Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So where was I? Sorry to leave you all hanging right in the middle of the show. A lot of the show is now popping up on YouTube and various other sites along with some still photography galleries. The Ardent Studios FB page offers a wide-sweeping compilation of these sources so I won't repeat them here.

Take Care. The final highlight of the concert for was Ken and Jon singing Take Care. I'm of the general opinion that Big Star 2.0 was more suited to the material on the first two albums but this performance was heartfelt and poignant to say the least. Most shows like this one end up with everyone on stage for the grand finale – like a teen comedy where everyone ends up in the pool – and this one was no different. But if the concert had ended with Take Care, it would have been fine with me.

The next day I drove down to Clarksdale MS with my friends Parke Puterbaugh (music and travel writer extraordinaire) and Jim Duckworth (guitarist for the Panther Burns and Gun Club) and explored the Delta a bit. That story and a final word on the weekend coming shortly...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back from Memphis. If you haven't read them yet, there are good summaries of the concert at and the site for the Memphis Commercial Appeal (if you're on Facebook, sign up for the Ardent Studios page...they post links for significant coverage of Big Star in the media). Amongst the highlights for me were:

Playing Chris Bell's red Gibson 330 (used on #1 Record) for a minute. When I arrived at the venue I ran into Adam Hill of Ardent who was carrying two guitar cases. He said, "Follow me." When we got to the guitar tech area he opened one of the cases and there was Chris's Gibson, loaned for the concert by David Bell. Even more cool was that David had left the contents of the case intact, just as Chris had left them: picks, a capo, and a disposable razor. On the outside was the sticker that came with the Wings album Venus and Mars (which I once had on the case of a Gibson L-6S). Adam was pretty insistent that I play it – something I really prefer not to do as I'm not that good and even worse when put on the spot. But I couldn't pass up the chance and ended up nervously (didn't want to drop the guitar on the concrete floor) playing some James Gang riffs (a favorite of the band before Alex joined) before passing it back. John Auer later used the guitar in the concert as well. The other case held Chris's Gibson acoustic. Adam played I Am The Cosmos on it while getting it ready. Great sounding guitar.

The opening salvo. The concert started with the core trio (Jody, John, Ken) playing Back of A Car and then they were joined by John Davis of Superdrag for great versions of In The Street, Don't Lie To Me, and When My Baby's Beside Me. Davis just nailed it. Right on the money with the vocals, guitar, energy and spirit. He set the bar high for the special guest appearances and no one topped him. This particular line-up could and should continue as a performing unit in some way playing Big Star's music. After John Davis left the stage the trio did I Am The Cosmos. All in all, the first five songs were a strong reminder that Big Star was Chris's band to begin with and represented his artistic vision. The tone was effectively set that the evening was a tribute to Big Star and not just Alex.

For You. The band was joined by Jody Stephen's brother, Jim, who had played bass on the original recordin on Third. Despite the frenzied pace of the day, the band hit a really comfortable relaxed groove and Jody's vocals were spot on. All the band members had incredibly hectic days with rehearsals and the filming going on throughout. I wondered how they were going to catch their breath and relax a bit before they hit the stage. And then it started to rain on top of all that. They were sharp throughout the concert but this was certainly a highlight.

(to be continued)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting ready to head down for Saturday's show...full report and hopefully some photos next week. Hope to see you there...

Friday, May 7, 2010

All the way to Memphis...

I'll be in Memphis from 5/14 to 5/17 to attend the Big Star concert, touch base with old and new friends, meet the crew working on the documentary, and maybe squeeze in a trip to Clarksdale.

If you haven't visited the Kickstarter page for the Big Star documentary (see previous post), you should check it out right now. The response has been fantastic so far. As well it should be...Drew and Danielle and company are making sure that it's done right. It's going to be great.