How was Saturday’s NELLIE MCKAY
concert at The Belcourt, you ask? Just let us adjust our cardigans and refresh our brandy Alexanders. Boy, can that dame belt a tune. Late to her own concert, McKay walked on stage in a taffeta dress that could have been stolen from Donna Reed’s edgier sister. “I know this is the South, so I did my hair up extra big,” she said, and held up a can of hairspray next to her Marilyn-inspired curls. “If it starts to fall down, you all just let me know.” McKay was on her own that night—“My band already went home,” she said—and at first, we wondered if she could keep our attention with just a piano and bright-red nail polish. Two-and-a-half hours later, she’d turned the evening into “The 20th reunion of PeeWee’s Playhouse
,” inviting the audience to sit on stage around her piano and pass the microphone around while she played. “This next song I wanted to sing with Mr. Robert Zimmerman,” McKay announced at the beginning of “We Had It Right,” a song off her permanently delayed sophomore album. “I wrote him a letter; I don’t know why he didn’t respond.” In Dylan’s absence, McKay sang both parts of the duet, hers a sing-song confession of love, his an incoherent nasal wheeze. If you closed your eyes, you’d swear it was the wheeze of the great poet himself. When the audience asked for more Dylan, McKay rhymed “ignoble” with “Chernobyl” and then Zimmer-whined, “I sold too many records to be a rebel.” The sing-along continued with excerpts from McKay’s Ukulele for Beginners
songbook, an audience-requested rendition of “Hidey Hidey Ho,” and a diddy about crying over a bad haircut. After the show, fans flooded the Belcourt’s stage for individual hugs and kisses from the eccentric lady herself. Some received autographed prizes, including a book about cats and a vegetarian starter kit.
Undercover private lovin’
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then outright copying is the ultimate homage. Last Wednesday at Mercy Lounge, Nashville bands paid tribute to Nashville bands by performing three-song sets covering their local favorites. TIGERS CON QUESO
, CASIO CASANOVA
’s new outfit featuring local radio DJ and photographer STEVE CROSS
on drums, blew through a couple of originals before launching into the struttin’ HOW I BECAME THE BOMB
tune “Fat Girls Talkin’ ’Bout Cardio.” THE COMFIES
and Slack covered THE PINK SPIDERS
, and everyone in between seemed to give a shout out to THE PRIVATES
. As the most-covered band the entire night, with three acts doing “We Are Really Rocking Now, Haven’t We?” it was clear they’ve made the biggest impression on the local rock scene. Too bad singer-guitarist DAVE PAULSON
was out of town, though we’re told MATT FRICTION
(who also covered the band’s “Pocari Sweat”) called Paulson holding his cell so he could hear the show all the way in Philly. THE FEATURES
got quite a few nods and so did BEN FOLDS
by newcomers THE CASUAL
, who pulled a Soul Cracker and used their three song-set to muscle the crowd with originals like they were competing on Bands on the Run
. When The Pink Spiders took the stage, they joked that the whole night felt like some “really long inside joke” for them and their friends—an apt description. During BANG BANG BANG
’s set, they admitted they’d go ahead and open the bag of worms that is KINGS OF LEON
, and cut into “Molly’s Chambers,” showing what good sports they are—and they did the cover extremely well, we might add. Then the Spiders and BBB reconfigured to reunite SILENT FRICTION,
the band that spawned them both, for a song. The Mercy wasn’t packed but it wasn’t exactly sparse, either. Murfreesboro was even represented earlier in the evening by THE STATES
, who thoroughly crushed their BANG UP
cover. Even JOHN BRUTON
got into the spirit of the evening, buying shots and getting someone to run lights. The best thing about Mercy Lounge is that it’s the rare club with a regular draw no matter who’s playing—and even the folks who weren’t in the know seemed to have a grand old time. Slack closed their set with a song that begs for a sing-along, The Features’ “Thursday,” but goofed more than half the lyrics. No matter. They brought it back with yet another cover of none other than The Privates’ “We Are Really Rockin’ Now, Haven’t We?”
