Tinsel and Rot pulled off the rare concert hat trick Saturday, hitting three shows over the course of about twelve hours. We will now pause for your applause.
The day started with a boat ride from downtown Manhattan to Governors Island, a heretofore unvisited-by-Tinsel-and-Rot island that served as a military base from 1776 to 1996. It's now open to the public, and, this month, the island is hosting the Folks on the Island concert series every Saturday at 1:30. This past Saturday's show was a salute to Harry Chapin featuring many members of the Chapin family. I suppose you can knock Harry Chapin for his penchant for long story songs, but I also suppose I could knock you in the mouth for doing so. And it will be a particularly forceful knock if you dare to mock my favorite Harry Chapin song, "Flowers Are Red," sung by brother Tom Chapin on Saturday. I'm also fond of "Mr. Tanner" after Saturday, so keep any derogatory comments on that one to yourself, too.
The show also covered the big Harry hits, like "Taxi," "W*O*L*D," the show-closing "Circle," and, of course, "Cat's in the Cradle." That's a fine song and all, but I found it odd when people started clapping along to it. It's not really a song that encourages clapping along. But whatever. If a song about crappy parenting makes you want to sway and clap, that's your business.
I didn't have much time to explore the island, as I got a late start and had to rush back to get the boat that would ensure I got to the next show on time, but it was interesting to see the island that I had only seen from afar on those daily Staten Island Ferry rides (boy, I miss those). I'll have to go back and explore the side of the island I didn't see last Saturday. You oughta check it out yourself. Ferry ride's free and short.
But enough about Governors Island. Time to go to the Citysol festival on 23rd Street and the East River to see O'Death. I'd been trying to catch O'Death for a few months now, as they've been getting some good word of mouth going based on their live show. They opened an Avett Brothers show last summer, but I got there too late to see more than one song. But since they were scheduled to play Citysol at 5 on Saturday, that fit right into the schedule.
It wasn't the greatest show in the world, but they certainly do have a lot of energy going for them, thus making them an appropriate band to play at a festival dealing in large part with energy concerns (oh, I know it's a stretch, but it's the day after the hat trick, and I'm hot and tired). There's jumping, flailing, screaming, chain rattling--a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And while I'm not completely won over just yet (the songs don't do all that much for me, and repetition creeps up a lot), they certainly get points for enthusiasm.
After Citysol, it was back to New Jersey--Hoboken, specifically--for dinner (Benny Tudino's), dessert (Emack & Bolio's), and the Ponderosa Stomp show at Maxwell's.The Ponderosa Stomp is a yearly festival that gathers up the unsung heroes of rock and roll to perform for the music nerds that adore them. This year, the organizers decided to bring a stripped-down version of the festival to Hoboken and Brooklyn. When Saturday night opened up in my schedule, I did some research into the people on the bill. When I looked into headliner Roy Head, I came upon this YouTube clip:
And five seconds later, I decided I was going.
It was a long, but ultimately fun night that started with locals the A-Bones (with Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan on keyboards) doing their own set before backing up Ray Sharpe (above), whose biggest hit was "Linda Lu" (to be honest, I hadn't heard most of the artists' "big hits" before Saturday). Sharpe was close friends with the late, great Ronnie Dawson, who was probably one of the first musicians I ever saw at Maxwell's. Sharpe's music mines the same rockabilly territory as Dawson, and sounded pretty good to me Saturday night.
Sharpe was followed on stage by Tommy McLain (backed by Yo La Tengo for a six-song set of Louisiana swamp pop that ended with his version of "Sweet Dreams" and a genuine declaration of his love for those who came out to the show), Tammi Lynn (above; she had a minor hit with "Mojo Hannah" and sang on the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street"...I'd give you a Web link, but there's not much out there on her), and Texas soul singer Bobby Patterson (below; the writer and original performer of one of the few Fabulous Thunderbirds songs I remember, "How Do You Spell Love?). All were backed by an all-star band that featured keyboardist Willie Tee, guitarists Skip Pitts and Teenie Hodges, and Willie Hall, augmented by a four-piece horn section that featured "Saturday Night Live" bandleader Lenny Pickett. Pretty cool.
Finally, Roy Head came out to close the night, and, 40-plus years after the above YouTube clip, he still performs as if shot out of a cannon. The leg-bending stage moves may be gone and the voice a few thousand cigarettes raspier, but he still paces around the stage and twirls the microphone around like it's 1965. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of his set was briefly curtailed by a posse of four roots rock weirdos, one of whom tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey! You can't wear earplugs!" Really? I can't? So I should spend four hours directly next to a speaker without earplugs? Duly noted. I'll keep that in mind for the next time. Thanks for pointing out how noncool being able to hear well into my 30s is.
I spent most of the rest of Head's set dodging the fearsome foursome and my earplug-averse friend's hair as she flung it about. But it was a good time anyway, with the main set capped by Head writhing on the Maxwell's floor. No pictures of that, so make do with this:
And, so, a little after 1:30 a.m., the concert day ended.
On Sunday, I rested.