Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Feasting On Zombies With Niece Shredder
A few Mondays ago I had my first taste of being a feeble old man in the tender loving care of a kind relative. In a good way. My beloved Niece Shredder (pictured above) who got a teaching job straight out of the starting gate at the very Junior High that I went to when I was limber and full of hope and my neuroses were fresh - visions of goitered booted nuns still dancing in my head. Needless to say, Boom! she's already making way more than her beatnik uncle with his high falutin' popsicle stand.
(Dave Cousins, vocalist and guitarist with Dave Lambert, guitarist and vocalist, of the acoustic Strawbs)
Shiva, Kali, Buddha, Jesus and John Astin's Gomez have blessed me with three amazing and talented and sensitive and smart nieces and one amazing and talented and smart nephew who just needs to stop chopping all the sleeves off his muthafuckin' t-shirts! They are all huge scholars and music lovers, but Tina is perhaps the specialist of the bunch. Her love is not widespread among all the Delta bluesmen and/or country pickers and/or whatnot, but focused like a government top secret laser on one or two groups or solo acts at a time.
For many many long and fertile years of her childhood and tweens and early teens she plowed diligently the fab field of Beatlemania. Histories were read, posters sprouted. Then, there was a natural progression or expansion to Beatle contemporaries The Zombies! Who doesn't love the dang Zombies??!! That's some smooth catchy smoky soul stuff being laid down with funky organ and slinky guitar work. And to her aged uncle's surprise she somehow branched out to creaky crunchy Tom Waits (it was from a high school experience in a reverb drenched hallway during a theater project). Currently, and she can be forgiven for this, for she is a kind and gentle person, she is stuck on Eddie Vedder like an elf on a rainbow. A very cool outgrowth of this unreasonable Vedder passion is she has now bought herself a very groovy "Sea Foam" color ukulele and is strumming up a fierce wake of jubilant sound.
At any rate, all that being said, said Niece Shredder pounced on some Zombie tickets at The Annapolis Rams Head the second she heard they were on sale. Luckily her beau was not going to be in town and is not that big of a Zombie fan, so her aged uncle got to escort her to the show and share a table that was directly pushed up against the front center of the stage. A view so intimate that I felt like if I stared any more deeply into Herr Blunstone's eyes one of us would have to make the first move.
But speaking of passion for all things vintage and especially originating from the '60s, Niece Shredder has a very cool blog wherein she writes of vintage clothing and her highly skilled sewing excursions: http://decadedisplacement.blogspot.com/
(ABOVE: Dave Lambert, who possesses one of the most intense faces I've seen in real life. Kind of as if John Hurt experienced perhaps twice the pain and developed maybe a half dozen more folds. It made for powerful expression when he sang.)
A sweet bonus of this show in addition to the venue being very intimate and friendly (not one hassle while we were in there and the waitress didn't seem to care at all that we were both teetotallers ((perhaps glad to see a few folks under 60??? Not that I am much under that or to be ageist about the crowd)) was the opening act -- The Strawbs. I had heard a few songs by them over the years, but this was before Pentangle and Trees and Bert Jansch had helped me pierce the veil of British vocal rusticism.
A good deal of the songs seemed to come from "From the Witchwood", which we just happened to have at Normal's and which is now playing on my car stereo. Strong songwriting mixing in British history and olde folk with sitar and occasional funky organ flourishes. On stage this night it was just three acoustic guitarists, but man Dave Lambert, the gent above who looked like he was weeping when he sang, could really play. Did some very nice bird sounds also with his strings and without effects pedals. Also, having heard "From the Witchwood" about three times now since the show, I have to say that Dave Cousins' voice has really remained strong. Or at least remained at a high level. I mean, he's not Van Morrison or Colin Blunstone, but his voice serves well his tales of working underclass English folk.
We also got lucky and shared our small table with an older Annapolis deejay named Charlie and his wife. Charlie has been around the music world for a long time and really knew his shit on the blues and folk. Heard many fine stories of him meeting old blues greats. Since he and his wife live near the venue they have caught quite a few of the shows there, including two I would have loved to have caught - Kris Kristofferson and Marianne Faithful. Which made me think of Leonard Cohen! Man, if he were to play this small intimate club I would give up an entire paycheck for sure. I gave passing thought to catching him when he was at Merriweather a few years ago, but the evil "legal" ticket scalpers who aren't Ticketmaster, but actually are Ticketmaster, had driven the price up to around $100 for a crummy lawn seat where you might as well be at a cricket match.
But I am not just hung up on the Eldritch Ones! I was soon to catch Jeff Mangum with opening band Hawk and the Hacksaw, but more on that in a later post......
But the smoky smooth sweet melodic blast of the night we were anticipating began when the Zombies themselves (with "new" guitarist and drummer) took the stage slipping right into "I Love You". Immediately I was awash in my Niece Shredder's voluminous flow of drool and I realized that my grin had knocked my glasses off my ears.
Now I am very picky about my reunion shows. I held out for many years with a purist record until the Gang of Four reunited with their first drummer! The ho who left them for the simpering band ABC. The Gang of Four sounded just as fresh a few years ago as they did in my drunken fairly angry and confused twenties. They were clearly loving what they were doing and having a great time and I did not regret revisiting them live.
The same can definitely be said of seeing the Zombies with three of their original members. Colin Blunstone's ethereal voice is still 95% percent right there and the music with its strong dose of soul influence really holds up.
The fairly touching part of the night was that Rod Argent kept selling the band their history to the audience as if we weren't already aware of their significance and tastiness. He told us how many indie and alternative bands over the last few decades have named "Odyssey and Oracle" as one of their all time favorite and most influential lps and instructed us on all their offshoot groups and hits. Part of this might be that somehow the group is not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Which seems pretty ridiculous. Isn't Weird Al Yankovic in there now even???
The one "ouch" of the night was when they did "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll To You", which I think was an Argent song that Kiss had a giant bloated cash-filled pus explosion with. But with charming Senor Blunstone singing it looking like an androgynous slim granny it was kind of fun.
I really enjoyed their cover of Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" Colin knocked that one out of the ballpark. Pictured above is Sir Argent of the Bounteous Wig.
The gent above is Jim Rodford and he can strike a timeless austere pose. This badass cat also played with The Kinks! So you know he knows his way around an addictive hook and a hotel room full of plush madness.
There is a new Der Sting album out. On the cover The Man Who Wears Down Mirrors Almost As Fast As Phil Collins is standing with his back toward us (if we were to look at his greatness head on our eyes would flash out instantaneously into smoking black holes!) knee deep in a lake. I guess he is looking for where his private helicopter dropped Excalibur. At any rate, I want to see this pugnacious Rodford fellow doff his breeches and hit that fucking water like the pitbull after Josh Brolin in "No Country For Old Men". Then the back cover of Sting's album could be Rodford's head completely spattered red in a frothy red lake, nothing of Sting to be seen except the remaining splinter of the neck of his teal colored Ovation acoustic guitar floating a few feet away.
We speak now of Zombies, though, and the '60s and love. Above is Colin Blunstone with the guitarist Tom Toomey. Sadly the lights have come on. Announcing the end of the magic night and revealing that at the peak of Niece Shredder's ecstasy during the set, when they played "Can't Nobody Love You", which she wants played at her wedding, she had lost control and put her shrimp fork through both eyes of Charlie's wife, her last whimpering cries for help smothered by the comforting aural blanket of Zombie sounds.