I'm afraid my offer of an extra Nick Lowe ticket, yielded a resounding "Who?"
You do know his stuff, whether you know you know it or not.
The show was bracketed by versions of "What's So Funny About Peace, Love, & Understanding". Bill Kirchen kicked it off solo acoustic. And the finale was everybody... probably 50 musicians belting it out.
In between there was a lot of good music, some flubs to be sure, but it was all fun. Folks were surprised by the Tone Rangers, an all male a-cappella band. The Thrillbillies really turned the first set up a notch with their version of "Switch Board Susan". Bill Kirchen was everywhere; not surprising since he has played and recorded with Nick. His version of "Heart" bordered on Reggae. And played one of his regular's "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock & Roll" with Rico Petrucelli singing.
I was particularly impressed with "Half a Boy and Half a Man"; it started as an acoustic duet of Billy Coulter on guitar and Jon Carroll on accordion) It eventually blew out into a full electric band, including 3 piece horn section. But I thought the duet was extraordinarily powerful and there is potential for an excellent Zydeco cover here.
It was truly inspired to pair Martha Hull with Ratso and backed by members of the old Tex Rabinowitz's Bad Boys. They hit the aggressive punk stuff hard. Martha came out walking with a cane. Before long she'd thrown it away, pushed off the mic stand, and was boogieing hard, playing lyrics of "Heart of the City" off Ratso, a perfect foil.
Another surprise was Cal Everett, formerly with the band Four Out of Five Doctors. He got a couple of Nick's big hits, "So It Goes" and "Cruel to be Kind". For the former he had a vocal tone that precisely matched the record, it was stunning. He looked like a young Peter Noone up there.
There were other great performances by Ruthie & the Wranglers, Eric Brace, the Rhodes Tavern Troubadours, Cravin' Dogs, Tommy Lepson, the Grandsons, and many others... with a lot of guests sitting in adding instrumentation, backing vocals, keyboards, and the like.
This tribute was put on by the same folks who've been doing the ones at Strathmore for the past couple years. They shot video of this show; so expect a DVD sometime down the line. They had the Nils Lofgren tribute DVD out for this show... some three years later.
P.S. Check out Nick Lowe's sold out solo Birchmere concert on NPR's site from the last time he came through town: NPR Music: Distinguished Crooner Nick Lowe, in Solo Concert