This Saturday (July 30th), New York City’s Lincoln Center will play host to an all-day celebration of the life and works of Lou Reed. Taking its name from the title track of Reed’s 1979 LP, The Bells was curated by Reed’s widow, artist Laurie Anderson, and his longtime producing partner Hal Wilner. Amazingly, the program only came together earlier this week.
“There was a blank page, six days before [the show],” Willner explained in an interview with the Guardian. “It’s an exciting thing because you get these moments that you probably wouldn’t get if something was rehearsed to death. The combination with something that’s kind of made up on the spot, I find that to be really exciting.”
The Bells: A Daylong Celebration of Lou Reed is bookended by the late musician’s own works. At 11:30 a.m., a band featuring Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley will play a rock ‘n’ roll set with guests David Johansen of the New York Dolls, Lenny Kaye, Joan As Police Woman, JG Thirlwell, Jon Spencer, and the Bush Tetras. Later in the evening, at 7:30pm, a collection of Reed’s love songs will be performed by ANOHNI, Mark Kozelek, Laurie Anderson, Bill Lasswell, John Zorn, and Garland Jeffreys, along with other surprise guests. Additionally, Willem Dafoe, Steve Buscemi, Julian Schnabel, and Elizabeth Ashley will be reading Reed’s lyrics.
In addition to the music program, master Ren Guang Yi, Reed’s teacher, will open the day with a tai chi lesson, followed by an afternoon demonstration of tai chi chuan weaponry techniques. Film screenings will take place throughout the afternoon, with the whole evening culminating in a screening of Schnabel’s documentary film Berlin about Reed’s 2006 revival of the eponymous album. There will also be a sound installation called Lou Reed: Drones, a five-hour “dronscape” built from the sounds of Reed’s guitars and amplifiers put through a loop of feedback. Surprises are also anticipated with more unannounced guests.
“It’s going to be an amazing day,” Anderson told the Guardian. “It’s a gigantic puzzle, with all the new things we’re going to add to the mix. People just hear about it and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in town, can I play?’ We’ll never say no to that.”
The Bells: A Daylong Celebration is going down Saturday, July 30th, all around Lincoln Center as part of the venue’s Out of Doors Festival. The event is free to attend and you can find more information here.