Thanks for all your thoughts on gigs. Clearly touched some kind of nerve there. I take some of your points about pricing……I must admit I feel I have served my rock n roll dues long enough to allow myself a guest list place. The other main reason for not buying tickets is simple: No sooner have we bought them than plans change and we’re not available that night. For that reason it’s usually a couple of days before an event that I’ll know if I’m certainly going. Occasionally this confidence can be a little misplaced.
A couple of months ago Dolly Parton appeared in the city. As usual I’d done nothing about securing myself a couple of briefs for the show. However we’d blagged our way in to the Armadillo on her last visit and were shocked at how great it was. We had to return. I had to get the serious crawling plan out. Agents, promoters, tour managers….her producer at one point were all phoned. No joy. We sat at home watching something on the telly and regretting not buying the tickets early.
However despite that experience (possibly because of it) the first Dolly show has a golden halo around it in my memory. Seldom do I see things which I want to tell everyone about but Dolly Parton that night was the best. She had with her an 8 piece blue grass band who played at the highest level but in the middle of the show they left her alone with a guitar and a mic and we all realised we’d have been as happy if she’d just turned up with that. What a star.
The other great thing about Dolly, and a lot of great roots artists, is her ability to write a brilliant song on the first few chords you’d ever learn. Any old fool can put a load of diminished 6ths together but only the alchemists know how to turn 1, 4 and 5 into pop gold. Bob Dylan is the master and Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison too are masters but James Brown and Smokey Robinson are in the top league too.
Talking about James. Our great friend The Captain has steered the front of house sound ship on our tours for twenty odd years. A couple of years ago we did a show up in Crathes Castle in Deeside. The night before we played James Brown had been in da house. (or da castle gardens in this case.) The Captain had also been responsible for mixing the sound for the hardest working man. He’d been told by the JB manager that there were to be two DAT tapes made of the show and to save any possibility of anyone bootlegging the show The Captain was to come round to the dressing room after the show and ‘personally put the DATs in Mr Brown’s hand.’ The Captain liked this story and, needless to say, regaled it to the assorted members of our band the next night. We loved it too and wanted to know what happened when the Captain met James Brown. At this point you probably need to know that the Captain is one of the gentlest and most fastidious of sound guys. Never one to leave the poop deck in a state of chaos, after JB had left the stage he tidied up the desk and eventually located the DATs ready for delivery to the main man. If this had been you or me we would have been rushing round to the dressing room with the vain hope that we’d have the bonus of a wee photo opportunity along the way. Not the Captain. He spent so long tidying up he nearly forgot to go round so that when he did turn up the greatest living soul man had left the building, crossed the moat and was winging it back do whatever soul men do when they’ve gone done entertaining you. I guess the Captain must still have the DATs in his house.
Ricky, thanks for these wonderful musings. I hope you keep these up even after your stint in the Late Lounge is over.
Your story telling has and is always enthralling.
My Dolly Parton memory — a collective gift to my father and an outing with both my parents — goes down as one of my favourite gigs of all time, and it was the stripped-down moments of bluegrass or solo Dolly that were the definite highlights.
She’s a fantastic all-round entertainer (with a knack for story-telling to rival your own, Ricky!) but above all a seriously under-rated writer, although I’d never really considered the skill in the simplicity with which she crafts such great songs. Her gag about knowing she’s neither dumb nor blonde was entirely superfluous, and I’d ordered three of her bluegrass albums on-line just as soon as I got back home.
Just loved Dolly Parton’s quip when she won a special Grammy recently. Finally being rewarded for the two things she’s best known for…her music and lyrics…!
This first bit should probably go on the Great Outdoors blog rather than here but I’m not long done there. I see Deacon Blue’s dodgy track record with outdoor events strikes again and Humberfest is a wash-out. Had wondered how Ricky was going to do the show there and lead the Late Lounge… was Jim Prime going to be standing in on lead vocals with Lorraine? Hope they get another date sorted out.
Have never been to a Dolly gig but i can relate to what the previous posters have said about great songwriting, and charming storytelling making gig-going worthwhile. The guy who has blown me away several times in concert is a little known singer called Larry Norman. He just had his 60th birthday this year and I’ve seen him in Motherwell, Belfast, Manchester, the Cavern Club (rebuilt one) as well as Wigan, Birmingham, London and a magical night in Edinburgh in 2001. One guy and a guitar, sometimes a piano and you never know what you are gonna get from him! Along the way there are usually moments at his gigs where you get a new transcendant view on life, heckles for less chat and more songs, forgotten lyrics to songs he wrote himself, a lot of laughter and sometimes both he and the audience have cried. Never uses a written setlist and no two shows are ever the same. Usually its around 3 hours with a lot of zany stories, lots of great songs you don’t ever hear on a radio, and about 10 chords employed over the 3 hours.
Ok, so I listened to the show and that Cat Mother and the Newsboys thing was driving me crazy, so I Googled….Who knew and I was quite sober in those days, still am thank you.
Biography by Jason Ankeny
Grassroots rockers Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys formed in New York’s Lower East Side in 1967 — comprising singer/guitarist Larry Parker, lead guitarist Charlie Chin, bassist Roy Michaels, keyboardist Bob Smith, and drummer Michael Equine; By year’s end they were regularly headlining the Café Wha?, and soon were ensconced as the house band at the famed Electric Circus. In 1969 the group signed to Polydor Records, with longtime friend Jimi Hendrix agreeing to produce their debut LP The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away — supported by a series of appearances as Hendrix’s opener, the record generated Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys’ lone Top 40 hit “Good Old Rock and Roll,” a medley of pop classics from the late 1950s. Chin left the lineup soon after, and in an attempt to also sever ties with manager Michael Jeffrey, the remaining bandmembers traveled to San Francisco to record the follow-up, 1970s Albion Doowah, a pastoral, country-inspired effort featuring Paul Johnson on guitar and Jay Ungar on bass. Parker split soon after, and the remaining trio of Michaels, Smith and Equine returned to New York, abbreviating their name to simply Cat Mother and recruiting guitarist Charlie Prichard and percussionist Steve Davidson for their eponymous 1971 LP. Guitarist Charlie Harcourt replaced Prichard for Cat Mother’s fourth and final album, 1973’s aptly-titled Last Chance Dance, although the group continued playing live for several years to follow.
I STILL HAVEN’T A CLUE….MY APOLOGIES TO ALL OF THEM……
Thanks, Nancy, for digging up this information. I’m the one who e-mailed Ricky about the band on Tuesday, though my Wikipedia-provided info wasn’t as thorough as what you came up with. The first album, The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away, is available through Amazon U.S. for $66, so I’ll certainly search elsewhere to find a better price. I haven’t listened to their music in years–decades, actually–so I can’t even recall if I liked them all that much. The Amazon U.S. page contains some enthusiastic user comments, so there are some Cat Mother fans waiting expectantly for the re-release of all of their albums.
One more note about Cat Mother: Since one of its members was named “Equine,” the band’s moniker was a mixed animal metaphor. Perhaps they went with the feline sobriquet because they thought their fans weren’t likely to be members of the horsey set.
Where, pray tell, did the “Newsboys” come from? I have some co-workers here in the “newsroom” and looking at the just boogles the mind in every way! They have ZERO sense of rythm and you should hear them trying to “sing-a-long” with the wonderful music Ricky and his crew play. Makes me want to retire early.
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