.VIDEO: San Jose Presents Nirvana 'Unplugged'

Looking back at the history of popular music, though myriad albums might truly be called milestones of innovation and artistry—from Sgt. Pepper to a Kid A—few live albums enjoy this distinction. Too often, live albums are used to fulfill contractual obligations, or serve as stand-ins for greatest hits compilations. Rarely do these albums succeed in capturing the power of the recorded performance or provide any real insight into the artists performing.
There are exceptions, of course. Bob Marley’s slowed down and blissed out take on “No Woman, No Cry”—which originally appeared on 1974’s Natty Dread—took on new life when the king of reggae stretched the song to 12 minutes on Bob Marley and The Wailers Live. The Talking heads changed the paradigm of what a live concert film could be with Stop Making Sense in 1984. And then there was the time that Johnny Cash played for a mess hall of convicts for At Folsom Prison.
“We want to pay tribute to these records that changed our lives,” says Chris Reed, a local musician, educator and co-founder of the music and event promotion company San Jose Presents. Over the weekend, Reed and a group of local musicians drew around 400 people to the recently opened Forager—located in the massive hall that was once home to South First Billiards—where they performed Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York, live and in its entirety.
Reed says he wanted to perform Nirvana’s 1994 album for personal reasons—namely that the record helped him get through a very trying period in his early life. But when he went to recruit fellow players, he discovered that he was not the only one who was deeply impacted by the album. All 17 musicians who played at the event told him that Unplugged had impacted them in profound ways as well. Listen to Reed talk about the event and the importance of Nirvana’s live album in the video—produced by Prestige Films—below. Also, check out pictures of the event by Taylor Jones.

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