Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Chieftains 1-22-2005

Always Great: the Chieftains at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

The Irish toast says "May the sound of happy music, And the lilt of Irish laughter, fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after." That toast was fulfilled and then some at the Performing Arts Center on Friday night as the venerable, Irish band the Chieftains kept up their string of excellent concerts in the hall. Never ones to rest on their laurels or coast along on clichés the young fellas added a twist here and a dance there to freshen and spice the old tunes, some two hundred years old but shining still. You could say the same about the original four members, in their forty-third year: Sean Keane, Matt Molloy, Kevin Coneff and the tireless energizer Paddy Moloney. The houseful of die-hard Chieftains fans would have been content to hear the gems from their first eight albums but the band just keeps expanding their horizons and now calls the globe its home.
Brought along to knock the bar up a notch or two were the fabulous Pilatzke brothers, Jon and Nathan who when setting tap shoe to stage caused excitement to flow like crackling electricity. Also the intense and talented Spanish gaita (pipes) player from Galicia, Carlos Nunez with his brothers Xurxo and Pancho tossed some Spanish soul into the heady musical mix. New Chieftain harpist Triona Marshall had some huge shoes to fill, replacing original member Derek Bell but in her understated but powerful way did splendidly. Add master Irish dancers Cara Butler and Danny Golden and even Scottish piper Glen Thompson and you have one fine show from start to finish. The festivities started, as promised, with "Brian Baru's March" that started simply, then reached a fine and strong brew, reminding al l of the reason why the Chieftains have reigned supreme for these four decades. Kevin Coneff sang "the Flower of Sweet Strabane" which lead into "Shady Grove." Here, the Pilatzkes stirred the audience with the first of just many demonstrations of their unique Canadian step dance. Jon Pilatzke pulled yeoman's duty, playing fiddle and jumping to his young feet to join brother Nathan and amaze the roaring crowd. When Cara Butler and the King of Dance Danny Golden strutted their stuff too it almost made you forget the music but only for a moment.
It wasn't all adrenaline; there were some poignant moments too, as when Paddy Moloney played the achingly beautiful "Derek's Tune" in tribute to the late and great harpist of the band. Moreover, the other old gents showed that they are much more than guys in a band when they took on solos that soared. Sean Keane did a trio including "O'Farrel's Welcome to Limerick," "Kiss the Maid," and "Steam Packet" that clearly showed why he was voted instrumentalist of the year in his native land. Triona Marshall lived up to the high Bell-standards on the exquisite "O'Carolan" and the power-packed Carlos Nunez could barely contain his enthusiasm through an astounding "Concerto de Aranjuez" and "Maneo" on his pipes and whistle. Brothers Pancho on bouzouki and Xurxo on drums turned the band into "El Chieftains" for this sweet set. The fun continued on towards the two hour mark with Kevin doing a fine job on "Mo Ghile Mear" and Matt Molloy enchanting the house with a trio of flute gems including one drawn from Irish selkie mythology and "Molly Ahern," and Colonel Frazier." "The Stone" was a delightful dance number with both Pilatzke brothers and the gam-erous Cara Butler playing off the two suitors. The Nunez family followed with "Amanecer" and "Guadelupe" as hall temperatures rose to a feel-good temperature. The finales were fun and full of great dancing: the Pilatzkes just defied the limits of the human anatomy, the Scottish bagpiper Glen Thompson showed and piped most beautifully and the Chieftains turned each band member loose on an extended "Mrs. McCloud's Reel" and encores of "Mountain Road," "Banshee," and "Sligo Maid." They are amazing, they are tireless, they are ever-flowing fountains of good cheer and music, they are the Chieftains.

