Legendary performer Stills set to embark on tour, put out new album

Stephen Stills wants to write the anthem for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Stephen Stills wants to write the anthem for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The legendary singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known for his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the newly-reunited Buffalo Springfield and his solo material, is also well-known for his liberal activism. So it’s only natural for Stills to want to comment on the current political situation. In January, he’s planning to begin work on a new solo studio album, his first since 2005’s “Man Alive!”

“I’ve got a couple of songs that I’ve had tucked in my back pocket for a while that are ready to explode, and we’ll see if they work,” Stills said recently from his home in California. “Plus I have a lot of new inspiration to work on — I mean, the Occupy Wall Street movement needs an anthem. I think I’ll call it ‘The Fog of More’ — ‘Here you are, lost in the fog of more.’ ”

Stills said he is “very proud” to see Occupy Wall Street protesters taking bankers to task for the country’s current economic woes. But don’t get him started on the other end of the political spectrum — the conservative Tea Party movement.

“Those guys resemble — all they want to do is, not paying taxes and destroying government is the way to go, and they won’t be responsible,” Stills said, audibly angered. “It’s a weird idea, this mad notion, that a great Christian doesn’t help anyone that can’t help themselves.”

Having a good time

Politics isn’t necessarily the main thrust of Stills’ music these days, however. “I get sick of listening to us preach, too,” he said. “It gets a little over the top, too, when it’s based on a foundation of, maybe not, maybe so, maybe not.”

On Sunday, Stills will embark on his first tour of the Northeast with his solo band in about three years — the show heads to The Egg Tuesday night. And that will be all about having a good time.

“We’ll laugh at ourselves, laugh at life,” Stills said. “Hopefully we keep the prices down so it doesn’t hurt.”

The four-piece band, featuring Stills on guitar and longtime contributors Joe Vitale on drums, Kenny Passarelli on bass and Todd Caldwell on keyboards, is the same group that appears on Stills’ 2009 live double CD, “Live at Shepherd’s Bush.” These shows will end up looking something similar to that set, which featured both acoustic and electric songs drawing from all of Stills’ many projects, including such classic cuts as “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Rock & Roll Woman” and “Love the One You’re With.”

“They [the band] know everything; we can sort of go through the computer and decide what we’re going to do that night,” Stills said. “And we get to visit and talk to the audience — mainly ’cause Cros isn’t there, I get to talk. Nash, both of them, they just have something for every show. I find myself thinking of something, and — ‘blah-blah-blah’ — they’re gone.”

The solo tour ended up being something of a last-minute venture. In October of 2010, Buffalo Springfield’s surviving members — Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay — reunited to play Young’s 24th annual Bridge School Benefit. The band ended up playing six shows this summer, but Young ended up putting the brakes on the reunion. The three are planning to tour again next year, but it’s all in Young’s hands, according to Stills.

“You gotta ask Neil,” Stills said. “He’s off tinkering in his shop, trying to invent the next big thing and writing a book about himself — you can probably imagine how that news went down. We’ll get back to it when we do, because it was really good, really fresh and just really, really nice.”

CSN tour ahead

Crosby, Stills and Nash (Young is only an occasional member) will also be gearing up for more touring next summer. After three solid years of touring between 2007 and 2010, Stills ended up with a flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome, and decided to stay home for most of the summer of 2010 to also help tend to his youngest child, who was sick. But Stills is now looking forward to getting back to that as well.

“That’s just joyful, a pleasure, and by that time I’ll have been away from the guys for just long enough,” Stills said. “It’s just like putting on your favorite coat.”

But a new solo record will come first. Along with political material, much of his current songwriting has been focused on family. Stills, 66, is a father of seven, with a teenager and a child at home.

“A lot of it would have to do with relationships today, personal occurrences keeping a marriage going, keeping it healthy and thriving,” he said. “I’ve got a 15-year-old, so I get to look through the eyes of yet another teenager.”

During his time off from CSN, Stills was able to bond with his youngest son.

“I’m very, very, very glad I did it — me and my little one are just solid,” Stills said. “He learned basketball, and we were throwing the ball around and shooting hoops — not that I’m any good at shooting hoops. I’d like to get him into tennis before I get too old to move the ball. I’m getting kind of creaky.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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