Friday night’s show at Mercy Lounge was combination homecoming and “Get Well Soon” party for locals THE FEATURES
. The Features, it should be noted, are a real band. You know, like one you would see on MTV—only good. The enthusiastic crowd not only wanted to see them play but to reassure them that they still believed and that everything would be OK—who needs Universal anyway? Good thing they delivered, sounding amazing—tight and bright and on their game. Many people knew all words (their songs are ripe for sing-alongs) and the whole crowd responded to every song—old, medium-old, new—with a hearty roar. But The Features were the night’s second set of fireworks—openers YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
, AARON ROBINSON
’s new outfit, were forced to compete with a surprise fireworks show that drew a sizable chunk of the crowd out to the balcony to watch the lights explode over downtown. (Anyone know the source?) The Features’ new songs, off their EP Contrast
, were standouts—especially the title track, with its swirling guitar hooks and the simple pre-chorus refrain, “This won’t ever last / That won’t ever pass.” Frontman Matt Pelham’s voice was strong and limber, and though he didn’t talk much, he seemed to be having a good time. They opened their encore with the it’s-so-damn-catchy-it-should-have-been-a-mega-hit number “Blow It Out,” and we were happy and we knew it.
Local boys ALTERED STATESMEN
will open the first 10 dates of the upcoming WILCO
tour starting in Huntsville, Ala. JUSTIN EARLE
brought JOHN STIRRATT
and PAT SANSONE
(of Wilco and AUTUMN DEFENSE
) to the Oppenheimer show at The Basement a few weeks back, where Altered Statesmen impressed with their honey-smooth soul. That’s quite the big break for a band without even a MySpace page.
The HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality, hosts WILD WEST SHOWDOWN 3
this Friday, Sept. 22 at Two Rivers Mansion. The fundraiser features a barbecue dinner, bull rides, drag queen poker, dancing, hayrides and live music by KRISTI ROSE
, TRACY RICE
, KAREN KEELEY
, HILLBILLY CASINO
and DJ RON
(not to mention whatever scandalous entertainment Katy K has up her sleeve). HRC soirees are not your typical, stodgy fund-raising yawnfests—to the contrary, they’re usually some of the best parties of the year. Hats off to event sponsors CMT and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, who have a bit more compassion (and cajones) than either of our spineless senatorial candidates, who we assume will not be attending. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door; VIP tickets are $50. For information, visit wildwestshowdown.com.
Despite roots-rocker KEVIN GORDON
’s unassuming workingman persona, he’s suddenly the new bon vivant poster boy. OK, we’re exaggerating a little, but the singer-songwriter seems to be catching on with the debonair set. A September Playboy
story titled “Nashville Underground” praised Chris Knight, Mark Selby and Jeff Black, then called Gordon’s album, O Come Look at the Burning
, “the least classifiable of the lot but perhaps the best….” If Hugh Hefner’s imprimatur isn’t enough to up Gordon’s suave factor, Dewar’s whiskey is using the first track from O Come Look
, “Watching the Sun Go Down,” in TV ads in New York, Boston, L.A. and other major markets. To find out if he’s suddenly wearing smoking jackets and silk pajamas (our guess is no), see Gordon play this Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Family Wash; HI-TONE HOKUM
opens the show at 8:30 p.m.
Though he’s been most visible in recent years as a guitarist in Josh Rouse’s band, CURT PERKINS
is a fine singer-songwriter in his own right. He was the frontman for Charlotte, N.C.’s Thurn and Taxis and Nashville band Stella. Now he’s getting ready to release his first solo disc, Get Something Started
. A breezy R&B dream that channels Marvin Gaye, Brazil 66 and host of other exotic influences, Get Something Started
officially hits the streets in November, but the album is already available from the major digital retailers, and you can preorder CDs at curtperkins.com (and trust us, you won’t be disappointed). But if you need more than our word, check out Perkins and his band when they play the Family Wash at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27.
Email explanations for last Fridays fireworks display and requests for the next edition of “Under the Covers” to email@example.com.