Concord Jazz March 11, 2005

Concord Jazz Festival Dazzles Cerritos

by Glen Creason

The Concord Jazz Festival swung through Cerritos over the weekend; a little sleeper show of sensational singing and fresh talent. The California Jazz label's vocalist cornerstones of the evening were Oleta Adams, Karrin Allyson, Sara Gazarek and the redoubtable Diane Schuur. I place them in an alpha list since each was so fine in their own right, bringing diverse but great talent to each number in the full night of great music.
Karrin Allyson hosted and did a yeoman's job of joining in duets and introducing the stars. Her show opening reading of the Joni Mitchell classic "Help Me" set the tone of an evening of excellent musical taste and challenges to the vocal chords. Still there seems to be no note Ms. Allyson cannot reach as she demonstrated in the sweet "Over and Over Again" and a goose-bump rising duet on "Imagine" with Oleta Adams. Miss Allyson is a singer who should be sought out and savored for her intelligence and excellent voice.
The sweet-faced newcomer Sara Gazarek, just a few moons this side of graduation from the Thornton School of Music at USC followed, providing hope for the future. La Gazarek, like some footballers from her alma mater seems ready for the big time. Unshaken by the big crowd and awe-inspiring talent sharing the stage with her, young Sara showcased a voice like fresh honey, sweetly spreading over fine songs like "the Masquerade Is Over," a delicious "Too Young to Go Steady" (generously loaned her by Karrin Allyson) and a knocked out "Never Will I Marry" with a quarter million dollar arrangement. Tis a shame her CD isn't out yet since she probably could have moved a few hundred at intermission. Take it from an old Bruin. This Trojan is a winner.
Oleta Adams finished the first half which is good since her seemingly limitless pipes are a tough act to follow. The beautifully positive Oscar Brown Jr. song "As Long As You Are Living" stood like a beacon of hope over the hall and the light "Soldato Samba" sent the giddy crowd to the lobby wanting more. Ms. Adams started part two where she left off with "Deed I Do," "New York State of Mind" the stirring anthem "Get There" and probably the highlight of a fantastic show in "Circle of One" with Karrin Allyson and Sara Gazarek joining joyfully.
Of course, many came to hear Diane "Deedles" Schuur and she did not disappoint, bringing the house down with "Deedles Blues," an absolutely exquisite "When October Goes," the languid masterpiece of "Louisiana Sunday Afternoon" a sweet "So In Love" with her husband adding support and a bluesy duet with Oleta of "Stormy Monday." What Deedles does with her voice is impossible to put on paper but suffice it to say that many in the hall listened with ears open and mouths agape. If you were to make a Sideways comparison of this group you would have to say Oleta is a fine, rich burgundy; Karrin Allyson a wonderful vintage of Cabernet, Sara Gazarek an outstanding, delicate Pinot Noir and Diane Schuur a fine champagne. All of the ladies joined to ride this thoroughbred of a show to the finish. "That's All" showed a lot about the camaraderie and common love of the music in this quartet as they sang and smiled broadly at their opportunity to share the stage. An encore of Al Green's classic "Let's Stay Together" voiced hopes in a reunion next year. Certainly the delighted Cerritos house added their voices to a vote for a return of these fine artists.

Don McLean 3-30-2005

Another Don McLean at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

There were actually two Don McLeans at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday evening. One was the legend of “the American Pie guy” and his silken baritone used in crooning classic American pop songs of the 70’s. The other is a wise, musicologist lugging a huge mixed bag of styles and songs from across many a genre. As a songwriter McLean breathes the rarified air of a mountaintop of American iconography few have ever scaled. As a musicologist he is amazingly erudite and skilled at styles as disparate as country blues and Tin Pan Alley pop. We must face the fact that McLean no longer can hold those pristine notes in the higher registers that once made songs like “Winterwood,” “And I Love You So” and “Vincent” so precious. Yet, let us of the boomer generation cast the first stone in that regard. Don McLean gave a pretty fine concert in the big hall and while he did not sound like 1972’s version he did get the job done with style and verve.
He warmed up with a pair of Buddy Holly gems “Maybe Baby” and the lesser known “Fool’s Paradise” with more than able assistance from his excellent guitarist Pat Severs, bass man Ralph Childs and fine pianist Tony Migliore. The show had variety but Sever’s strong guitar solos gave it a decided lean toward rock and roll on this night, especially on songs like “La La Love You,” “Tulsa Time,” “Superman’s Ghost,” and even an amped up “Jerusalem.” Migliore offered the delicate touch needed on sweet ballads, especially the classics like “Winterwood,” “And I Love You So,” “Vincent” and a strong “Crying” that paid real homage to Roy Orbison.
There were nice surprises along with the expected and demanded Don McLean staples. “I Could Write a Book” was refreshing, “Have You Seen Me” was crisply done and a short Josh White Jr. medley including “Where Were You Baby” and “Uncle Sam Says” were really and truly wonderful in their context and execution by the versatile Mr. McLean. Strangely enough however, the emotional highlight of this show was a brand new song, tucked unceremoniously into the tail end of the show. It was not identified but apparently will be on the upcoming CD. The tune, possibly called “Under an Indian Sun” was a deeply affecting song about the loss of his parents which clearly demonstrated that his genius has not dulled over these thirty years in the limelight. Of course the show ended with a rousing and crowd pleasing “American Pie” that Don McLean made tasty with plenty of energy. For a song voted the fifth most popular in the twentieth century which has been played almost as many times as the national anthem the happy crowd sang it not only word for word but note for note.The show was opened by an accomplished songwriter in his own right Stephen Bishop. Despite the absence of his drummer in the quintet Bishop soldiered on and gave the big crowd satisfaction with his harmonious hits from the 80’s with a few added attractions. Stephen Bishop continues to sport a fine voice which reached peaks in his standards like the sweet “It Might Be You,” “Hello” “Save It for a Rainy Day,” a nicely tweaked “On and On” and the powerful “Separate Lives.” Bishop seems to stay within his game and utilize his solid voice which is as comfortable as a corduroy blazer. His set was very well received by the large and enthusiastic crowd.

