Mmm mmm, good
What Glen Campbell presented Jan. 3 — on the night of his makeup show at The Ryman — was not exactly a man grappling with his myth and his legacy as a consummate professional. His performance, however, definitely had moments of uneasy theater as Campbell showed some signs of the Alzheimer's disease that by now has become part of that myth. The Spin doesn't mean to be disrespectful — it was a remarkable performance by a great singer and guitarist, not to mention a total entertainer. He joked around with the audience, himself and his guitars, sang for the most part impeccably, played some rather startling guitar solos, and even essayed Paul Westerberg's "Any Trouble" as the set wore on.
Backed by the band Instant People, whose members include three of Campbell's children, he was definitely heroic, and the crowd loved him. As for Instant People, their opening set was superb — Celtic-newgrass-flavored banjo and guitar parts rocked under super-smooth vocals, with great harmonies. Glen came out to the strains of "Gentle on My Mind," which was perfect. He played some octave-rich, Wes Montgomery-style licks in the solo and toyed with the song's melody. Then it was on to "Galveston." As he did during most of the night, Campbell let his guitar hang by his side and took the mic out of its stand to roam the stage. As he joked, "Mercy, my hair's standin' up!"
"Try a Little Kindness" found Campbell working in some oddball chromatics in the guitar solo, and there was "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and a great version of Jimmy Webb's "Where's the Playground Susie." We loved his patter: "This is another one of those playground songs. Lost love, man ... " And let's see, he even did "True Grit" and told a couple of John Wayne anecdotes.
It was around here that Glen sort of toyed around with his guitar, trying to find controls that weren't there, making jokes about people switching around his guitars. As he told his daughter Ashley, whose singing, banjo playing, keyboards and general air of loving watchfulness amounted to a wonder of familial love and respect, "I know the guitar's on, but this ain't my guit-ar!" His version of Hank Williams Sr.'s "Lovesick Blues" — well, it was amazing, with Campbell slipping into a comic basso voice and rocking the song hard.
There was also a version of Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith's "Dueling Banjos" that turned into an audience stomp-along, and then a short break while Campbell's children did a version of "Hey Little One," a track from the 1968 Hey Little One full-length. Campbell came back and did some songs from last year's fine Ghost on the Canvas and slipped in a version of Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe" while no one was looking.
Some guys in the pew in front of us — man, Captain Ryman or whoever has gotta line those pews with dollar bills or bubble-wrap or something, and remind us to remind you to never try to slip under that rope by the will-call window, even if you have your ticket, because they will hustle you outside to the line and all. Anyway, these guys in front of us, they had on trucker hats and lots of tattoos and drank beer all night, they whooped and hollered as the opening riff of "Southern Nights" came out of Campbell's guitar. We don't think they were being too ironic, but yeah, "Southern Nights" sure is the real yacht rock. Then it was pleasantly downhill, to a piano-and-vocal version of Jimmy Webb's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and a full-band "Wichita Lineman."
It was something else, and Campbell's sheer joy at playing music — his sheer exuberance as an entertainer, I mean you can just go buy the records if want perfect versions of the songs — came through loud and clear. With his children there to help him — and they are all great players, with special props to drummer Cal Campbell — it was an affirmation of family values in the truest sense of the term.
Just another manic Monday
Mondays: They're some serious bullshit. Well, they can be, but if Makin' Moves — the new Monday night hip-hop showcase at The End — keeps up, The Spin just might change our tune. OK, the rest of the day might still be bullshit, but a solid place to catch some fresh talent for free with some $1 Blue Ribbons might just downgrade our judgment to less-than-serious bullshit.
Makin' Moves is the latest curatorial creation from local MC Kid Dead, and it's a welcome addition to our show-going routine — it's nice to have a spot where you can count on seeing some legit talent, even if you don't really have a clue who's on the bill. While it wasn't the wildest night we've ever been a part of — the crowd was good but not crazy-huge — it was really chill, which is really about all we can handle on a Monday night. Also, the crowd seemed to have a representative from all the little sub-scenes that make up our larger hip-hop community: The Boom Bap's DJ Rate, The Flamingos, Ducko McFli, Sofa Brown, Quiet Entertainer, Al D ... hell, even local-rapper-cum-TV-litigant Rob Dee was in the house.
Beyond the social aspect, the music was tight. Ugly Lovely, who's been cranking out some hella-tight future-funk remixes lately, was in charge of the pre-game and interstitial music, which made us really just think that he's ready for prime-time, full-on party sets — between-act time-killing is kind of a waste of the dude's rather impressive talent. Though he's been around for a minute, The Spin hadn't caught Adoniyah yet, and he was the first act up. While his stage presence leaves something to be desired — it was sort of timid and immobile — he's got a strong flow with thoughtful lyrics and a taste for deep, funky beats that is right in line with where our wig-dome was at.
Up next was Mac L — aka Mickey Luciano and/or Mac the Knife — who we've been following off and on for a few years now. We still maintain that he sounds best when he's fast-rapping, but he has matured, tightened up and generally just gotten better over the years, growing into the '90s underground-style flow he's long been refining. Mac really hit his stride when he was joined by the evening's closer, Prophicy, for a brief set of tandem raps. The Spin is more than willing to date ourselves by mentioning that the first rap record we ever owned was Run DMC's Raising Hell, and we are not afraid to admit that we love nothing more than rap duos throwing down tag-team style like The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. We're old-school like that. Prophicy closed out the night on the solo tip, even serenading the handful of ladies up front before we grabbed his CD and hit the road. Yeah, we could have stuck around, but it was Monday. And don't get us started on how Tuesday can be some serious bullshit too.
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