Paul Shaffer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band, with Valerie Simpson, at Ridgefield Playhouse
Most folks know Paul Shaffer for his renowned command of the band on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” where he met and performed with some of the world’s greatest musicians.
But Shaffer was in the business long before his “Letterman” gig, and he’s got the chops and stories to prove it. He’s worked with everyone from Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell”) to the late Gilda Radner (Broadway’s “Gilda Live!”). He even co-wrote the 1980s dance hit “It’s Raining Men.”
Fans will get a taste of what he’s all about Saturday, May 6, when he appears at the Ridgefield Playhouse with the World’s Most Dangerous Band. Joining them will be Shaffer’s good friend, vocalist Valerie Simpson, of Ashford and Simpson fame (“Solid,” “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”).
And speaking of good friends, Shaffer, 67, said he and Letterman “really do have a simpatico.” They talk all the time; after 33 years on the air together, the two are BFFs.
Shaffer said his plan for Saturday is to deliver a night of classic hits and music from his self-titled new album, which includes a version of “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” — “the classic piano instrumental from the ’60s.” He’s joined on that tune “by special guest Shaggy, who does his own Jamaican dance hall thing to it.”
The Westchester County, N.Y., resident shared more in a recent interview. He said the audience can expect a rock show, but with different genres, and that he’s played at the playhouse before, but never as the headliner.
“I go there a lot ... to see the marvelous performers, and very often I end up on stage with them. Recently Loretta Lynn brought me up and kept me there for quite a while, which was my honor, of course. She is a legend in country music.”
Shaffer said he looks forward to bringing his band there. “This is the band I played with all those years on the ‘Letterman’ show. I got them back together to make this album and tour. I also have the great Valerie Simpson as my special guest.”
Simpson and her late husband, Nick Ashford, wrote many Motown classics. “She’s a remarkable vocalist and pianist. She’s gonna come out and do a set in the middle of my set, backed by my band and me. I can hardly wait. She’s one of my idols.”
The late James Brown is another of his idols. Shaffer said Brown was “soaking wet” after singing on “Letterman” once, and asked Shaffer to visit as he sat under a hair dryer. “I’ll never forget kneeling down and how his Southern accent was so heavy, and then with the sound of the hair dryer, it was even harder to hear him. ...”
So what did Brown say? Shaffer will share that and more at his show.
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