Lavay Smith 4-22-2005

Lavay Smith: a Triumphant Homecoming at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers may be best known in the Bay area but after this weekend’s double dates in Cerritos they will have fully conquered the southland. The sultry Ms. Smith who originally hails from nearby Lakewood packs a vocal wallop and ain't too bad on the eyes either. With a voice so thick and sweet you could pour it on waffles the little lady enchanted and electrified a packed cabaret and dance floor in the Sierra Room at the Performing Arts Center. The Red Hot Skillet Lickers are absolutely top-drawer and were given lots of generous space to shine. Pianist Chris Siebert, trombonist Danny Armstrong, trumpeter Allen Smith and the double sax dynamite of Charles McNeal plus local legend Rickey Woodard roared through many a Jazz style-line without as much as single dip in the high octane sound.
The band warmed the room with Illinois Jacquet’s “Symphony in Sid” and Lester Young’s “Tickle Toe” that primed the time for Lavay Smith who busted out “Miss Brown to You” showcasing her sensuous and elastic pipes. Ms. Smith can swing it as they did in “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” and she can finesse it as in the buttery “Romance in the Dark.” The amazing talents of the group were clearly illustrated by the combination of “Evil Gal Blues” dripping with R&B gravy and the swingingly dulcet “Blue Skies” that each had wonderful appeal. By this time the dance floor at the rear of the room was crowded and stayed active as the band finished the first half with “I Want a Little Boy” and the bouncy Ray Charles jewel “Jumpin’ In the Morning.” Despite her wonderfully rich voice Lavay Smith left wide-open spaces in the arrangements for the excellent band to stretch their musical legs. It was a great idea on both sides since these guys are all superior players who spur the lady higher in her vocals. The second half was more of the good stuff including another pair of tasty instrumentals: “Embryo” and the remarkable Quincy Jones chart of Horace Silver’s “Doodlin’” which was originally done for Ray Charles. Throughout the performance the group mastered disparate American forms including Kansas City R&B in the case of a spectacular, encyclopedic piano solo by Chris Siebert, which may have been “Roll the Boogie.” Not to be outdone by the fellas Lavay reminded the hall of who the headliner was by practically melting the microphone on “I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl,” “Big Fine Daddy,” and “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” that made a few guys in the room take off their jackets to cool down. “Deed I Do” was an example of the fine Jazz roots evident in the ensemble and Ms. Smith’s expert singing was spiced liberally by the wild sax interplay of McNeal and Woodard. With the room all aglow and folks crowding the dance floor the truly Red Hot Skillet Lickers and Lady fired up the old gem “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It was a perfect end to an action packed evening of rhythm rediscovery and tripping the light fantastic.

