Ken Boothe at Littlefield
Ken Boothe is one of the legends of Jamaican music and has been performing for more than fifty years. Of course I was impressed by his singing and showmanship, just as I expected to be. What really surprised me is how high he could jump. I guess performing helps keep you in shape! Perhaps I should have seen it coming, though. His former recording partner (and former neighbor) Stranger Cole gave an energetic performance at a Dig Deeper show just a year and a half ago. Music doesn't fade I guess.
I hadn't realized at first that I had seen the backing band before. Their name is Crazy Baldhead and they are sort of a ska supergroup with members of The Slackers, The Scofflaws, and a bunch of other bands (including Leftöver Crack, yes really). Sure enough, they backed Stranger Cole too. I thought those guys looked familiar!
Rye Coalition at The Bell House
The band called Rye Coalition has existed for twenty years and everyone in the band is my age. Wow, that's sobering. I'm not sure I had even seen a live band twenty years ago unless you count classical orchestras or that one Monkees concert my cousins dragged me to in the mid-80s. I don't think those should count.
Rye Coalition would probably be called punk if they were the least bit pretentious, say if they dressed the part or were political at all. They have that ability to project a sense of sloppiness and wildness while actually playing carefully-crafted songs which you see in experienced punk bands. It's like they're fusing hardcore, metal, punk, and all sorts of loud rock while keeping the resulting musical frankenstein under control. They are not the wildest band in the world but they sure have lots of energy. Their philosophy must be to let the crowd go crazy, and I'm guessing this works out very nicely for them.
The Sonics at The Bell House
I'm impressed when a band keeps going for five years. The Sonics have been going at it for fifty years and they still sound great! I assume they took a few breaks during the last half-century to grow up and have kids and whatever, but anyway, I was expecting at least the singing to have lost some energy over time. Not at all -- each of their three of their lead singers nailed it and the crowd loved every minute of it. Some people may have loved it a little too much since there were several fights at the show! Rock 'n roll?
Considering that they sell out bigger venues than The Bell House it was rather nice of these guys to play a benefit show for Norton Records. They also let Norton co-founder (and A-Bones drummer) Mirriam Linna play on a song. Yeah, she had a good night.
Stranger Cole at The Bell House
How in the world does Stranger Cole have that much energy on stage? One of the greats of ska and rocksteady in Jamaica, Stranger Cole recorded his first single in 1963. That makes him roughtly one billion years old (though he claims to be 18) so how does he have that much energy?!