But that's not the Point... My point is that I need to change my name to something derived from "Hawk"! Why? Because whereas I earned my "Shit List" status at the House of Blues Anaheim for my gastro-intestinal revolt just next to the HOBA Souvenir Counter, I've apparently gained "Ally" status there, as I'm not only recognized but welcomed with open arms by Security there. One of them even gave me a foot massage! Okay, that last part might have been a dream. I didn't even get filthy looks when I went up to the bar, though.
Of course, maybe that had less to do with me and more to do with the fact that Jerry Lee Lewis was playing. Showing up was Michelle's idea. Swinging in on a Vine like Tarzan the Ape man was my idea. She got her way, I did not. Glad I didn't bet like I did at the LBBF2K6... that was humiliating, I'd say!
But, uh, back to the lecture at hand... Just about anyone who knows anything about Louisiana Boy Jerry Lee has a strong opinion about him one way or the other (assuming they still have strong opinions about anything). Many will consider him a Rock Legend worth seeing at almost any cost. Many see him as that Rock Pariah whose list of "Kiss My Ass!" moments number so many that Price-Waterhouse themselves refuse to bother counting them. The man's history is as varied as the UN and could potentially make one hell of a movie (I'm kidding, it did... see Great Balls of Fire)!
It was that strange time in Late November in which Southern California watches its temperature drop to the Southern California version of "cold". This means, to both mine and Michelle's imminent satisfaction, I didn't become Captain Sweat in the ol' Rehobeth Hall!
Let's face it, there was enough potential to slip around on the unwashed floor that night as Jerry Lee attracted not only the most age-diverse concert crowd I have ever body surfed over (from the most senior of the senior citizens to the ittiest of the itty bitty babies), but he also attracted a certain congregation of Greasers! Dude, I haven't seen this many Pompadours since I had that Martial Arts fight with all those Evil Elvis impersonators somewhere in the Nevada Desert!
We got to notice all of this primarily because, well, damn it, ol' Jerry Lee was late as hell to his alleged 7:00 PM performance. We passed the time in varied ways, not the least of which was taking pictures of ourselves, all of which Michelle deleted with strings of profanity. I wondered if maybe Grandpa was taking a nap... Actually the HOBA booked another show (a DJ) for right after JLL's show (probably figuring he'd get tired and need a nappy-poo), so I wonder if his starting late was his own personal "Fuck You" to the Establishment. TAKE THAT ELWOOD!!!
The crowd shouted (as crowds are wont to do) when the Band finally came out onto the stage. The five man band (consisting of Jerry's guitarist for 40 years, two more guitarists a Bass player and a Drummer) started the show almost as their own opening act, leaving Jerry's road-worn Grand Baldwin at center stage, shining in black. Each member took a vocal performance of his own (excepting the one lead guitarist whom nobody handed a Mic to) and warmed the crowd up almost as well as their Jager shots. It was interesting to note the band's age. When I saw Bo Diddley years ago, there was Bo (not a spring chicken, or even a Fall Chicken now) surrounded by a bunch of 24 year olds. Not a member of Jerry Lee's band was under 50... many much older.
At 71 Jerry Lee qualifies as "Older" to be sure, and as he finally stepped out onto the stage dressed in Black, he certainly appeared to be past his prime. His hands shook and he sat down as quickly as he could to relax. But then... his fingers touched the keys! My stars and Garter-Belts, this man turned immediately into "The Flash" as his fingers went wild across the ebony and ivory musical highway. Music exploded from his Grand Baldwin to accompany his still smooth, classic voice. He's gained a bit more of a baritone, yes, and he's got a barely detectable rasp (buried way deep), but he sounds fantastic still.
The band, led by the man still known as "The Killer" burned through classics like "Chantilly Lace" and "Breathless" transcending their ages with their energies. In between songs, Jerry Lee became our favorite Uncle and the House of Blues became his living room. There he sat, drinking Coca-Cola and reminiscing as we all listened (as best we could. Some misguided moron in the back was helpful enough to continually shout "Jerry Lee! Hey Jerry Lee!" on an infinite loop so that we wouldn't forget whom it was we were listening to. THANK YOU!). Occasionally he would converse with his band, sometimes just to ask what the audience was saying to him. "Aw, that's the song I was gonna play anyway!" he said once.
It's good to note that he either hasn't lost or has regained his sense of humor. Among his many funny moments came after his completion of a song concerning a girl too young for him. "That one really hits home!" he said. Yeah, we know.
While the show did clock in at a relatively short amount of time, Jerry Lee did manage to treat us to such classics as "Roll Over Beethoven", "High School Confidential", "Boogie Woogie Country Man" and a very cool and melancholy reinvention of Oz' "Over the Rainbow" (which had a bit of a special meaning for us). Sadly one or two cool ones turned up missing from the block, such as "Wild One (Real Wild Child)". So we went wild in his stead.
As the show came to an end, Lewis gave us energetic and purely Rock and Roll renditions of "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On", both of which brought the Standing Room Only crowd to its feet (I guess I have to mean that figuratively. Although we shouted for more, Jerry Lee went Bye-Bye, so Michelle and I did as well. Off to another adventure, hopefully not involving Hair Tonic and Sandy Fifties Gangs.
But the music that night was something to remember... much more so than our late night Martini Grab at the ESPN Zone. Jerry Lee's rich mix of early Rock and Roll (his first single was released back in 1957... almost fifty years ago), Blues, Soul, Gospel, Country and Classical Piano gave us one hell of a Rock-A-Billy experience. He may have aged, and he may show that age, but his piano is his fountain of youth. Seeing Jerry Lee Lewis and being able to say you've seen Jerry Lee Lewis (I tried before, couldn't pronounce the words) is more than just a curious novelty. This is a piece of Rock and Roll History, one worth my gratitude and Four Stars out of Five! Now if you'll excuse me, my Buddy Mike was thrown a Surprise Party this past Saturday and Michelle not only showed up, but also demanded I write a review of the shindig. Strange. I'm not even sure where I'd put that review. Ah, well... if Jimmy Swaggart's cousin can grow up to be Rock Royalty, I guess any damn thing is possible. I'll write that, then I'll go buy some Buck, Spencer, One Life and DS9 on DVD. How does "The Kneumsi Hawk" sound to you? See you in the next reel!!!
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Dear Rock-a-billy... Can't shake the old man!