Crosby, Stills & Nash to play fresh songs at Singapore show

Crosby, Stills & Nash will not just play tunes dating to the 1960s, but also their fresh songs

When American folk-rock icons Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) play their first gig in Singapore at the Star Theatre on Thursday, the audience will hear them play their best-known tunes, dating back to the 1960s.

But these are not veterans content to just rehash songs from back in the day. The three who make up the band - David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash - are still actively writing and recording new music. Fans here can look forward to hearing some of these at the concert.

Nash, 73, says in a telephone interview from Los Angeles: "I have to create something every day or else I can't sleep."

While known primarily for his music, whether it is with CSN, his equally esteemed former band The Hollies or as a solo act, the British singer- songwriter is also regarded for his photography.

"I have to go to sleep every night knowing that I tried my best every single day to do two things," he continues. "One, try to appreciate the universe and how fantastic it is, and two, to create something. I have to be creative every day."

He is so prolific that the reason he still records as a solo artist - he recently finished 20 new songs for an upcoming album - is that CSN cannot keep up. His American bandmates Crosby and Stills, like him, are also involved in many music projects.

"The only reason I do make solo records is that I write more songs than CSN records. But I do love to be in this band. David Crosby and Stephen Stills are brilliant musicians."

All three were already established and successful singers and musicians by the time they got together in 1968. Crosby had been with The Byrds, Stills with Buffalo Springfield and Nash with The Hollies.

The marriage of folk, pop and rock harmonies and socially conscious lyrics made their music an immediate success.

Their debut tour included a memorable slot in the legendary Woodstock festival in 1969. Soon after, they were joined by another folk-rock icon, Neil Young. They renamed themselves Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) whenever they played as a quartet. Young, who was also from Buffalo Springfield and is one of Canada's most influential singers and songwriters, would be in and out of the band for the next four decades.

Whether as a trio or quartet, the group are considered one of America's most successful and enduring bands, with all four inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as solo artists and with the group.

Through the decades, Nash has seen the music industry go through massive changes and laments the fact that it is now in "dire straits".

He adds that many artists like him saw it coming back when fans started going online to get their music fix.

"Many, many artists tried to tell record companies what was going to happen with the Internet, and with Napster and downloading, and they wouldn't listen. And look what happened."

Thanks to their lasting appeal though, the band have not only maintained their loyal following, they have also picked up new fans. Nash says that their audience these days comprise anyone from teenagers to his contemporaries.

"We have several generations of people coming to see us. That's one of those things that happen when you get to be as old as we are," he says.

Crosby is 73 while Stills is 70.

Nash says he is looking forward to what he says will be his first visit to Singapore. He will bring his camera along as well and will be looking to photograph "anything unusual" that catches his eye.

For the show, the audience can expect to hear signature tunes such as Suite: Judy Blue Eyes from their eponymous 1969 debut album as well as Our House from the following year's Deja Vu.

"We know that one of the reasons people pay good money and hard-earned money to go see us are the songs that we've written in the last 40 to 45 years. So we have the responsibility to give our audience as much value as possible."

The fans will also get to hear the music as they are meant to be heard, with as few distractions as possible, he adds.

"It seems like lately that you need enormous stage shows and many dancers and flashing lights and smoke and mirrors, but I don't think that makes the music any better. It makes for an interesting show, but I like real, live music."

dinohadi@sph.com.sg