Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Stompin' At The Ponderosa Stomp
A Nick Tosches tome come to life, The Ponderosa Stomp is a two-day event that pays tribute to the unsung heroes of rock and roll. 45's with cool labels and obscure b-sides that you thought only YOU knew, performed live on stage by the artists that seemed to disappear minutes after recording the tunes, the "Stomp" has become a well-oiled machine and the party of the year.
Last night at the House Of Blues, I witnessed powerful sets on two stages by Dale Hawkins with guitar legend James Burton, the reunion of Boston's grungey Beatles, The Remains, 83 year old Lil Greenwood (who once shared the stage with Duke Ellington), and my favorite set of the evening, Otis Clay backed by the original Hi Rhythm Section, featuring "Teenie" Hodges.
I had been looking forward to The Remains set for months, and while it was fun to see the guys together, the mood changed for me the minute they debuted a "new song." That kinda misses the point of the Stomp, doesn't it? Almost every act I have ever seen at the Ponderosa Stomp seemed to be having the time of their lives, enjoying the fame that may have eluded them in their prime. But Barry Tashian, leader of The Remains, seemed to be taking himself too seriously. This was not his show, but a showcase for all involved. I don't think that attitude went unnoticed, as the crowd started thinning out about 4 songs in.
Dale Hawkins, still rocking after a round of chemotherapy, simply tore the place up. Flanked by Deke Dickerson and James Burton on guitars, the smile on Hawkins' face was enough to light up the entire French Quarter.
But it was the tight Memphis soul of the Hi Rhythm section who backed Otis Clay that really killed me. On songs like "A Nickel & A Nail" and Al Green's "Love & Happiness," Clay's voice was as powerful as ever, and the band magically created the sound that made so many of those great soul singles so legendary.
Tonight The Flamin'Groovies return for the first time in years, as well as Dan Penn, ? & The Mysterians, Wanda Jackson, Bobby Patterson and more.
Thank you Ira Padnos.