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Willie NIle at the Magic Bag, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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It's been a long road for Willie Nile -- not always easy, but with results that justify any effort and struggles.

The Buffalo native (born Robert Noonan) is a consummate New York songwriter -- pointed, pithy, uncompromising and unapologetic. His work over a dozen studio albums, starting in 1980 and including last year's "Children of Paradise," has been critically lauded as literate and provocative. And, of course, hard-rocking.

Nile, 71, has a wealth of peer admirers, including Bruce Springsteen, who's joined him on stage, and Bob Dylan, whose songs Nile covered on 2017's "Positively Bob" album. He was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2005, while his "One Guitar" was named Best Social Action Song in 2013 by the AIM Independent Music Awards. And Nile doesn't expect the hard work to stop any time soon...

Nile says by phone that "I don't set out to make statements," but the tenor of the times inspired much of the "Children of Paradise" album. "In this particular case there's so much going on in the world. It's important stuff and the songs just came out. I think whether it's the climate or politics or human suffering, these are days of a lot of pain and suffering. It's visible on TV 25 hours a day. So the songs just came to me as they did."

But Nile doesn't intend Children Of Paradise to be all foreboding social commentary. "For me it's a way of fighting back against the negativity. Music can be healing and redemptive. In so many ways these are such dark days on the planet -- they needn't be, but they certainly are. The album's heartfelt for sure. It's pissed off at times. It's in love at times but it's on fire, and at the end of the day I wanted the music to be inspiring. I wanted it to pick me up, and pick whoever is listening up. That's the thing I like most about rock 'n' roll -- it's got power and promise. It can make you feel better."

In keeping with that, the tone of Nile's shows is also positive and uplifting. "I refuse to let these people -- the politicians, the talking heads, the commentators -- kill my buzz. Life is too precious and too short to let those things get you down. I'll fight that to my last breath. I really will. And I think people are good. whatever political party anyone's in -- left-right, in-between, upside down -- there are good people everywhere. It's just hard to make clear decisions when there's so much disagreement about what's going on. If everybody knew clearly what's going on then we could have some productive discussions and not just yell at each other like we're doing now. I'm gonna do my part to fight and stay strong and try to bring people together, not drive them apart."

Willie Nile and Brad Ray perform Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors at 8 p.m. $20. 248-544-1991 or themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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