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?
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.
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.
There’s an Angklung in my backseat. And it’s been back there for about a week. Yes, I put it there. But we’ll come back to that.
Cat’s Cradle. Early & late … all at the same time.
4/17/12.Mickey Hart at Cat’s Cradle was an all-encompassing visceral experience. There was so much “bottom” in that room that my bar stool was vibrating. Sexy as all hell and back. I was having lascivious thoughts about that stool, and I think my friend Liz was too. Permanent vibrations. To be sure, I’m not a Deadhead, but Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum is just one of my favorite percussion albums. So I was in it for the boom-boom pow. There were Deadheads out in force. Whirling dervishes in tie-dyed tees spinning out in worship … gigantic blow up “planets” swaying gently from the ceiling … and the punctuation mark … an old friend next to me who leans over to yell in my ear that he wishes he’d waited an hour to drop that blotter acid since the band didn’t start until nearly 9 instead of 8. It was that kind of night.
Listen to Not Fade Away (Mickey Hart & Band)
Come to think of it, I think the Angklung belongs with Mickey Hart.
Megafaun at Cat’s Cradle
4/19/12. Megafaun & Drive By Truckers. I’m a Megafaun fan from way back. Well, at least since 2009, about a year after they got together. Banjo and harmonies done thoughtfully and right. Wikipedia describes them as an American psyche-folk band from Durham, NC. Pssst … I liked them better than DBT, if truth be told, because the Truckers were so loud I had to go buy ear plugs. That’s something I never thought I’d see myself type.
4/23/12. William Elliott Whitmore & Trampled By Turtles. Trampled by Turtles, an indie-bluegrass-folk band, from Duluth blew in and took the Cradle with it all night long, including 2 salutes to Levon Helm with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “The Weight.” What struck me was how many of the mostly-younger-than-me audience knew every lyric to those two classics. They are as tight a band as I’ve ever seen and I loved every note. Those boys can pick a tune every which-a-way and back. Don’t miss TBT tonight on David Letterman.
Listen to Alone (Trampled by Turtles). Get past that commercial. It’s worth every second.
The Angklung is at least behaving itself in the back seat. No clanging aloud.
Catch (Wilmington, NC) Crab Cake
Catch/Wilmington,NC Thursday, 4/5/12
Keith Rhodes was a cheftestant on the most recent Top Chef Texas series on Bravo. I followed and cheered him on proudly like the good Tar Heel I am. Gathering in Wrightsville Beach, NC for a family beach wedding, I jumped at the chance to visit Catch with my sisters and brother (and their families).
Wow, wow, wow. We’re a foodie family and we don’t impress all that easily. The menu is simple with fresh, local ingredients, when available. I started with a grilled asparagus salad followed by the Pan Roasted “Oriental, NC” Back Fin & Lump Crab Cakes with a White Truffle Mash + Mixed Farm Greens + Lobster Cognac Bisque. Lord, help me. It was eye-rolling. In fact, everyone at the table spent the first full minute in a stunned silence as they took bites of whatever they ordered. Well, maybe there were a couple of orgasmic groans that I’m forgetting to mention. Keith came by the table to meet and check on us. His beautiful wife, Angela, is the front-of-house magician to whatever he’s conjuring in the kitchen. From the minute you meet her you imagine that you’re suddenly best friends, sipping sweet tea on a porch rocker somewhere. She had to show me their hydroponic herb garden growing behind the bar, and pulled out a basil plant that had roots so long they just kept coming and coming. I’ll go back and you should too.
Ok, the Angklung. I was at the Chapel Hill Historical Society and someone said “I just wish someone would get that clangy thing out of the back.” Now, being a fan of clangy things, I said “I’ll probably be happy to take it.” So I did without even knowing what it was … though, from the look of it, it was definitely some kind of percussion instrument. Which I’m also a fan of. (Did I really just end that in a preposition? “Of which I am also a fan” just sounds so … so … like I was trying too hard. I’m allowed a little poetic license, right?)
I imagined it had Asian origins. And it does. Indonesian, to be exact, played throughout Southeast Asia, mostly in Sudan. Bamboo tubes, carved and tuned to octaves, attach to a bamboo frame. Hold the base of the frame in one hand while the other hand strikes the instrument. There are actually angkalung ensembles where each player strikes just one note or more, that when played altogether produces complete melodies.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with this clangy thing, but don’t hold your breath waiting for a personal performance.
So … Simmer2Sizzle. Why, you ask? And, ask you should. It’s a reflection, sometimes irreverent, on food, wine, music, love, sex and all those loco-motions that tickle your fancy, make you go bump in the night, and start out as a simmer and end up a full-tilt sizzle.