A Rock Legend in Lund

by Henrik Tofft

From the Swedish newspaper Skånskan, May 7, 2008. Translated from Swedish by Jan Høiberg, proof reading by Peter Viney and Carole Klinger. Text and photo copyright © 2008 skånskan.se, please do not copy or redistribute.

Music legend and member of The Band, Garth Hudson, gave, together with his wife Maud Hudson, the Lund audience samples from from his rich repertoire. Photo by Ulf Johansson.

Music legend Garth Hudson is now an old and stooped man with a gravel voice. But his piano fingers have not aged. The capacity crowd at Lund's university aula got living proof of that Tuesday night.

For several years, the Student's Union has been fighting to lure Garth Hudson, one of the front figures in classic rock group The Band, into visiting Lund.

He arrived on Tuesday. Slightly delayed, around 7:30 pm, dressed in jeans, black leather jacket and a dark cowboy hat, the 70-year old Canadian with the big white beard calmly entered the stage. Up there, a keyboard, a grand piano, an accordion and a blackboard waited for the musical genius.

The event ("Studentafton", i.e. "Students Evening") was entitled "Music According to Garth." After two quick appetizers on the electric piano, Hudson, who has played with practically every great musician from the second half of the 20th century, started lecturing in his slow voice about who inspired him when was listening to music on the radio as a kid in Ontario, Canada. Clifford Scott was among those mentioned, and one of three names written on the blackboard in upper case (the two others were Allan Fried and Big Al Sears).

"He was magnificent. Every new refrain was like turning a new page in a book," Garth Hudson said, almost like he was talking to himself.

After having praised several of rock 'n' roll's forefathers in the same way, Hudson suddenly stopped himself and looked out into the audience:

"Any questions?"

As expected, one of the questions was about The Band. How did the group write their songs? Hudson said that he often would react to something or try to make fun of things: "I frequently came up with something more abstract than rhymes."

He still enjoys the tunes the group wrote way-back-when, in the '60s: "Those songs are the results of good work."

After a short round of questions, Garth Hudson's wife Maud Hudson entered the stage. It was time for a concert to end the evening. And the old man with the slow voice was transformed into a forceful piano player and, in one case, even an accordion artist.

Maud Hudson, beautifully dressed in hat and gloves, completed the music with her razor-sharp voice. Together, the couple treated us to a varied and changing set. As the audience showed their respect and appreciation with long applauses after each song, the Hudsons discussed what to offer us next.

Around 9:30, Maud Hudson asked her husband to round off the evening himself. A solo on the electric piano followed, ending with a powerful and unexpected rendition of the Mendelssohn wedding march.

Standing ovations followed the musical legend as he left the aula: "Thank you, this is one of the good days."

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