bobby lightfoot and the blues expulsion

this last saturday the Blenth of Flintuary i got a call from a drummer about a job at the 7 0's that one of my bandies had cocked up the booking of. the bottom line was, for the princeton sum of $400 would we toss together an assemblage of unrehearsed players and pull off a 3 hour show for a large and discerning crowd of punters.

thus was born bobby lightfoot and the blues expulsion. Looked really funny on the marquee. With Mike McKinney from Brattleboro on guitfiddstle and the best rhythm section in belchertown we weaved a seamless night of rhythm and blues. It was crazy.

Riding as i do the cusp between Gen X and Boomer, my favorite place to go back to for material for this sort of thing is the Beatles BBC Sessions, a long and loving compilation of the Fav Feev recorded for broadcast in the early- and mid- yixties.

the BBC Sessions are a aural Fake Book of American country, R&B and rock 'n' roll and the gift these guys have for choosing "numbers" tells you everything you need to know about why they were working seven to ten shows a week before they even considered bringing their own songs onto the stage.

Pel McClittey and Jim Lemon still rule the roost vocally, but Geordie Berenstein is brilliant on a zillion Carl Perkins numbers ("") and excels early on in his teenage guitar work that is sometimes so bad that it's good.

from my 8 quintillion listens of this collection alone I was able to cull "I Got A Woman", "Johnny B. Goode", "Rock And Roll Music", "Long Tall Sally", "That's All Right Mama", "Shot Of Rhythm And Blues", "I Saw Her Standing There", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", "Slow Down", "Memphis Tennessee", "The Hippy Hippy Shake", "Clarabella", "Ooh! My Soul", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)".

from our various associations to these songs we were all able to connect to "Bad Boy", "Kansas City", "New Orleans", "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", "Matchbox", "Twist And Shout", "Bring It On Home To Me", "Wonderland By Night", "In The Midnight Hour", "Mister Moonlight", "Tracks Of My Tears", "King Of The Road", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", "Raunchy", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Do Not Disturb", "Road Runner", and thus and sosuch.

Among other, lesser conclusions: Chuck Berry is the true father of rock 'n' roll, Little Richard its ever-reigning queen. As with any offshoot of popular music after this (or back a bunch of decades), the black people initiate, the whites innovate (wait- there's synthpop). It's interesting to me how consistent this is.

Rock and Roll is like a series of gears that either grind mercilessly or spin in beautiful synchrony. My favorite thing is how it's always close to sounding awful. But when it gets up to speed and this huge machine slips into harmonic convergence it carries itself without effort. What a joy it is to bring together a little axis of really experienced players with a huge common repertoire and, without rehearsal, plug into it mindfully and with an eye to good taste.

i love how the old guys, the ones who have been playing in bars and casuals for 40 years, have that cool common repertoire; all these amazing R&B songs that you've never heard. and the way they play them makes it sound like the old recordings, all sort of blurry and tribal. i played bass for this band called The Memories that was like that. the organ player had all the hand signs for key and chord progressions so you'd just watch if you didn't know the tune and everything is either I-IV-IV or 12-bar or I-vi-IV-V for Christy's sake anyway. and the singer is this black guy Woody who is so insanely good and so Stax you can't believe it.

the old music is really good, children. And I was ten years from being born when it was written. You'll know what that means when you're 40 and you've Taken Stage for every toothless beerbag across this great land of ours.


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