Gentle Reader, I listen to music constantly; ear buds in, I wrap myself in the musical arms of whichever style and artist I’m in the mood for. Often, and alarmingly, I sing along, although my dulcet tones would sound more appropriate coming from rusty machinery or a bag of broken glass thrown out a window.But there’s something about live music. The give and take between artist and audience. The shared affection of large groups for performer. Nuance and spontaneity that cannot exist in recordings.
It’s been many years since I’ve been to a concert and I didn’t remember how much fun a live performance can be—it’s like when you reunite with someone after many years apart; you’ve forgotten how much you actually love being around them.Last weekend The Kid and I went to the Ritz, in Raleigh, to see Shakey Graves, a blues/rock/country troubadour. He had two opening acts.
The first was Kate Rhudy, a folksinger and songwriter. Her music was entertaining, but, her red-headed bass player stole the segment. He had the most magnificent mullet I’ve ever seen. It was haircut, fashion statement, and lifestyle choice. It deserves its own fan club.The next band was Illiterate Light. Historically, opening acts are place-holders. They are something to get through until the guy you came to see comes on.
Then drummer Jake Cochran and guitarist Jeff Gorman performed.
Firstly, they were a two-man band, which takes a particular kind of bravery and skill; the fewer music-makers onstage, the more attention is paid to each. During their first song, I decided they weren’t bad. Then they went into their second number, and along with the entire crowd, I watched it with my jaw on the ground. These guys were amazing. I could feel the delighted astonishment that flowed through the crowd. We were all musical Madame Curie’s and they were our discovery—we were instant fans.Cochran had an endearing charm, the cheeky good humor that drummers are famous for, and the ability of the best classic rockers. Gorman’s guitar riffs and electronic sound manipulation had us all cheering and gasping in near-unison. Their singing and performances were glorious and so full of emotion, that at one point I was afraid the boys might have a stroke. Their cover of Neil Young’s Vampire Blues was so exciting and intense I wanted a cigarette when it was over.They’ve recently been signed by a major recording label which will soon release the first single. I will keep you informed with date and info.
They were so good I felt like I was in Hamburg, watching the Beatles in 1962. They were so good, I wasn’t sure Shakey could top them.
I needn’t have worried about him following Illiterate Light. He came out and his talent, skill, and charisma blew us all away.As musical “All About Eve” scenarios faded from my head, Graves played his first song, Roll The Bones with guitar and the one-man, foot-operated percussion instrument he’d designed and used during his tenure as the officially designated busker on the Mumford and Sons tour.He played songs like Counting Sheep and Kids These Days from his new album, Can’t Wake Up. The stage backdrop was the beautiful color-saturated artwork he’d created for its cover. It was at various times hard-rocking, funny, and touching. His sweet yet funny song, Dearly Departed had everybody singing along. It was a thrill seeing him performing the first tune of his I’d ever heard, Late July.
During Shakey’s set, The Kid smiled at me and said, “I’ll bet you have your column for tomorrow, don’t you?”I just smiled and nodded my head along to the music.
Thanks for your time.