CONCERT REVIEW- Cassie Taylor at Yukon Rock and Roll Bar, Colorado Springs, CO 8/18/12
We interrupt our planned review of Joe Walsh’s Hudson Garden show to send Mr. Phledge’s dispatch from the front lines:
The little city of Colorado Springs is not known for tolerance, diversity, or any noticeable support of the arts. The Springs is the national headquarters for Focus on Family and over one hundred other right-wing evangelical groups, as well as the home of the Air Force Academy and the Army’s Fort Carson, neither of which has distinguished itself with any leadership on civil rights issues. Few national bands bother to book shows in the city, other than acts that play well to a rodeo crowd or a convention of holy rollers. A telling sign is a search of city bookings on pollstar.com. The search between now and April, 2013 is only two pages long; a similar search of Denver occupies 18 pages. The biggest “rock” act booked in the Springs in that time is Jackson Browne; nice, but not a rocker, and not even a bit edgy. The city has no memorable museums, galleries, or even a hip neighborhood to speak of. But it continually foists pulpit-pounding reactionaries like Ted Haggard upon the rest of the country, at least until their foibles become public. Meth and prostitutes, anyone? Is that you, Rev?
So it was with some surprise that I read the email from local blues promoter Amy Whitesell announcing that rising blues/rock singer and composer Cassie Taylor would be playing a Springs date on Saturday night. The daughter of noted Chicago bluesman Otis Taylor, Cassie gained some notoriety with her role in the “Girls With Guitars” project and CD, along with distaff rockers Samantha Fish and Dani Wilde, and is now based in Boulder, CO, a city ruled by intellectuals, hippies, and artists. Cassie probably felt like a newly arrived Martian, with her Noel Redding in 1967 hairdo, self-designed ( she has her own line of clothing) cloaked miniskirt stage attire, and take-no-prisoners attitude, as she boldly strode to the Yukon’s stage in the shadow of Peterson Air Force base and the front range of the Rockies. The venue itself might be daunting to some; walls adorned with encased Stratocasters and Flying Vs purportedly played by bands like Poison and Motley Crue, as if the Yukon were a time warped exhibit curated by the Hair Band Hall of Fame, probably located in Fort Lauderdale. Who knew that Whitesnake was still huge?
Flashing charm, defiance, and stage presence beyond her years, Cassie did several originals accompanying herself on electric piano and organ, two with only her Fender bass, then added her guitarist and drummer for the “party” portion of the set.On blues-based rockers and jazz-tinged ballads, she displayed a smooth, pliable voice that varied tone and volume easily, and she played keyboards and bass with equal aplomb.
It takes no small measure of confidence and hutzpah to play unknown original blues/rock tunes to a skeptical crowd in a redneck town, and thankfully, this girl has no shortage of either. Cassie quickly won over the crowd, even pulling off a re-configuration of the seating — ” there’s too much space up here, bring your chairs down front”- and the attendant audience participation that can often fall flat on its face. I ordinarily can’t stand that sort of thing at shows, and often resist on principle. Hey, I bought a ticket, drove down here, tolerated some kid who can’t grow a mustache asking me for i.d. to get a beer, and waited for you to tune up. Don’t tell me when to clap, sing along or stand up. If you can move me to do those things without prompting, great. But this isn’t Romper Room, you’re not Mister Rogers, and I don’t need you telling me what to do at the rock show!
(Memo to Phledge’s physician- might want to titrate the dosages- Editors.)
Cassie’s winning performance in this town and venue was quite impressive. Her originals shone brightly, and appeared to be lyrically worthy of further contemplation. The stripped-down, “Unplugged”-like set break seated amongst the fans was wildly received, including her take on Hendrix’ version of Billy Roberts’ “Hey Joe” and a blistering solo by her guitarist Steve LNU, not otherwise identified and not the guitarist named on her web site. Not surprising, perhaps; she doesn’t appear to suffer fools gladly and probably goes through sidemen like most women go through shoes. On break, Cassie breezily greeted fans and hawked wares – “we’ve got the cheapest merch around”- and appeared genuinely surprised at the positive response. The second set was delayed by the action at the merch table, and Cassie remarked that she had never sold so many CDs at a show- ” thank you, Colorado Springs!”- a tribute to her committed performance and the stacked-house of blues fans guided to the Yukon by Amy’s tireless campaigning for blues artists. A memorable night of unexpected musical bliss in the cultural hinterland!
Due to Mr. Phledge’s walkaway, err, unauthorized furlough on Saturday evening – yes, Nanker, those photos on Cassie’s web site were pretty hot – facility rules did not permit him to attend the Joe Walsh show on Sunday. We are currently searching post-concert arrest records and ER admissions to find a suitable replacement correspondent for that review.- Editors