Willie Nile (Photo courtesy Madison House)
Midway through his set at The Hamilton Live recently, Willie Nile sat down and performed “The Crossing.” The song appears on the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York. As Willie explained, it’s “about the Irish crossing the ocean.”
When he was writing, he was “thinking about my own relatives” who came over from the Emerald Isle, settling in Buffalo, where he we would eventually grow up one of eight kids in a Catholic family. That Willie’s song would be chosen by Scorsese, who is known for making strong picks in rock tracks to set the mood for his movies, isn’t surprising: while he has he achieved limited commercial success, Nile is a critical darling who’s been at the center of the New York music scene for 50 years.
Willie Nile (Photo by Cristina Arrigoni)
Willie Nile is a New York City-based singer-songwriter whose recording career span reaches back to 1980. He’s hard to place in an a precise genre, as his influences range from Bob Dylan to Lou Reed, and he’s also covered The Clash. He’s a rock ‘n’ roller who, even into his 70s, is still the same guy who wasn’t afraid to fight the record companies in a legal case that set a precedent.
But he’s also a trained pianist who can just as easily do a ballad as he might just rock out. His work finds a great balance between raw musculature and cerebral refinement, managing to thread in literary and cultural references without pretension. It’s rock with brains — it sounds great, and there’s steak to go with the sizzle.
Willie released a new album, The Day the Earth Stood Still, last year, and now he’s on tour. Willie and his band perform at DC’s The Hamilton Live on Friday, July 8, and Parklife DC’s Mark Engleson talked to him in advance of that show.
Willie Nile (Photos by Cristina Arrigoni)
Willie Nile is a man all about New York City, his longtime home. The man about town was in the process of releasing an album about New York City, titled New York at Night, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world and put things on hold.
In May 2020, Willie released that album. Not long before he did so, he chatted with Parklife DC’s Mark Engleson. Now, Willie is back with another album about the place he loves to live — The Day the Earth Stood Still, his 14th studio album, which was released on Aug. 13.
Willie is on tour again with a stop at The Hamilton Live in DC on Saturday, Aug. 28. But Parklife has been sitting on this unpublished interview from when Willie was promoting New York at Night. And in this interview, Willie chats about how much he also loves DC. So with no further ado, we present this chat and strongly suggest you catch Willie live at The Hamilton this weekend.
Willie Nile (Photo by Christina Arrigoni)
Some musicians find their desire to make art stifled. Following a contract dispute with his original record label, Willie Nile spent a couple decades working, as he said, “a day job.” But Willie, who comes from a family of musicians — his uncles worked in vaudeville — never gave up on his dreams. He kept writing songs, and would occasionally perform on the East Coast and in Europe.
Willie Nile performs at The Hamilton Live on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath/Instagram+Twitter: Insomnigraphic/GrillworksBen)
Willie Nile bridges the chasm that lies between Bob Dylan and The Clash. He ties intelligent, literate lyrics to frenetic melodies and crashing rhythms. Talk to Willie, and the F-bomb may pop out of his craggy face. Willie turns 71 in June, and he’s still active and creative — maybe more than ever. His creativity was on display at The Hamilton Live recently.
Willie Nile performs at the 100 Club in London on Nov. 19, 2013. (Photo by markheybo)
Veteran rocker Willie Nile and his band played Vienna’s Jammin Java on Friday on the heels of Thanksgiving. Spirits were already high after the holiday, and Willie and the boys put on a energetic show, filled with new songs and old favorites. Willie may be 70, but he remains youthful and energetic on stage, still brimming with rock ’n’ roll swagger, and he moves like a man half his age.
Willie Nile (Photo by Christina Arrigoni)
Willie Nile released Children of Paradise, his 12th studio album, this summer, and he’s bringing the new music to Jammin’ Java on Friday, Nov. 23.