Chuck Mead: Live Last Night

mead

Live Last Night

By Juli Thanki

Unless you've got pyrotechnics at your disposal, playing D.C. on the Fourth of July is kind of a bad idea. At Chuck Mead's IOTA gig, barstools outnumbered patrons even though the show's start time was pushed back an hour to accommodate fireworks watchers. However, the 20 or so in attendance were in for quite a show.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Mead, frontman of honky-tonk revivalist band BR549, has stepped out on his own with solo effort "Journeyman's Wager," an album that sounds like a road trip through the past 40 years of American music from the hillbilly humor and R&B horns of "She Got the Ring (I Got the Finger)" to the rootsy weeper "Up on Edge Hill."

If Mead was disappointed at the paltry turnout, he never let on, performing each song like he was in front of a packed house. Supporting him was the Grassy Knoll Boys, his three piece band anchored by BR549 bassist Mark Miller and freakishly talented multi-instrumentalist Carco Clave, who's played with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex Ritter.

Mead and the Boys ripped though nearly three dozen songs in two hours, mixing tracks from his new record with BR549 originals and a wide variety of covers, including songs by 50 percent of The Beatles (George's "Old Brown Shoe" and Paul's "Sally G"), a revved up version of Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans"," and Ernest Tubb's "Waltz Across Texas," dedicated to a couple celebrating their first anniversary.

Chuck Mead may not have been the most popular show in town, but it sure beat braving the masses congregated on the Mall. The soundtrack was better, too.

By David Malitz |  July 5, 2009; 2:12 PM ET Live Last Night
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Salsa legend Willie Colon and his band for free 4th of July at noon at Wilson Plaza was pretty awesome, and there were 3 or 4 great bands(las Estrellas de Vallenato, Ecos de Borinquen, Los Hermanos Lovo, Grupo Cimarron) later at the Smithsonian Folklife Fest. As for Mead providing the best evening soundtrack, yea I'd take him over Barry Manilow, but I didn't see Aretha Franklin at the Capitol 4th evening show and I bet she was pretty great.

Posted by: outsider8 | July 5, 2009 7:17 PM

Completely agree. Mead really put on one heck of a show, despite the low turnout. The band was top-notch. I couldn't think of a beter way to spend the Fourth!

Posted by: mcletus | July 8, 2009 7:37 AM

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