Harry Chapin Remembered 4-29-2005

Celebrating Harry With the Chapin Family at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

It was an invigorating and refreshing evening of optimism on Friday night at the Performing Arts Center as many talented members of the Chapin family performed a show titled “Harry Chapin: a Celebration in Song.” It was much more than a musical medley of the singer’s hits but a deeply affecting reminder of one of our time’s most thoroughly decent men and generous artists. Harry Chapin, on the surface was famous over a decade for his musical narratives that are often called folk songs even though that term doesn’t quite fit for him. A man of tremendous energy, endless political optimism and great courage his life was cut short by an auto accident in 1981. His music, once decried as didactic and downbeat continues to gain stature in the history of American pop but his reputation as a sterling human being is chiseled in stone. The songs have worn well and lesser known tunes seem to have ripened into genuine beauties, the kind of sweet message songs that just seem so common sense and close to the heart they never stop making the listener feel better. Of course, the goal of Harry Chapin’s life was to make the planet a better place and on this night it was more than evident that he succeeded beyond his dreams.
It was Harry’s good fortune that his family is so very talented and dedicated to his music and causes. Because his two brothers are accomplished artists, because his daughter is a fine singer in her own right and because his nieces, the excellent Chapin Sisters comprise a most formidable musical juggernaut this evening was truly special.
It should also be mentioned early on that Big John Wallace, constant bass-man and anointed member of the Chapin musical family was on stage and in tip-top shape. From the bright tones of “Sunday Morning Sunshine” to the bittersweet finale of “Circle” the Chapins played and sang inspired music, not all of it Harry’s but all pure Chapin vintages. The audience at Cerritos was one of the most intensely connected ever and often sang verses like they had been rehearsed. They asked for and got the ones everyone remembers like “WOLD,” “Taxi” “Mr. Tanner” and the masterpiece “Cats in the Cradle.” Certainly hankies had to be produced but much of the emotion came from insight and not schmaltz. Case in point was the ensemble doing “The Story of a Life” that had plenty of sentimental punch. There were moments to cherish in songs lesser known but powerful this quarter century later. The singing of “Tangled Up Puppet” by daughter Jennifer was simply superb with lyrics about the spaces between parents and teenagers that certainly mean a lot more today. The silky “And I Feel Like I Need You Again” by neice Abigail produced genuine goosebumps. There were lighter moments as in the lovely ladies lilting “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend,” a ripe “Thirty-thousand lbs. of Bananas” and many stories that showed Harry to be fully human but uncommonly brave and wise. “All My Life’s a Circle” is a wonderful song and the family handled it with love and good humor, allowing each musician to take a round. Yet the lyrics at the heart of the song said made a statement that seemed so perfect for this show “It seems like I’ve been here before/ I can’t remember when/ But I have this funny feeling/ That we’ll all be together again.” Harry Chapin took the spotlight that shone on his music and turned it around to illuminate the serious problems of poverty and hunger. His music and his foundation World HungerYear live on to better humankind. See www.worldhungeryear.org

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Creedence Clearwater Revisted 9-2-2005

Creedence Clearwater Revisited-Plus at the Cerritos Center

By Glen Creason

A funny thing happened to the feel-good, full-throttle Creedence concert at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend. The re-tooled band has established a local rep for high-energy, seamlessly rip-snorting sets that rarely cool below red-hot. These pop-musical gems are culled from the evergreen song chest of 1960’s legend-group Creedence Clearwater Revival and just keep on chooglin’ after all these years. On this Cerritos occasion CCR did it all and then some. The stayed close to the golden vest and gave the crowd everything they wanted and everything the band had for a solid hour and a half. Yet, they forgot a little something too.
The current grouping includes originals Stu Cook and “Cosmo” Clifford along with long-time dead-on lead-singer John “Bulldog” Tristao, peripatetic keyboardist Steve Gunner and most valuable newcomer, guitarist Tal “T-Bone” Morris. Morris elevated the evening from a greatest-hits romp to a master’s course in guitar-riff improvisation. Each of the songs, fine on their own were brightened, expanded musically and given an extra glint by this young guitar master. They opened with “Born on the Bayou,” “Green River,” “Lodi,” and a “Commotion” that was all of that with some guitar bravura tossed in for a dressing. The trademark Creedence southern gumbo sound resonated throughout the hall and got groups to their feet in the first half hour. After one or two songs, no one really cares that the big Fogerty brother is no longer in the group and the songs become the message once again.
The rollicking bayou pulse continued to pump fresh blood into “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” an ecstatic, extended “Suzy Q” complete with Morris’ labyrinthine solo and “Hey Tonight” without a hint of slowing to a trot. “Long as I Can See the Light” was as close to introspective as the boys got. From the momentary lull in full-throttle the band idled for a second and then roared to the finish through “Down on the Corner,” %u2

