Posted on 5/24/2012
Concert Blast returned to Day Two of the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival. The team of Mike Arnold, Tom Thompson, and our stand in photographer/helper, Steve Shattuck continued the podcast coverage for Saturday.
Saturday’s podcast festivities included performances from Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Buddy Guy, The Cult, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Al Green, and Jane’s Addiction.
Not only does this podcast include performance clips and our commentary of the performances, but Mike also enjoyed talking with some of the fans in attendance as well as a conversation with the phenomenal blues/rock guitarist, Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Enjoy the blog and podcast review!
Written by Mike Arnold
To begin Day Two of this coverage, we must thank the fabulous Memphis bar-b-que ribs restaurant, Rendezvouzs. They helped sponsor Saturday’s coverage and fed our team before taking in the festival. We started out by getting our game plan of the day in the media trailer. Steve Shattuck had twisted his ankle during our Friday night coverage, so he would not be able to join Tom Thompson and me at every stage, but he planned to do as much as he could. Our first act we went to cover was John Hiatt. Unfortunately John finished early or started earlier that was listed on the schedule. His equipment was being packed up when we arrived.
Tom, Steve, and I then headed to the stage where Kenny Wayne Shepherd was about to perform. We saw Kenny perform a few years earlier at this event and was ready to take in his blues/rock show once again. Kenny thrilled the crowd with his excellent guitar skills consisting a mix of blues and rock. He knows how to get the crowd into his performance by playing to the crowd from one side of the stage to the other. Not only does he play to the crowd, he demands noise from the crowd as he plays his guitar behind his head as well as one handed. He won the crowd over with his signiture show closure, the Jimi Hendrix tune, “Voodoo Chile”. This guy could have easily had an encore if the scheduled had permitted. The crowd of about 8,000 were definitely asking for one.
Once we left the Kenny Wayne Shepherd stage, we walked down to see Son Volt perform. I’ve never seen them and was looking forward to their show. On the way, we saw about 150 people watching this man play the blues on the Blues Shack stage. The artist was Blind Mississippi Morris. A large blind black man sitting on a stool playing blues favorites with a backing band (including someone playing a washboard). We enjoyed this act for a while before heading to see Son Volt.
When we got to the stage where Son Volt was playing, we noticed they were having technical difficulties with their equipment which caused them to start later than scheduled. The restless crowd of about 1,500 was getting thinner as they waited for the band’s crew to get the kinks worked out. Once Son Volt began playing, it took us about three songs for us to make a decision to leave the stage to see what else was happening at the festival. It’s not that they were bad, but when you get an opportunity to perform a music festival with multiple stages going on at the same time, you better be better than average or you’ll lose your audience… which is why we left.
Out of curiosity, Tom and I went to catch a little of the punk band from Atlanta, The Black Lips. They had several hundered people at the stage to watch their show and a few true fans in the crowd that knew all the songs. What was unique about this band was during the first three songs, three different band members sang lead. After about three songs from The Black lips, we decided to see what else was going on at another stage.
As we left, we walked up to a stage with a crowd of about 10,000 where blues legend Buddy Guy was performing with his band. Buddy is 75 years old (or is it young?). Buddy performed better than most performers in their 30′s. He moved about the stage, did not take long breaks in between songs, and showed the large crowd he demands their co-operation of getting into the show as he had them singing along and cheering. Tom and I made our way back to the media trail to watch the show and discovered we had access to watch Buddy’s show from the side of the stage… and we did. Once we got on stage we noticed Buddy Guy left the stage to perform a song while walking through the crowd. Buddy finally made his way back on stage when Tom noticed that sitting in front of us watching the show was Kenny Wayne Shepherd. After the show we had a quick conversation with Kenny Wayne (which you can hear on the podcast).
We went back to the media trailer to cool down a bit, get some snacks and drinks, and to see what was next on our schedule. Next up for us was The Cult, but we had about 30 minutes to burn before they took the stage. We got one of the media escorts to drive us around on his golf cart. The much welcomed breeze was a huge blessing during the heat of the day… Thank you!
Steve and I got settled on the media path while Tom made his way to the photo pit. The Cult took the stage to start their show with a long spooky sounding intro music. Once they started, it was non-stop rock. Lead singer Ian Astbury seldom spoke to the crowd, but when he did, he publicized the new album and talked about how nice the people are in the south. At the end of the show he spoke in a different language, which was sort of disturbing to hear a man from England not speak English. It sounded as if he was speaking some type of Satanic ritual (but what do I know? I definitely have no idea!). They closed the show after performing to a well accepted (but not over enthusiastic crowd of an estimated 6,000).
Next up on the same stage was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The beautiful Grace Potter took the stage rockin’ harder than we ever expected. Grace was playing her Flying-V running and actually jumping all over the stage to about an estimated crowd of 7,000. After about three songs she walked over to the keyboard to perform a couple of more. Tom and I left to catch some of Al Green’s show who was performing at another stage at the same time. Due to Steve’s ankle injury from the previous night, he decided to stay.
Once we made it to the other end of the property where Al Green was performing, we saw the largest crowd of the day and witnessed a terrific show by the Rev. Al Green. Al was decked out in a suit with several backup singers and dancers. Al performed not only his hits, but hits from others during the 70′s. Al would talk between songs while the band was ready to switch gears to perform a partial song to get the crowd singing. Al closed his show with his hit, “Love and Happiness” and he left the stage and hopped in his limousine while the band was still closing out the song. The crowd yelled for more, but Al was on his way out of the park.
Tom and I returned to the other end of the property to meet up with Steve and to catch the headliner of the night, Jane’s Addiction. The crowd was growing as it became closer to show time. While Tom and Steve both decided to be in the photo pit, I spoke to several fans in the crowd (which is always fun for our podcast). One man I spoke to was a big Pink Floyd fan. As we were talking about the Roger Waters tour, we heard the intro music for Jane’s Addiction, which was Pink Floyd’s “Welcme To The Machine”. When the stage lights appeared, there was lead singer Perry Farrell in a pose position preparing to sing the opening line of the first song of the evening. On the stage were also two ladies swinging from the light rafters wearing these skirts about 15 feet long. There was also a tall ladder on the stage that had a monster type beast clibing up and down trying to attack one of the ladies (Strange!). In the back of the stage was a statue type figure of two nude women. There was also a huge video screen as a backdrop with another video screen on stage left. Guitarist Dave Navarro strutted around the stage in the dimmed stage light shirtless and covered with tattoos. The first three songs were very theatrical and I thought we were in for a treat… Until Perry Farrell decided to talk to the crowd with his vulgarity. Not only was his language obscene, but so was the Hard “R” rated sex film clips shown on the video screens. Perry continued to talk to the crowd with more profanity and very obscene topics. The more he talked to the crowd, the thinner the crowd became… and we helped. We had enough and was ready to call it quits for the evening.
As usual we had a great time during this yearly festival and we thank the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival for having us back to cover this annual event. We also want to thank the Rendezvous Restaurant in Memphis for sponsoring our Saturday podcast and to those who helped us with the Kickstarter fundraiser campaign to allow us cut out a lot of our expenses. A very special thank you goes out to our top donors Vivian Johnson and Karen Weaver.
Written by Mike Arnold
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Tags: Al Green, Beale Street Music Festival, Blind Mississippi, Buddy Guy, concert blast, concertblast, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Jane’s Addiction, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Memphis in May, Mike Arnold, podcast, Son Volt, Steve Shattuck, The Black Lips, The Cult, Tom Thompson