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INTO THE NIGHT / BILL HIGGINS

Blues Chicks and Suede Fringe Done L.A. Style

March 25, 1994|BILL HIGGINS

The Scene: Rhythm, Country & Blues, a benefit concert at the Universal Amphitheater with a tented party afterward. The show springs from a similarly named fusion album that joins country and R&B singers in duets. "To me, R&B and country are just different versions of American soul music," said MCA Music chairman Al Teller, who conceived the idea. "This is the wellspring of some of the great music of the world."

Who Was There: Songwriter Bob Neuwirth described the audience as, "ropers, dopers and people who start work at 2 a.m." They didn't get invited to the party. From the show came Patti LaBelle, Ronnie Milsap, the Staple Singers, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, the Pointer Sisters, Marty Stuart and Sam Moore. Among the 1,000 guests were Bonnie Raitt, Byron Allen, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Charlie Sexton and MCA Music execs Richard Palmese, Bruce Hinton, Kathy Nelson and Tony Brown, who said the show made him realize, "R&B was built on rhythm and songs, while rap and hip-hop is built on attitude."

Subject of Discussion: Bob Dylan's performance. Even by Dylan standards this was one weird outing. Paired with Trisha Yearwood, he sang in a key all his own. She pretty much just watched. "There was no rapport," said Sam Moore, of the legendary R&B duo Sam and Dave. "He didn't reach out to Trisha, and I don't think he reached out to the audience. What was he there for? That's what I'd like to know."

Dress Mode: An awesome cultural gumbo that included serious cowboy hats, slick black suits, tight black dresses and suede fringe jackets. One woman described the mix as "major blues chick, country, Nashville finery and the L.A. version of all of the above."

Chow: A fear-no-cholesterol buffet from La Cuisine of fried chicken, chili, collard greens and ham hocks and macaroni and cheese.

Money Matters: Concert tickets were sold to the public for $18 and $32. Those who bought benefit tickets paid $100, $250 and $500. Proceeds will be split between the Country Music Foundation, a cultural research organization, and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which is housed in the Smithsonian Institution, and preserves R&B music and culture.

Quoted: "The reason they work together, country and rhythm and blues, is they're both people music," said Ronnie Milsap. "They both tell simple stories of everyday folks."

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