I get a stupid grin whenever I hear a pedal steel guitar being play well.
In the last two weeks, I’ve seen Johnny Winter and Hank III in concert. Johnny Winter, the albino Texas blues guitarist, was fun, but he’s in declining health and did not put on the best of shows. He could still rock, and he soloed quite well, but he often got tripped up in some of his riffs. Sitting for the whole show can make it difficult for the musician to sell excitement, so his band had to work overtime setting the pace and attitude. His bass player, Scott Spray, was amazing. It’s rare to see a bass player that can solo well in blues music without sounding like a technical-jackass. His solos and the flourishes he added to the show were excellent, and complimented Johnny. Scott also came across as the guy running the show – he seemed to keep time, manage the ailing guitarist, and was just generally all over the place. I went with my dad, whose Johnny Winter albums I’ve been listening to for several years. It was one of those “once in your life” type concerts, and it looks like we made it just in time.
Last night, coworkers Max, Alan and I all went to see Hank III and Ass Jack. I kidded Alan who was still in work clothes before we left that he’d be the only person in a polo shirt, but after the opening act, a relatively normal group of people filled the crowd. It was a bit strange seeing punk, rock, and country music fans all in the same place, but it worked, and everyone enjoyed it. I’ve listened to Straight to Hell a couple of times, but upon seeing the band live, I started to think that maybe the rebel country thing may be a bit contrived. The upright bass player looked like Animal from the muppets, and all the musicians were really good. Like nearly top-of-their-game Nashville good. They had nice equipment, and Hank rocked a set of acoustic and electric Guild guitars.
Towards the end of the set, the genre shifted from country to punk, and it was good. Seeing a fiddle player thrashing with punk music was cool, especially as strands from his bow would snap and hang from the bow. The pedal steel guitar player was also great and sounded really cool in second set. Really a great show – partly because of the strange demographic. I’m glad Max and Alan dragged me to it.