Crosby, Stills and Nash
8 p.m. July 31 at PNC Pavilion, Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. $39, $56, $76. Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
It's one of those fabled remarks, seemingly intended as an aside when it was made, that later became an artistic moment of record.
It arrived in the midst of Crosby, Stills and Nash's post-midnight set at Woodstock. That's when Stephen Stills remarked on exactly how scared the trio was when faced with a crowd that had swelled to 500,000.
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I would love to quote Stills' words directly here, but it wasn't exactly a G-rated comment. Considering, as well, that Woodstock was CSN's second public performance as a group, you can imagine the sense of stage fright.
That the trio performs in Cincinnati on Friday night, just two weeks ahead of Woodstock's 40th anniversary, is somewhat serendipitous timing. But another anniversary eclipses even that of the mighty festival this summer — that of CSN itself.
Born from the splinters and, in some cases, wreckage of three landmark '60s bands, CSN — David Crosby (from The Byrds), Stills (from the self-destructed Buffalo Springfield) and Graham Nash (The Hollies) — released its debut album, Crosby, Stills and Nash, in May 1969. With its sterling hippie harmonies and equal measures of activism, pop romanticism and psychedelia, it became an instant hit.
The popularity of CSN would ebb and flow throughout the '70s with almost as much frequency as the trio's various breakups and re-formations. Sometimes Neil Young, Stills' former bandmate in Buffalo Springfield, would join in. He played with CSN for about half of its Woodstock set and a subsequent tour before helping to cut the debut CSNY album, 1970's Déjà Vu. The recording yielded a hit electric reworking of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock, an account of the previous summer's gathering.
CSNY remained popular enough to play stadiums during a high-profile 1974 tour, but its artistic fortunes dwindled as the '80s and '90s set in.
The quartet reunited in 2006 to play primarily new music from Young's heavily political album Living With War (the tour was chronicled on the documentary film CSNY/Déjà Vu). But this summer belongs to Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Friday's Cincinnati performance undoubtedly will be heavy on CSN staples that were new when they were played in the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning at Woodstock (Suite: Judy Blues Eyes, Guinnevere, Wooden Ships and more), but the trio is devoting time to tunes (The Grateful Dead's Uncle John's Band, The Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday) from an all-covers album that it is recording with all-star producer/pop career revivalist Rick Rubin.
Those fascinated by the CSN/Woodstock connection should also note that Wooden Ships, originally from the album Crosby, Stills & Nash, is featured on the soundtrack to the new comedy film Taking Woodstock by Oscar winner Ang Lee. Plus, on Aug. 18, Rhino Records, which has issued excellent box-set collections highlighting the careers of Crosby (Voyage) and Nash (Reflections), will release Woodstock: 40 Years On, a six-CD set of performances from the festival, including a half-dozen CSN (and, in some cases, Y) songs.