervent, religious devotion to the magic that Chris Whitley makes.”
Large-scale big-city ‘tribute’ concerts slated for the next year are in the talking
stages, but that isn’t the aim of the Vermont shows. Charlie Hunter, whose Flying
Under Radar Concerts is helping promote the event, says, “When Chris was up here
last summer, he was talking about wishing he could just give the music away to
people. He was incredibly generous of spirit; this event is not about celebrity.
It’s about celebration.”
And as Dan Whitley says, “My brother was all about life and living, and we want
anybody who felt touched by him or his music to come and be welcome.”
Bellows Falls is located on I-91, a half-hour north of the Massachusetts border, 4
hours from New York, two and a half hours from Boston. There is daily Amtrak and
Vermont Transit bus service to New York. Tickets for the 7:30 pm evening concert and
3:00 pm afternoon Open Mic are on sale at Village Square Books and Bulls Eye Music
in Bellows Falls, and on line at www.virtuous.com. All proceeds above expenses will
go to the Whitley family. Persons desiring more information should visit?www.flyingundertheradar.com?or call 802-463-3669.