Before I delve into this extensive blog full of delight and gratitude about last weekend’s Pit Bull gala, let me just get one thing out of the way:
Lucky Five. Remember that band name. Lucky Five could become the best rock-n-roll band in the country. I won’t waste time describing them, only to say that if The Allman Brothers had a secret love child with Gnarles Barkley, Lucky Five would blow it off the stage at battle-of-the-bands. For the time being, Lucky Five belongs solely to Charlotte as their darling local band. But if and when they tour, watch out!
Okay, in the wake of the posting of my recent video Pit Bull Rescue Woman, I am aptly impressed by the Sara Enos, the director of American Pit Bull Foundation. This was a large, multi-dimensional event — a 6-act music festival/fundraiser that included vendors and booths outside the venue. (Amos’ Southend.) Although Sara has a bright cadre of volunteers, it’s clear that the buck stops with her on nearly everything. She handles it flawlessly, and pleasantly with no drama.
While driving me to the airport, Sara mentioned to me how “gracious” all the artists and celebrity guests were. I had to let her know that she was the reason we were on our best behavior.
“We artists are like children,” I said. “We need structure.” When we know what is expected, and when the situation is organized & professional, we don’t want to be the cause of it all devolving into chaos.
(Somewhere in there, I think, love of Pit Bulls may also have something to do with it.
I refer to “celebrity guests.” Indeed, I was a little starstruck. Pinups for Pitbulls was there. I found myself circling their table incognito several times before working up the nerve to approach them. I’m normally not so shy, and we already know each other from our online association. But I thought I should change into my stage attire before I met them personally. Plus, I wanted pictures, and I feel awkward asking for such things. It was sort of funny the way I went into my head just then. (It must have been that Southern humidity.)
The Pinups are so sweet you wouldn’t believe it. Lovely, bright, and committed to the dogs. They have wild & crazy tattoos on the outside, down-to-earth wholesomeness on the inside. The three ladies who were representing each have husbands serving in the military — one whose husband was coming home for R&R from Afghanistan the very next day.
Also there was Shorty Rossi, to MC the event. Just in from Nicaragua, en route to Vegas, with his dog Hercules (and assistant Juan), Shorty the Pit Boss was in splendid form for such hard travel. A professional, with a sense of humor.
I mention Ken Foster (author) in a previous blog. He’s from New Orleans, with tales to tell about canines and hurricanes. I had the pleasure of dining with him the night before, so I got a taste of the human voice behind his writing.
And, oh yes, the bands. Top notch, every single one of them, leaving me with the impression that Charlotte has a brilliant music scene.
I’m listening to The Situationals right now. A fine work — excellent songs. But like so many bands, they have more power on the live stage. Loud, with a fine female vocalist and a pair of aggressive Americana guitarists. (I thank Mike for his tuner, ’cause I had no room for mine in my carry-on luggage. Sorry I kept it up there on stage, Mike. I hadn’t expected Shorty to introduce me while I was tuning up.)
Jared Allan & Company. If I had known what they sounded like, I would have asked to sit in. Jared is a singing voice to be reckoned with. (Not many can get away with covering Ray LaMontagne.) With mandolin accompaniment, and being from the South, Jared’s brand of acoustic Americana makes me envious. It makes me wish my family had kept me near the Ozarks where I was born. (I can strain that loose association all I want, but damn me, I’m a Yankee!)
Charlotte has a Reggae band called Jah Fishermen. While they jammed, Situational Mike and I sat outside ruminating over how difficult Reggae Music is to play. It’s simple sounding, but it’s hard to play. Most musicians can’t. They think they can, but they can’t. Jah Fishermen get it right. And a good reggae band is always a peak spot on any multi-band bill.
Porcelain Mary is temporarily deserted by their Germany-bound lead singer, so they were unable to play their originals. Nevertheless, in true “the-show-must-go-on” ethic, they plowed through a set of classic rock covers–as a power trio–including Big Head Todd’s “Bittersweet.” Two things: 1)This guitar is good enough to pull it off. 2)I’ve thought that some of Big Head Todd’s music would be better with a less-busy rhythm section, as this one is.
My own set? I frickin’ love playing solo on big stages — especially to an audience who is waiting for particular songs to sing along. (That would be “Pit Bull Blues” and “Pit Bull Rescue Woman”) The question is always, “But will they like my other songs.” I think this audience did. Having been invited to come so far, I really wanted to please. So I didn’t hold anything back. It was honestly the best I could do.
One last thing: Thank you to Sara’s family for the bed in which I got my best night’s sleep in months.
And I haven’t even yet begun to talk about the things I learned at the booths outside the concert. Stay tuned.