Delbert McClinton and Marcia Ball 9-10-2005

Delbert and Marcia Do Us Proud at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

The stars all seemed to be aligned at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend for something special. The folks who gathered to hear Delbert McClinton and Marcia Ball lugged fairly heavy hearts, still thinking of their countrymen and women in distress down in New Orleans and Mississippi. It was serendipity that on this weekend we in Cerritos could be treated to some sweet Louisiana sounds from the best of the best. What happened in the big hall on this night was a perfect example of the power of music and the value of such sung from the heart. It was a wonderfully refreshing, invigorating and healing evening based directly in the soul of the Crescent City and played with a hopeful energy that is the strong pulse of American music.
Marcia Ball opened the show and blew the lid off the glittering hall with her barrelhouse piano playing and head tossed back rhythm and blues singing. Without hesitation she announced “my heart is in Louisiana” and offered sentiment for the inspiration of her show from “our best city.” Thus declared the band launched into “Rockin’ Is Our Business” and did not look back. Ms. Ball sitting cross-legged at her electric piano demonstrated just how fine the New Orleans sound can be when touched by a master’s hand. She romped through “Red Beans,” a sultry “Just Kiss Me,” “Down the Road” and “Crawfishin” without hardly taking a breath. Pat Boyack on guitar sent up sizzling guitar leads alongside the Ball operations on the 88’s and the crowd just rocked like they were on Bourbon street during Mardi Gras. The good times took a time out when the lanky lady mournfully performed Randy Newman’s oh so poignant “Louisiana 1927” with its baleful refrain “they’re trying to wash us away, they’re trying to wash us away.” All the goose bumps of watching the week’s devastation returned. A standing ovation lasted so long, the band had to eventually launch into the good-timey “Let Me Play With Your Poodle” that put the Louisiana street car back on track once again. The modest Marcia Ball took her bows amidst another standing O but gave up the stage to Delbert McClinton.
Normally, you would pity the act that would follow a performer who finished their show with two standing ovations but McClinton seemed unfazed and just leapt over a bar that had been set way up there. Opening with his trademark bluesy rockers “Take Me to the River,” “Shaky Ground,” “Maybe Someday Baby,” and a string of southern soaked R&B beauties he hardly took a breath save to mop the sweat for the first hour. Highlights included “I Had a Real Good Time” from his newest CD and the lament “Your Memory, Me and the Blues.” The McClinton band is truly extraordinary, lead by baby-faced guitar assassin Rob McNelley, sax-blaster Donald Wise and keyboardist Red Young. They played at a roof-lifting level for a hefty two hour set which was nobly dedicated to the great Gatemouth Brown who passed on Saturday. Delbert answered the calls from the audience with “Read Me My Rights,” “Giving It Up for Your Love,” and “Every time I Roll the Dice” but got his own standing ovations on a duet with Marcia Ball of “Crying Time” and the deep-fried “Going Back to Louisiana” spiced Cajun-style by McNeeley’s guitar. The ecstatic crowd, despite the late hour refused to let the band go. Encores of “Bye Bye Baby,” “Wild Weekend” and “Fine and Healthy Thing” were just hot fresh New Orleans beignet on top of a very filling musical feast.

