Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hot Doggin' with Deke

It was good rockin' on a rainy Tuesday night at the Narrows!

California rockabilly guitar cat Deke Dickerson and his group cruised in with their high octane rhythms and riffs.

Local heroes the Cobra-Matics set the roots rockin' stage with a kickin' opening set.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

RIP Kenny Edwards

Very sad to note the passing of Narrows alum Kenny Edwards, founder of the Stone Poneys ("Different Drum" was a hit for them in the late 1960s with Linda Ronstadt at the vocals), musical associate of Linda Rondstadt during her prolific 1970s period, and longtime musical associate of Narrows alum Karla Bonoff as well as Andrew Gold ("Thank You For Being a Friend").

The LA Times reports he was suffering from cancer and a blood disorder. He collapsed in Denver while on tour with Karla, the paper reported, and hospitalized, dying Wednesday in California.

I know the crew at the Narrows who worked with him liked him and enjoyed working with him. A great talent and fine gentleman.

Karla Bonoff posted this message on her website, marking his passing: "I want to thank him for being my teacher, my musical partner and my best friend for the last forty-three years." Linda Ronstadt called him a "beacon to me" in an extensive remembrance of Kenny in an LA Times blog. To see that remembrance, click here.

For all of the entries about Kenny I've blogged, please click here.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Retro's Reality

I Learned the Hard Way--Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings--When is retro a retread? With a number of retro acts on the scene, it's worth exploring. Hmm. One of the more over-the-top retros is the Chesterfield Kings, sounding like the Rolling Stones. I've got their Psychedelic Sunrise CD, and I like it, although it's "name the riff" when I listen. ("Doesn't that part sound like 'Ruby Tuesday?'") The group that invented retro in the rock era--if such a claim could be made--was the Flamin' Groovies. They're fun, although to these ears they covered songs that didn't need it--like "Kicks," and, with all due respect, "Tallahassee Lassie."

There are others. And then there's Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who just played the Newport Folk Festival. A friend who saw them said he didn't care if they sounded like old Motown--what's original these days anyway? His bottom line: he likes 'em.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' I Learned the Hard Way, recorded, like in the olden days, on an Ampex 8-track tape machine according to the group's website, does sound like Diana Ross and the Supremes and maybe the Superfly soundtrack. But--and here's the important point to me--it's not an imitation. This is not a tribute group; rather, these musicians are embracing a sound, a niche, yes, a gimmick, that works for them. Sharon Jones is a talented, soulful singer who gets it done. The instrumentalists--clever and cool! The songs: as far as I can tell they're all of recent vintage, mostly written by the listed performers.

Deep in my heart--I can't help myself here--I believe the world would be a better place if the music of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (and blue-eyed soul singer/guitarist James Hunter, too) was blasting out of radio stations targeting the younger set, and their iPods and smartphones.

Friday, August 06, 2010

T Bone Fixes Willie's Guitar (and Voice)

Country Music-Willie Nelson-Is it me, or is Willie Nelson's trademark guitar sound grating? And his voice--man, I don't ever again want to hear him sing "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," or "Always on My Mind." Enough with "On the Road Again." And that "Baby It's Cold Outside" duet with Norah Jones is, to me, offensive. Stop it, I say. You've gone karaoke! You're an outlaw, for goodness sake.

That said, Mr. Nelson's new one, aptly titled Country Music, produced by roots tastemaker T Bone Burnett, is about perfect. The songs are country classics, so that helps. Gotta like "A Satisfied Mind" no matter who records it. But T Bone mixes Willie's distinctive singing and guitar in a way that complements the other instruments, instead of dominating them. Narrows alum Jim Lauderdale does a lot of harmonizing, which perhaps takes away the boring karaoke edge I've noticed in some of Willie's stuff.

In short: Country Music is the Willie Nelson album for non-Willie Nelson fans, few we may be.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


A couple from Rhode Island's South County said they came to the show because they hear her on WUMB radio, and think she sounds like Dusty Springfield.

Understandable, since Shelby Lynne (left) did a tribute to the iconic Springfield a couple years back called Just a Little Lovin' that included Dusty classics "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "Wishin' and Hopin'."

Another couple, this time from across the Taunton River from the Narrows, Somerset, MA, attended because she has a unique sound, a great voice.

It was clear and strong Thursday night at the Narrows, as Ms. Lynne made her 2nd visit, this time in support of her new recording Tears, Lies and Alibis.

Last time she had a band, and longer hair too. J. Geils' Peter Wolf was in the audience--we think because he was working with her on his CD Midnight Souvenirs, or recruiting her to appear on it (she's on the first track, "Tragedy"). This time she simplified her approach as she trimmed her tresses. No tour bus; no drummer; no bass; no Peter Wolf; just one side player, guitarist John Jackson, who worked with Bob Dylan for 6 years. A good choice, you think? And of course Shelby on guitar. She's not afraid to strum.

A quiet performance overall, though not laid back, as she's too intense for mellow. She set aside her guitar to do an intimate, pleading reading of Dusty's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," from A Little Lovin'. If a pin dropped it would have sounded like a bowling ball.

Some news she announced: She and her sister, alt country's Allison Moorer, will tour together later this year. Can we bring the sisters to the Narrows?

Watch this space.