A weeklong celebration of balls and Inaugural Galas started at the National Building Museum Sunday night with the “Absolutely Unofficial Blue Jeans Bash,” hosted by Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.
The much-ballyhooed party feted the campaign staffs of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, as well as the Arkansas Travelers, a group of Arkansans who traversed the country helping their native son land the nation’s highest office.
House band was the Band, with native Arkansan Levon Helm leading Garth Hudson , Rick Danko, Ronnie Hawkins and Vassar Clements through “Rag Mama Rag” and “The Weight.”
Clarence Clemmons took the stage and remarked, “A sax player in the White House? I love it!” as he launched into a King Curtis tune.
Underneath dramatic 100-foot pillars–amid ice sculptures of Arkansas Razorbacks–Faye Dunaway, Woody Harrelson, Steve Guttenberg and Kimberly Foster (“Dallas”) feasted on catfish, hush puppies and candied yams.
Foster, like most at the party a native of Arkansas, has known Clinton a lifetime as her parents were early supporters of the former governor.
Dr. John took over a second set of keys for “Iko, Iko,” as backstage surprise guest Bob Dylan opined that he thought the Quincy Jones spectacular at the Lincoln Memorial went “pretty good.”
Johnson commandeered a guitar and joined Stephen Stills for versions of “Slow Down” and “Stormy Monday,” as Allman Brother Dickey Betts traded blues licks with fiddler Vassar Clements.
Even though the Secret Service arrivedto tell guests in the hospitality suite they’d have to disappear if and when the president-elect arrived, unbilled sit-ins by the sax-playing president and his brother, Roger, who was going to sing with the Cate Bros. Band, didn’t occur.
Ironic moment of the evening went to Stephen Stills performing “For What It’s Worth,” a song written about a riot on Sunset Strip over 25 years ago, whose generation has now officially taken the reigns of power in Washington.
To cap it off, Dylan took the stage in blue jeans and cowboy hat for a laconic “To Be Alone With You,” a more energetic “Keys to the Highway” and an elegiac “I Shall Be Released.”