A beautiful evening of music took place at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock on April 27th with the legendary folk-rock band Aztec Two-Step. Over the course of two sets of music, Rex Fowler and Neal Schulman had the intimate crowd in the palm of their hands. The night took place in the lounge of the Bearsville Theater rather than the big room, making the evening even more special by being physically very close to the performers.
Between sets Rex and Neal hung out by the merchandise stand and chatted with everyone who wanted to. It was a wonderfully laid back Saturday night show. As soon as Rex and Neal took the stage, the appreciative crowd gave them a huge ovation. Both men are very good story tellers and jokesters and showed it very early on. All night they had funny stories ranging from origins of songs to stories about other musicians to a lovely tribute to Richie Havens. Another great thing about the show was that they had no written set list and discussed which song to do next in front of everyone, which of course led to more jokes.
The relaxed feeling of the show made everything all the better. Rex and Neal have a great bond on stage. Their harmonies are still perfect after being together for 42 years and their guitar work is excellent. Neal can really handle a guitar. Some of his solos through the evening were jaw dropping. Both musicians moved from folk to rock to blues to country easily showing that their music is full of variety and that they have something for everyone.
A first set highlight was “The Ballad of Humpty Dumpty and Cinderella” which saw the audience participate in the chorus after an invitation from Rex and Neal to help them out, easily making for a highlight of the evening. The set continued with Neal saying “You know some bands have lists up here, and we don’t blame them” as the audience laughed seeing that Rex and Neal weren’t sure what they would open up with. Early on in the set they stated how all acoustic duo acts owe their livelihood to The Everly Brothers and they did a great cover of “Walk Right Back.” Following that, Neal and Rex went right into “Tonight I Wish I Was in Texas” which was a clear highlight with great harmonies. They ended set one with “The Persecution & Restoration of Dean Moriarty (On The Road)” and it was a perfect set closer. The song is a tribute to the novel by Jack Kerouac and it does the book justice. Some of second set highlights were “Killing Me”, “Highway Song”, and “Johnny’s an Angel”. The last one is a tribute written for John Lennon a week after he was killed in 1980.
All three of these songs were excellent and received well by the small crowd at Bearsville. After finishing the set, Neal and Rex briefly went to the side of the stage and then came back, joking with the crowd they didn’t know if it was a well-deserved encore or they were just coming back to come back. They were obviously joking as they were getting a huge ovation from the fans in attendance. With a two song encore of “Whiskey Man” and “Prisoner”, they ended on a high note, receiving a standing ovation from the entire crowd at the end of the second song. It was a great evening of folk rock and if you have a chance, be sure to see these two great musicians for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of music.
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