My outdoor festival season ended this weekend. This was the 3rd year for Fortober Fest, an end of season downtown street party in Fort Collins, produced by the Downtown Business Association (Colorado Brewers Festival, New West Fest). Highlights from this year included the Young Ancients, Sofie Reed, Soul School, Romeo Delight (a live tribute to Van Halen), Whiskey Blanket, and the Burroughs from Greeley, among the fourteen bands picked to celebrate bikes, beers, bands and the end to the summer.
It really does take a lot to stop me in my tracks and make me listen… even harder to make me turn around while I’m walking off – busy with some activity or another when I’m working a show. That’s more or less true for nearly all of us working live music events for a living. We see and hear a lot of bands and at least for me, most of the time I hear them in the background.
I feel like the guy who walked in at the end of the party, when I say I just discovered Johnny Burroughs. Nothing online will prepare you for the energy of a Burroughs’ live show. I had to be convinced to book them sight-unseen, based purely on their reputation with some friends of mine in the scene. I’ll need no coaxing from here on out – I’m all in, at least so far as the live show goes.
The only weakness I see with the band is there’s no need for two guitarists, both of whom are adequate, but are both doing more or less the same thing, and neither of whom really shined in their role. The four piece horn section worked extremely well as an ensemble unit. The husband-wife rhythm section was there – laying down a foundation that never once got in the way of the exceptional arrangements that Johnny danced and sang over. A trio of backup singers would be nice also.
It as an Otis Redding song that caused me to stop. It was the engaging smile, red hair, dance moves, passion and pure soul that held me in place for hits by James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and others. This ain’t no velveeta cheese on wonder bread cover band in a Holiday Inn dressing up and playing for an after work middle age suburban audience. This was raw, visceral, emotional, ass shakin’, instantaneously crowd pleasing soul. I will NEVER be surprised should I see panties being tossed at this guy from the audience (they still do that don’t they?).
Any of us old enough to have seen Michael or Stevie in the late 70s and early 80s would be transported… Add in elements of the likes of Tom Jones or Sammy Davis, Jr in their day and the ghosts are there, lurking in the mannerisms Johnny puts on full display inside his tight space on stage, sandwiched between the horns and guitars… far too little space to contain this new, bright, smiling, happy as hell to be there song and dance entertainer.
PS… the record really does not do the band’s show justice – this is a band meant for the stage, not the studio (at least for now).
VIDEO PICK OF THE WEEK
Two videos this week… one from the closing band at Fortober Fest, Romeo Delight A Van Halen Tribute, and one from my pal Chris Daniels and his band the Kings with Freddi Gowdy on Rocky Mountain PBS. Enjoy.
Jill Sobule “Too Cool To Fall in Love” from Things Here Are Different (1990)
Wendy Woo “Wide Awake and Dreaming” from Wide Awake and Dreaming (1999)
(N) Strange Americans “Rocks Rolls” from That Kind of Luster (2014)
Von Stomper “Mississippi Woman” from Von Stomper (2014)
Johnny Hickman “Another Road” from Hickman-Dalton Gang (2011)
Crucifix “The Dreamer” from Acid Reign (2013)
Fafi aka 3Percent “6 Dayz A Week” from Groove or Die (2009)
The Fray “Hurricane” from Helios (2014)
Churchill “The War Within” from War Within EP (2013)
Felonius Smith “Delivery Man” from Before the Rooster Crows (2014)
Sofie Reed “These Blues” from Red Hen (2014)
Keith Oxman “All Dudes” from Doing All Right (2009)
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” from Greatest Hits (1990)
Poco “A Good Feeling to Know” from The Essential Poco (2005)
(D) SHEL “You Could Be My Baby” from You Could Be My Baby (2014)
Tennis “Never Work for Free” from Ritual In Repeat (2014)
(N) Drew Schofield “150 Million (-1)” from 150 Million (-1) (2014)
(N) Reed Foehl “Four Lanes” from Lost in the West (2014)
Five Iron Frenzy “It Was A Dark & Stormy Night” from Engine of a Million Plots (2013)
Eddie Turner “I’m Tore Down” from The Turner Diaries (2006) Jesse Furay Lynch “I Wish It Would Rain” (2014)
Jim Stranahan Little BIG BAND “Blues and a Half” from MIGRATION TO HIGHER GROUND (2014)