Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I'm not sure how many other Americans are aware, but Tennesseans and Nashvillians know that we got hit by a pretty serious flood at the beginning of May. Although some things are starting to return to normal, lots of property and homes are still seriously effed up. John Odom, the nice, intelligent, friendly civilian behind the alter-ego of Nashville's (what's the opposite of) favorite numb-skull garbage band J-Po and the V.A.B., put together an all-star lineup of Nashville bands past, present, and future for a Memorial day benefit, complete with free delicious food and a silent auction.
The day started with a light-hearted set from Ballhog. They were missing Craig, the banjo player, but they played around this handicap giving us favorites such as "El Fandango", "Bottom of a Hole", and their newest hit, "East Nashville Lullaby". This set was a good way to start off a marathon day of music.
Next up was Nashville troubadour Duncan May and the Resonators. Lately they have been filling their shows with new material from their latest release, Carnivale. Duncan is still one of the best bassists in town and his rapid fire guitar player, Scott Hall, will straight up blow your mind with his solos. He is one of the few players that has the ability to play a million notes per second with a soft-spoken soul and feeling that most machine gun players lack. This new batch of songs was some classic Duncan, with starts and stops that reminded me of RUB, and funky rock that has become the norm from this outfit.
The matinee set came from our favorite weirdo psych rockers H-Beam. Even with only 45 minutes to play, they still packed in a couple sketches, a valley girl-guy character, and some really sick rock and roll. With allstar drummer Curt Redding rounding out the rhythm section with Russell Wright, a duo that would dominate most of the night, the Beam smacked us with some goodies like "Naked Ladies Dot Com" and "The Girl's Gone Wild" along with the ode to the "Love Panda". Matt Whalberg was on and they put on a full psychedelic freak out at 4 o'clock on a Monday afternoon that got the night moving in a more full-blown direction.
The next set was part Jack Nasti, part J Po and the V.A.B, part (cough) MC Vivid, and part me doing everything but listening to music that was on the big stage at 12th and Porter on Monday, around 6 o'clock, May 31, 2010. I grabbed some of the great food, saw some old friends, killed a beer or three, went out to my car for a fresh pack of smokes, read a few articles in the Scene, and just stood still outside for a while. It was a great hour.
Up next was the "past" portion of the night, a short set from old Nashville jammers Mile 8. As their shows move ever increasingly from "farewell" to "reunions", they still give a crowd a good time. They were missing their sax player Adam Livingston (from Boom Ticket) as well as their percussion guru Bobby Knowles, also from Boom Ticket. Unfortunately the Ticket had scheduled some studio time they could not rearrange so the show had to go on without them. They went on with a sax replacement but no vocal stand-in for Adam, two percussionists who tried to come close to filling Bobby's shoes and the rest of the most recent lineup. Mile 8 gave us a tour through their history with a couple old ones, a couple covers, and "the last song we ever wrote", "Sky Driver". The "Chester Copperpot">"Elaphlamingo" suite was magnificent and the bluegrass version of "Mr. Brownstone" was downright silly but still a lot of fun. Can't wait till Thanksgiving.
Johnny Neel and the Criminal Element came on to round out the event and played a mix of old and new stuff including Volume 3's "Wouldn't That Be Nice" and a debut of their version of "When the Levee Breaks". They also played a beautiful version of the Beatles' "This Boy", totally nailing all the harmonies, producing a moving moment in the midst of an otherwise criminal set. It seemed like their most celebrated rockers such as "Toasted" and "Funk Pump" were a step or two slower than usual, which could have been blamed on the fact that Randy, Curt, and Russell had played a combined 14 sets on the day and might have been a little gassed. Johnny played a helluva show, being that it was his only of the night, and the contributions from Old Union's Spotty Dog on guitar and Jesse Meeks on percussion filled out the sound.
This event was a complete success, raising over six thousand dollars for flooded families and giving over two hundred non-boat-owners something fun to do on Memorial day. Kudos to John Odom and everyone else who made this happen. With musicians and friends in a community like this, I say as bad as the natural disasters may be, there isn't one we can't overcome with a kick-ass party and a whole smoked pig.