As The Year Goes Passing By: A Look Back at 2012

The Ghost Writer heads North!

Our guys Harry G and Nanky P hook up by satellite to trade tales of 2012– Ed.

Harry: For me, the year was bookended by memorable shows from two of my favorite mid/late-70’s artists. In early January, Garland Jeffreys made a rare appearance up here in the Great White North. Backed by just a single guitarist and playing to an adoring, sold-out house in a small theater in NE Minneapolis, Garland was animated, engaged and gracious to a fault, staying after the show for hours signing anything people shoved in front of him and posing for photographs. The Parker and Rumour review has already been posted, so ’nuff said about that. Both men proved that rockers of a certain age can still be vital, passionate and relevant, without turning into anachronistic Indian-casino-touring oldies shows.

Nanker: For me, it’s the unexpected, off-the-cuff moments that are the live concertgoers’ reward for tolerating outrageous fees by brokers, no parking near venues, and pre-drink requests for I.D. from twenty-year-olds who can’t grow a beard. ” I.D.? I saw Blind Faith back when your Mom was a preschooler! Give me a damn beer! ”

Malcom, Luther, and John rock the soundcheck

Malcom, Luther, and John rock the soundcheck

How about these: Watching the North Mississippi Allstars’ soundcheck, as Luther Dickinson helped integrate new bassist Lightnin’ Malcom and tour keyboardist Missing Cat John Hermann by jamming on the Stones’ Latin-flavored rave-up finale to ” Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’? ” Listening to Mavis Staples telling the story of her father, Roebuck ” Pops ” Staples, writing ” Keep On Marchin’ ” in 1963 for the blood-stained Freedom Marches in Alabama. Hearing Joe Walsh, his little-kid voice choking with emotion, saying of his friend Levon Helm, ” I’m not okay with his passing, but it helps me to sing this “, as he lead his band into ” I Shall Be Released “. Meeting Marcia Ball at the merch tent at Blues Under the Bridge and asking how she liked the Soiled Dove Underground ( she did!). Seeing Bonnie Raitt raise her fists in triumph like Rocky Balboa to proclaim, ” I just had a visit from Dr. Feelgood “, and knowing that every guy at Red Rocks wished it was him.

Blues Under the Bridge 2012

Blues Under the Bridge 2012

Where else but at the Rock Show?

Harry: Ah, Levon! His passing figured prominently in a number of venues this year. In Nashville, at the Americana Music Festival Honors & Awards show in September, not only did a cast of Americana heavyweights gather onstage for a stirring rendition of “The Weight,” dedicated to Levon, but later that evening the song was reprised by a different group of musicians at The Mercy Lounge. Nick Lowe gave a “Good on ya, mate” shout out to the late drummer for The Band at his First Avenue show, shortly after Levon’s death. I feel a certain affinity for Levon, as we share the same birthday (albeit 13 years apart). Like the old Pete Seeger song says, there was a time to mourn and a time to celebrate this year. NRBQ regrouped and put out a strong new album this year, following band leader Terry Adam’s recovery from cancer. A number of local Twin CIties bands put on a Kill Kancer Benefit show, in memory of the late Soul Asylum bass player, Karl Mueller. Another cancer survivor, Danny Amis, played most of a set with his fellow Los Straitjackets band members in September. So, for every loss, there is a survivor, and promising newcomers are always waiting, ready to pick up the torch.

NRBQ at Famous Dave’s in Minny!

Nanker: We should also remember Donald ” Duck ” Dunn, the Memphis kid who teamed with guitarist Steve Cropper and organist Booker T. Jones to make some of the greatest music ever in the late 60s/early 70s at the tiny Stax Records studio in his hometown, backing up Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Wilson Pickett, in addition to his own MGs with Steve, Booker, and the drummer Al Jackson, Jr.

Stax Recording Studios, Memphis, TN

Stax Recording Studios, Memphis, TN

Gebippe at Stax front door, in Otis' footsteps

Gebippe at Stax front door, in Otis’ footsteps!

And here’s hoping for a blowout New Year’s Eve at the 9:30 Club in D.C. with the North Mississippi Allstars Duo and the Drive-By Truckers. ” She ain’t revved ’til the rods are thrown! ” See ya there!

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