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December 1, 2020

Chris DeGarmo Joins Lily Cornell Silver on Alice in Chains' 'Black Gives Way to Blue'

By Brian Heaton

It wasn't the solo performance fans may have hoped for, but an understated Chris DeGarmo was the perfect accompaniment for Lily Cornell Silver's musical debut at tonight's Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) 2020 Founders Award event honoring Alice in Chains.

The duo, with DeGarmo on acoustic guitar and Cornell Silver on piano and lead vocals, played “Black Gives Way to Blue,” the melancholy, yet uplifting title track from Alice in Chains' 2009 comeback album. Dressed simply, and avoiding looking up at the cameras, the former Queensryche guitarist played with just the right amount of touch and subtlety he's known for, allowing Cornell Silver to shine.

The song, which is about healing from tragedy, likely has special meaning for Cornell Silver, who lost her father, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, on May 18, 2017. Susan Silver, Lily's mother and ex-wife of the late Chris Cornell, introduced her daughter and DeGarmo with a touching story of a nine-year-old Lily calling up her “crazy uncle Jerry” Cantrell in 2009 to ask about the meaning of “Black Gives Way to Blue.” And now, 11 years later, Lily's “less crazy uncle,” DeGarmo, was there to perform the song the with her.

The moment of levity certainly helped balance the Founders Award show, which honored Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Inez and William Duvall from Alice in Chains, but also the late Layne Staley and Mike Starr, the band's original singer and bassist, respectively. The entire event was a classy production, filled with outstanding renditions of Alice in Chains songs from a wide array of musicians, trips down memory lane, tributes to Staley and Starr, and information on MoPOP's history and involvement in the community.

In addition to Cornell Silver and DeGarmo's performance, other moments of note included Dallas Green doing a solo acoustic version of “Rain When I Die,” Liv Warfield singing “Put You Down,” and Mastodon performing “Again.”

The full show is available on demand on MoPOP's YouTube page.

Chris DeGarmo, performing "Black Gives Way to Blue" at the 2020 MoPOP Founders Award Honoring Alice in Chains.
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