Quote of the Day:
“I’m a rompin’, stompin’, piano playing son of a bitch. A mean son of a bitch.” —Jerry Lee Lewis
A few observations and some grainy iphone snapshots of TB’s Saturday at Tom Lee Park in Memphis, Tennessee, attending the Beale Street Music Festival……
We saw Paul Thorn of Tupelo first. I’ve blogged about him before. The guy has a good act–doesn’t blow you away, but the songs are solid and he’s got good stage presence and a decent stable of jokes.
After Thorn we had time to catch about thirty minutes of The New Pornographers at a different stage before we had to go stake out a place for Mumford and Sons, the band we were mainly looking forward to seeing. The Pornographers have been around awhile, and I’ve heard some of their stuff on XM, but I am not really familiar with them. They were great in concert though and I wish we could have seen more. It’s a sort of old school college rock sound (and when I say college rock I mean from my era ’88-95) but with really good musicians and a lot of harmonies. Hated to leave them early, but it was a good thing we did because we got a good spot for Mumford, et al, and I got to see a true Rock and Roll Hall of Famer for the first time, plus, enjoy the day’s bloggin’ highlight.
Jerry Lee Lewis’ old decrepit ass was on stage and the mean old man can still tickle the ivories, I must say. His voice is still strong as hell too, even if he can’t move the body too much. What was funny about Jerry Lee was, well, that he’s a mean old man. The folks were batting around a beach ball, in typical festival-fashion, and ol’ Jerry didn’t cotton to that. Not a-tall. He stopped playing in the middle of a song and carefully, slowly turned his ancient head to eyeball the young whippersnappers in his midst–mostly a bunch of punkass fifty somethings gathered up close to the stage where the ball was frollickin’. “I din’t come here ta……see no bawllllll gittin’ toss’d aroun,” he growled. He looked over the throng as the ball continued to bounce, givin’ out the stink-eye to any and all who dared face him. “If one-a-y’all don’t catch that bawll and put it down, I’m stoppin’ the show.” Somebody grabbed the ball but Jerry didn’t let it go quite yet. He glared out, hopin’ maybe somebody wanted to fight I guess. “And stay the hell off my lawn!” Ok, I made that last line up, but I really think he had something like that on the tip of his tongue.
Satisfied with himself, Jerry returned to wailin’ away on the piano, and I gotta say, seeing the octogenarian Jerry Lee do “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin‘” was not bad. Not bad a-tall. The man is a legend for a reason.
We also got to see John Mellencamp and Lucinda Williams. Lucinda was ok. She had the lyrics to her own songs in front of her which was really strange. And it was a little on the mellow side for an evening slot, but it was cool to see her live. She’s got some sultry pipes and I like her. Mellencamp is going grizzled. His new stuff is pretty good. Very different from the 80’s anthems, but good. It’s just not what most of us want to hear at his shows. Fortunately, he still does most of the old hits and “Pink Houses” was a lot of fun.
As I said, we were there to see Mumford and Sons. Let me put it this way–we got our money’s worth. RSR has been tuned in to them for a long time and I hear them on XM a lot and we’ve got some of their album on the ipod. I like their stuff and I liked them even more after seeing their Grammy performance. But man, after seeing the live show, count me as an official fan. Those guys are up there having fun. You don’t feel like you’re being suckered by a band who can’t believe you are paying to hear them go through the motions. Not a-tall. They are smiling and making eye contact with people and singin’ at the top of their lungs. They all play multiple instruments–it may be the only band I’ve ever seen where no one starts the show on the drums, but during it the lead man takes over for a song, the bass player does a couple and a fill-in even has to jump in for a tune or two. I can’t recall seeing a show where a band plays unreleased songs from it’s next album and the crowd reaction is almost as good for them as it is for the established hits. And most of all, man those guys play the hell out of their instruments. Fast. Loud. Long. When you are watching a Mumford and Sons show you feel Good. Everyone around you feels good. There sound is nothing alike, but it reminds me of how you feel at a Cowboy Mouth show. If they come around, you need to see them.
This Saturday–free tickets to Jazz Fest. Tune in here for a full report.
“Hippies? Why, I’m the original.” –Jerry Lee Lewis, who if he ever gives TB the stink-eye in person, I’ll take him on. I ain’t scared of no 80 some year old SOB. Not sayin’ I could beat him, understand, but you can’t go backin’ down to a bunch’a damn 80 year olds, right?