Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Stray Cat Lee Rocker

A tiny venue, the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH.  It seats around 240.  I'd say about 50 people actually sat in the hardback chairs edged right up to the tiny stage.  But sometimes bigger is not always better.

When the Stray Cats hit the charts in the early '80's, I was an easily swayed not quite teenager who was won over by songs of teenage arrogance.  Ah, come on.  That's what they were.  Fast cars, fast women and rockin' music.  What made it different from the rest of the Top 40?  That string slappin' bass.  The Cats resurrected rock-a-billy, redesigning the world's love affair with twang and pop.  I bought into it then.

I was resold tonight.  None of us in that hall were teenagers any more.  But watching Lee Rocker play his bass, I rediscovered a little bit of that teenage awe.  Perhaps for different reasons...

I saw a musician love his instrument.  The four band members all had a wonderful time, still egging one another on to greater, faster heights as they explored the evening's riffs.  I listened to a voice a little mellower with age, but still very fun to hear.  The Stray Cats always wrote lyrics with more than a bit of tongue in cheek, and witnessing a bit of bantering on stage, there's a greater appreciation of where those tunes came from.

I bought the mp3 of the old album, and I can hear the youth in the studio tracks.  But Lee Rocker and his band have not lost that joy--the spark that brought them Grammy nominations and millions of record sales.

So, yes, The Stray Cat Lee Rocker can still deliver an awesome set.  The crowd leapt to their feet for the final songs.  Applause resounded amongst the rafters.

When we sat down three rows and about five feet from the stage, I leaned over and whispered, "That's got to be a good indication.  No chicken wire."

I'm glad to say, I was right.  Sometimes you don't need to visit a venue that seats thousands to find a night filled with killer talent.  Sometimes you only need to find a renovated barn.

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