Ronnie Laws/ Earl Klugh 9-17-2005

Ronnie Laws Rips It Up at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

The smooth jazz paint, once slathered over any number of indefinable pop sounds seems to be the proverbial red hanky waved in front of a charging bull lately in Cerritos. Ronnie Laws and even show-opening Earl Klugh cranked the volume and carved some funky edges up onto their show at the Performing Arts Center. Smooth Jazz, no. Very much amplified Funk-Jazz yes, in the case of Laws who wielded two sizzling saxophones and a really great R&B band spiced by his sister back up singers Debra and Eloise. Ronnie Laws is a fine technician and a polished performer but on this night he showed joy and passion that made his set quite satisfying.
The Sisters Law opened with a percolating “Listen to the Moonlight” and were joined by big bro as they eased into a sort of voyage of textured sound. From the get-go Ronnie Laws fashioned a layered jazzy funk that gave a dreamy feel to the “moonlight” in words alone. Wandering the stage with his soprano sax, Laws acted as a centerpiece for a sextet thundering a sweet R&B foundation. Utilizing three guitars, a keyboard and double percussion the sound filled the hall and broke only to leave a crevice of room for the soaring sax provided soulfully by Laws. “Good Feelings” was all of that, “Never Be the Same” was sentimental and “Every Generation” rounded out a brisk beginning. Things heated even more with the old Eddie Harris tune “Listen Here” which allowed Laws to bust out the big horn and strut some soprano ax along with generous time for each band member to shine. The rather shy looking Jaman Laws joined his pop on “Always There” and shook off any bashfulness when he put his lips to his horn. The ensuing father-son interplay and exuberant solo was astoundingly electric and provided the high point of the evening.
The mild-mannered and mega-talented Earl Klugh who plays a small guitar in size only opened the show. Self-effacing patter aside Mr. Klugh is one of the finest technicians in music and despite his anchor in smooth jazz the volume was pumped way up and the energy surged in some tunes in part due to his fine band. “Heart String” his trademark brought rapt applause and the infectiously percolating “Wind and Sea” was almost dance music. However, the best of the set was a rapturously beautiful acoustic reading of “Balladina” from his new “Naked Guitar” CD that most certainly was part of the reason for the large crowd at the music table in the intermission lobby. There was a nice break when superb keyboardist Greg Phillinganes serenaded his Mom on her birthday with one of the most unique, improvizational versions ever heard from a stage. Earl Klugh smiled beneficently and kept playing his sweet guitar through “Living Inside Your Love,” “Last Song” and “Dr. Macumba.” “One Night Alone” also struck a chord in the large and enthusiastic audience who asked for more, even after “Twinkle” had spread its last light.

Pure Prairie League/Poco 9-24-2005

Pure Prairie/ Poco Young Again at Cerritos

By Glen Creason

Over the years pop music has passed through many a phase, including cow punk, ska, doo-wop, motown, psychedelic rock, disco, grunge, glitter, new-wave and much more. Almost forgotten in the mists of the mid-70’s along with earth shoes, streaking, mutton chops and pet rocks is Country-rock. Country rock, while faded a bit by father time is experiencing a resurgence hereabouts and who better to put a fresh paint on it than Pure Prairie League and Poco who held the banner aloft those three decades ago. The craft began back with the great “Buffalo Springfield” band in the 60’s then sailed on with groups like the Byrds and Eagles until encountering the rocks of New Wave in the 80’s. We probably won’t say “do your own thing,” pull out the puka shells or don our cuffed baggies again but judging by the big, highly-enthusiastic crowd at Cerritos Country-Rock is ready to roll again. Poconuts follow the band and are die-hards who still holler requests and recharge at the lobby bar with the best of them. One this night the Performing Arts Center was part arena and part roadhouse.
The co-headliners were Poco and Pure Prairie League who demonstrated passionate and extremely clean sounds blending the power of rock with the twang of country. The principals have a lot less hair and some wisdom lines around the face but their fingers seem to have kept pace with the rock and roll times. Both bands were excellent in their execution with Fats Kaplan spicing up the already fine PPL sound with his pedal steel alongside, thundering bassist Mike Reilly, rhythm guitarist Curtis Wright and superb drummer Rick Schell. The heart and soul of the band however is the rather serious Craig Fuller who sings and writes more prolifically than he grins.
PPL prepared the house for a long night of country rock by playing an extensive first set marked by spirited versions of “Kansas City Southern,” “I’ll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle,” “Pickin’ to Beat the Devil,” “Misery Train” and a wonderful, accordion iced “Cajun Girl” in homage to the victims of Katrina. There was an interesting and satisfying nod to Lowell George of “Little Feat” with a reading of his little chestnut “Six Feet of Snow” that hit the spot. However, the crowd was beside themselves for the drag race to the finish on “Two Lane Highway” and the glorious “Amy.” If there was any doubt about Country Rock still feeling a pulse you could have seen several thousand pumping in the hall at this point. Poco finished the show and kept the petal pushed near the metal belying their many moons of experience on stage. Instead of going through the motions they seemed utterly delighted to be giving the Poconuts just what they wanted and they rocked mighty hard from the opening shots of “Under the Gun” through the sweetness of an extended “Rose of Cimarron” toward “Call It Love peppered by Paul Cotton’s red-hot guitar riffs. Eppervescent Rusty Young fronted the band and kept it light but lively. The high moments were most certainly reached with a back to back jack of “Magnolia” and “Heart of the Night” that had the “kids” of the 70’s rocking into the twenty-first century.