Arlen Roth and the Cordobas at Times Square
Type: Music & Concerts
Within the international guitar community, Arlen Roth’s name is uttered in the hushed, reverent tones reserved for the true greats — six-string legends like Jeff Beck, Ry Cooder and the late Danny Gatton. Even the renowned acoustic fingerpicker Paul Simon once took lessons from Roth to sharpen his skills on the instrument. No wonder Vintage Guitar magazine ranked him as one of the Top 100 Influential Guitarists of the Century. But outside of that clued-in sector of the populace, Roth has remained under the radar throughout the majority of his 35-year career.
The New York native’s new Toolin’ Around Woodstock — Featuring Levon Helm, on Roth’s own Aquinnah label, just may bring him the wider recognition he has long deserved. Rather than an all-star super-session like its celebrated antecedent, 1993’s Toolin’ Around, which featured appearances by Gatton, Duane Eddy, Albert Lee and other renowned players, the new work focuses on a close-knit unit anchored by the great drummer and vocalist whose name is fittingly referenced in the album title. Bassist and Roth regular Paul Ossola fills out the rhythm section, with Matt Rae on rhythm guitar and Brian Mitchell on keyboards. Slide wizard Sonny Landreth and former Commander Cody mainstay Bill Kirchen guest on two tracks apiece. The album also has a generational aspect, as Arlen’s daughter Lexie and Levon’s daughter Amy add their voices to several tracks. Playing in the moment, Roth and his campadres recapture the collegial spirit that distinguished the landmark albums of Woodstock’s golden age.