Malibu’s New Old Band carries on the tradition of legendary Lenny Goldsmith

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Lenny Goldsmith has been performing in public since he was five years old in a career that has taken from the smallest clubs to the largest arenas in the country. Contributed Photo

By Barbara Burke

Of The Malibu Times

“When all 12 members of the New Old band kick off the summer music series at Trancas on May 24, they’ll be doing it for the first time without their legendary band leader, Lenny Goldsmith.” said Johnny “Guitar” Watkin, who has been playing with Goldsmith for almost 20 years.

Goldsmith has been performing in public since he was five years old in a career that has taken from the smallest clubs to the largest arenas in the country.

“He’s played with everyone from Harry Nilsson to Tower of Power with an irrepressible energy and an unmistakable voice,” Watkin said. “It’s like a cross between Ray Charles and James Brown with a little bit of Robert Plant thrown in for good measure.”

Watkins explained that approximately 20 years ago, Goldsmith noticed some confusing changes with his body. 

“His speech became less clear, his walking seemed more labored, and his balance began to deteriorate.” Watkin shared. “He decided to start performing on a stool, although it didn’t seem to affect his performances — he was exactly the same.”

Goldsmith, Watkin jovially added, “would still be barking out instructions and chord changes from his stool and we were just expected to follow as always!”

Doctors were mystified with Goldsmith’s medical condition. 

“It had elements of Parkinson’s, but there were some things that were different going on.” said Goldsmith’s family friend and physician, Dr. Suzanne Donovan.  

Finally, late last year, Goldsmith received a diagnosis — he is suffering from Shy Drager Syndrome, also known as MSA, a rare disorder that affects the nervous system.  With his typical resilience, Goldsmith wrote a song about it called, “Until I’m Not.”

At the end of last summer, the band announced its concert, closing out the 2023 Summer series at Trancas, would be the final show with Goldsmith at the microphone.

“It was an incredible night!” local musician Andy Jackson said. “Lenny was at the top of his game, and people were kind of dancing and crying at the same time.”

Watkin shared his sentiments about the first Summer concert: “It will be a little strange being there at Trancas without Lenny — but we’re bringing in some amazing guest vocalists to take over, including Michelle Wolf, a top session and recording artist for the last 25 years, and Daniel Paige, who is a local musician and protege of Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger.”

Pausing to reflect, Watkin added, “Lenny will be with us during that concert in spirit — his influence is all over these songs.”

The New Old takes the stage at Trancas Lawn on Friday, May 24, starting at 6 p.m. 

The event will not be held at Trancas Country Market, read updated article here: “And the band plays on! The New Old will launch the summer concert series at Dreamland on May 24…not on Trancas Lawn as contemplated”