Having rolled through the “solo” folk and the Celtic set, I put together a Country Set that held together nicely. As Piper’s Request left, Dan DeChellis, Nyke Van Wyk, Craig Thatcher and Wendi joined Kris, Kevin and Moe (and myself) on stage for four tunes from the album. Again, this was the first time that we played these tunes, outside of a runthrough before the show.
I wanted to start aggressively with David Mallett’s Ten Men, a nasty little political tune that I dedicated to the recent Davos meeting of the 1% in Switzerland. This is one of the tunes that I was most concerned with. I haven’t played this one out and had done a lot of woodshedding over the last few weeks. I assigned leads to Nyke and Dan, and it was the first time for Craig to play on it. (He hadn’t even played on the CD for this one.) Kevin started it up on drums while I was introducing it (a nice touch) and we rolled right into it. It kicked some righteous ass from the start, I nailed the lyrics (!!!) and the whole band drove the tune home. Very nice reaction from the crowd and a good transition from the Celtic set.
I always have loved Paul Siebel’s Louise, not just for the lyrics and the vocals, but for the quintessential country quality of the song. We took our time setting it up, with the vocals right up front (as it should be), the lead was short and sweet (it was necessary to keep the lads from over-extending it). Dan’s piano lead was pure Floyd Cramer and it was a great introduction of his chops to the audience. I made a point of drifting over to watch him do it, a professional way to acknowledge who’s taking the spotlight. Wendi did some fine vocal harmonies, as she did throughout the night. My Sistah!
We followed with Bill Hall’s great tune Rosie Is a Friend of Mine, a sprightly little number. This one got to introduce Craig’s brilliance as a lead player. We had decided to have him play acoustic tonight, and his lead was tremendous. I actually blanked for the second lead, passing it to Dan, which surprised him (and probably Craig), but that’s what makes these gigs amazing. Dan did a great lead. And, as we ended on the four chord, leaving the audience dangling, it was performed to perfection. My arrangement came out sparkling. What a treat to play with these people! Kris’s solid bass, Moe’s tasty percussion, Kevin’s driving beat, Nyke’s intelligent backup, Wendi’s harmonies and Dan’s piano tones all supported my acoustic rhythm chops and vocals. Kris said this was the finest band he’s played with. I agree.
It was another leap of faith to perform John Gorka’s How Legends Are Made for the lead-up to the Blues Set. The chord progression is delicious and I enjoy playing the fat E chords up and down the neck. It was another song that we put together before the show, and decided to break the Gorka tradition of eliminating leads by asking Craig to come up with two of them. Professional that he is, he had prepared ahead of time and came out with two gorgeous lines. (I can’t wait to hear the tapes… I never can quite appreciate them in the moment) Nyke, Kevin, Kris, Wendi and Dan did all of the seamless backup and gave me the opportunity to sing the hell out of it. Again, it is a song I particularly cared about with the Godfrey’s and Stan connections, to do it to the best of my ability for my friend John. It was a solid finish to this segment of the show. Now the audience knew the whole band
On to the Blues Set.