Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Duff Gig Review: The Bluebeats at Shrine (9/5/09)

Despite the light turnout at Shrine (AKA Black United Fun Plaza!), no doubt due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, The Bluebeats tore through two powerful sets of their most excellent rocksteady-reggae-soul sounds. Much to my shame, I have to confess that I haven't seen the band in a couple of years, so I was thrilled to find them still in top form. Clearly, I've been away for far too long.

Highlights of their first set included The Bluebeats' terrific originals "Dance with Me," "Boom-Boom-Boom," and "Hardest Working Man" (shout out to a certain Scofflaw here), as well as extraordinarily smokin' covers of Ken Boothe's "Freedom Street," Otis Redding's "Look at that Girl," and Elvis Costello's version of Sam & Dave's "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down." (I wish I had recorded some of these cuts to share with you, but I didn't get a chance to speak to Mike Drance about videotaping the band with my son's trusty Flip until the break between sets--I've known Mike since the early 90s and Shrine is so intimate, so it seemed like the right thing to secure his permission before shooting...)

Several video clips from The Bluebeats' great second set are below for your viewing/listening pleasure, including covers of The Drifters "I Count the Tears," Pat Kelly's "How Long," and The Gladiators' "Live Wire." (Look for more interesting video from The Duff Guide to Ska's vaults, soon.)

On our way to Shrine, my friend Joe and I had been talking about our respective parents' increasing frailty, the specter of their (and our own) mortality, and all kinds of day-to-day crap that was beyond our limited realms of control. Good times for two forty-something guys grappling with the same matters that people have been/are/will be confronting or ignoring all over the world till the end of time. Listening to The Bluebeats took all that away--not only while they performed, but the joy, excitement, and empathy in their music was something almost tangible that I carried with me as I headed towards the subway on my way home. Their music--like all truly good music--made everything better. Didn't solve my problems or feed the hungry or figure out a policy that will allow everyone to go to a doctor when they're sick--but seeing The Bluebeats play was another one of those experiences that reminds you why life is good and worth getting up out of bed for every day.

Simply put, The Bluebeats are brilliant! You've got to make sure to catch one of their upcoming gigs soon!

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