Little Feat + noise makers + plus music to conga by, with and to


Little Feat at the Cradle
 

Wowie zowie, what a show! It was a night full of signs and magic and meant-to-be’s.  Finney and I were running late and I wasn’t looking forward to driving all over Carrboro looking for parking. But we drove through the lot just in case and there was a spot right in front of the door, almost as if it had been waiting for us all night. 8:30 and the place was packed to the gills with expectant Feat fans as we elbowed our way toward the front to find a good vantage point. As we leaned against a wall stage right, a woman turned to me and offered us their seats when they decided to move closer to the stage. It only got better from there. Even down to Craig Fuller (former Pure Prairie League founder and one-time member of Little Feat) joining them on stage for a goose-bumpy “Amie” and then sticking around for a 10 minute version of “Dixie Chicken” … which is a perfect segue right into my recent column in The WEEKLY:

If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken …
by Deborah P. Miller

I’m confessing right here and now that I have my own personal rock anthem.  No, not exactly written for me, though if truth be told, I have inspired a song or two. I’ve actually had several anthems, each a punctuating high note for my life at the time.  My first was Brown Eyed Girl (still applicable today), followed by Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild, then The Stones Sweet Virginia, and Springsteen’s Born to Run. But, at the top of the list, pretty much since it came out in 1973, is Little Feat’s Dixie Chicken.  I can’t explain why except to say that the song moves me to get up and move. 
Little Feat always felt indefinable. Were they rock? Were they blues? Were they New Orleans funk? How about all the above. They sure can boogie and their energy level on stage is always on the upper range of smokin’.  They are the one band that’s as good live, if not better, than they are on album. No surprise, considering the serious pedigree of the band, various members of which came together by way of Frank Zappa’s Mother’s of Invention. 
Back in 1978 when I was living in Atlanta and working for the Warner Bros. Artist Development Director, he got sent in one direction and asked me to go the other direction for a few shows with Little Feat, who were touring in support of Waiting for Columbus. To say I was excited would be an understatement, but to discover that I’d actually be working with them in my own hometown of Chapel Hill was just a really fine bowl of sausage milk gravy. They stayed at the old Holiday Inn on the Boulevard, played Carmichael Auditorium, and when they asked if I could set up a golf game for them, I turned them over to my Dad, who took them out to Finley Golf Course, and even played 18 holes with them.  I ultimately received a gold album for my insignificant role in that tour.  Maybe it IS the little things. Except that little BIG thing got stolen along with my Cars platinum album.
I was just as excited recently for the opportunity to talk with Paul Barrere, guitarist/slide player/lead and background vocalist for Little Feat prior to their upcoming August 4th show at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro.
When I mentioned that former Chapel Hill visit to Paul, his memory pulled up one nugget.  “Wasn’t that the basketball arena?” he asked.  When I confirmed that it was, he said “I just remember that Dean Smith wasn’t pleased that we were playing on his court. Even though they covered it, he was still worried about the floor.”
Once he and I got past all the reminiscing, the so and so says “hey,” and I’m a friend of “what’s his name,” we got down to the business of talking about what’s new with Little Feat.
Rooster Rag, their 16th album, and the first with new material in almost 7 years, just gets more enjoyable with each listen. I was hooked from the first track, a jumpin’, jivin’Candyman Blues, an old Mississippi John Hurt classic.
Paul was as eager to talk about Little Feat and Rooster Rag as I was and our phone conversation was peppered with lots of teasing and laughter.  Does it get any better than this?
We got cowbell!
Finney happened upon Just Drums one day in his travels around his own neighborhood in South Richmond and he couldn’t wait to take me there.  Lordy, Lordy … it was better than shoe shopping. Too easily said by someone who primarily slips her “I’ve Got The Blues For Red” painted toesies into flip flops every day even in the winter, right?
When was the last time you tested tambourines?  Once the 2 row, 2 metal (brass and stainless steel) version hit my hands, it was all over.  Dual sounds … dry & bright … with more sustain.  I like staying power 🙂
You probably already know that about me though.
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The conga’s stare at me every day.  Sometimes they just taunt. My hands are sore. But I am determined.  I’m told that the way to learn the hand positions is to do 10 minutes of each on each hand.  I may never leave my living room again. Hell, as bad as my hands hurt, I might not be able to manipulate the door knob.  My knife skills in the kitchen are minimal at best for the time being as I pray to get past the initial knuckle shock.
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Music to conga by:
Evil Ways (Santana)
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking or Sympathy for the Devil (The Rolling Stones)
Udu Chant (Mickey Hart)
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