Saturday, June 6, 2009

King of Surf Guitar Acknowledges Daddy-o From Stage, Killer Rocks KC

May 9 and 10, 2006, was an exciting rock 'n' roll weekend for your truly. I went to Kansas City both nights. On Friday, Jerry Lee Lewis performed at the Folly Theater. This was the first of a series of concerts put on by Bill Shapiro, DJ on KCUR radio, possibly for broadcast. The Folly Theater was described as the oldest theater in Kansas City, having opened in 1900. This was the first time I had ever been there. It is located at 12th and Central, right across the street from Municipal Auditorium. I thought the Uptown Theater was older. At 7:00pm, Shapiro gave a 30 minute lecture on Jerry Lee Lewis, his music, life, and place in the world. I suppose this was the longest introduction I'd ever heard. Jerry gave a rockin', good natured performance including "You Belong To Me" ("see the Pyramids along the Nile"). What was kinda funny was that right after the very first song some Englishman indignantly yelled out "We've come all the way from England to hear you play the piano and we cannot hear the piano." Jerry twiddled a knob or two on his amp. God Lord, mate, give the guy at the mixing board a chance. It always takes a song or two to get the balance right. Once His Majesty was mollified, he again yelled out a request for "Kansas City" which Jerry and group honored with great gusto. EVERYBODY adds "Kansas City" to their set list here, no matter what kind of music they play. It always gets a lusty audience response. Locals are far from indifferent to this song. Of note, this night's bass player was B. B. Cunningham, a Memphian of great renown. His group the Hombres had a 1967-68 hit with "Let It All Hang Out". By God, Jerry actually kicked the piano stool during the finale. The audience went nuts. Jerry's band hung out with fans by the bus for a good half hour posing for pics and signing autographs. This was the third time I have seen the Killer. I saw him twice in the 1980s.

On Saturday, I saw the King of the Surf Guitar, Dick Dale for the 13th time since 1995, at the Grand Emporium. I will never forget these blazing concerts! Dick is indeed a living legend. For the first several songs Dick was clowning around on stage, playing song fragments, unintentional medleys, and joking with the audience. He was no doubt happy to be playing the final date of his six-week long annual Spring tour and was letting himself go. Though, by the time he got to "Miserlou" he got down to business and for the rest of the show showed everyone just exactly what he can do, playing guitar that has inspired endless other players for decades. He, as usual, also played drums simultaneous with the regular drummer, played drum sticks on the strings on the bass guitar, and trumpet! Dick announced that he has recorded a song for inclusion on a tribute album to Joe Maphis, the famed country and rockabilly guitar player remembered for his double-necked Mosrite guitar. He then played a country guitar medley as an example of what Maphis would play. He started with a few notes and asked "Anyone know this one?" I yelled out "Wildwood Flower". Everyone looked at me. Dick said "Say again?" I repeated my answer. He pointed at me and said he didn't think anyone would know that. He then said "I'm gonna play this one for you, friend!" Since I think 1996, Dick Dale has played these six-week long Spring tours that cover the northeast quarter of the United States. He usually starts in Colorado then goes as far northeast as Maine, then works his way back to the Midwest. Kansas City is usually the last or next to last stop on these tours. He'll play six nights a week on average. Last night he referred to these tours as "Blood Alley". In the last six weeks, I attended all three nights of the Ponderosa Stomp in Memphis, Tennessee, and concerts by Wanda Jackson, Sonny West, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Dick Dale. I've seen more live music in last month than I usually see in years. Please see photographs of these concerts in my Flickr Album! After the concert Dick confirmed that Sundazed Records is indeed in production of reissues of all his 1950s - 1960s recordings for the Deltone and Capitol labels. Dick has often expressed misgivings about his old recordings, but these are indeed the records that, along with his West coast concerts, made him famous. Fans think they are great and no doubt will love to hear them scratch-free. Dick owns these master tapes, not Capitol/EMI.� Two compilations of these recordings came out on Rhino in the 1990s. I think Dick has sat on these recordings for long enough. Each of his LPs are to be reissued with non-LP bonus tracks on both CD and LPs. I really hope these will include his records on the Cougar label, which I think Dick owned. My guess we'll hear these in 2007.