The last time we were at City Winery, Mrs. Devereaux mentioned that she’d be back in February to see Teddy Thompson and his cover band Poundcake doing mostly rockabilly. The name Teddy Thompson was enough for me to say I’ll join you. (By the way, if you Google Poundcake they are not the grunge/metal band.)
This time our seats were right next to the soundboard. They were great for viewing the stage up until two men with very big heads sat on the other side of table. While waiting for the show, Mrs. Devereaux, rtb, violaleeblue, and I talked and enjoyed City Winery’s good food and great wine.
Drummer Ethan Eubanks came out (pointing out his initials on his kick) and introduced the opening act Tom Shillue. Eubanks was so funny I was wondering if he was also a professional comedian. Shillue started off talking about commercials from his youth would never work today like the small Frito Bandito stealing chips and then napping under a tree under his wide sombrero. Next he went through the theme for Armour hot dogs (which I still know by heart and sang for our table) and how ridiculous it is.
Hot dogs, Armour hot dogs
What kind of kids each Armour hot dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks
Tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox.
Love hot dogs, Armour hot dogs.
The dogs kids love to bite.
By this time Shillue totally had me. The rest of his routine was about growing up Irish Catholic and finding the Jewish girls he first encountered in JHS to be very exotic and then his marriage to an Italian-American. Even though his experience took place in Massachusetts, having grown up in a NYC neighborhood filled with Irish and Italians, I could relate to a lot of what he was saying.
As Poundcake took to the stage and started setting up the audience clapped but it died down quickly as Eubanks, guitarist and lead singer Thompson, and upright bassist Jeff Hill continued their set-up and ignored us. The setting up took a bit too long and during the awkward silence they asked for applause. Like most guitarists, Thompson kept asking for more guitar in his monitor. This created a problem when they asked guitarist Jason Crigler (who has a fascinating story) to join them on stage for a few songs. Thompson gave Crigler his electric guitar and Thompson switched to acoustic. Because Thompson’s guitar was so loud in the monitors it was bottom-heavy and feeding back. So there was switching of cables and shouts to the sound guy.
Thompson, Eubanks, and Hill were having a great time on stage. Hill and Eubanks each got to sing two songs but most of the night it was Thompson on lead vocal. There was a lot of teasing whenever Hill or Eubanks had to sing and they would have to restart. Eubanks called Hill the heartbeat of the group so Thompson wanted to know what he was and Eubanks told him he was the face. They riffed on being on the world tour (they had just played Chicago) and the crew jackets they had made and then had to throw out because there was no crew. When Thompson said he was getting small shocks from his mic, Eubanks pointed to the sound guy and congratulated him on good job as if it was what they wanted to do to Thompson. When a couple left they were forlorn pleas from the band but the couple said they had to leave because of the babysitter. Later when something didn’t go right on stage, Eubanks joked that we were probably all wishing we had a babysitter excuse. The funniest story was about Thompson attending an auction with the intent of buying a $500 guitar strap and, after the arm with paddle took on a life of its own, ending up with a $15,000 guitar.
The band plays a lot of rockabilly and country. Some wonderful songs that I haven’t heard in a long time and a few I’d never heard before. These songs were all classics that everyone should know.
All three are great musicians and Thompson especially has a wonderful voice. His take on “Why Can’t He Be You?” was breathtaking. Hill sang “My Heart Skips a Beat” for his six-month old son changing “you came into my life without warning” to “you came into my life with nine-months warning” and it was very sweet. Thompson let us sing along to “Runaway” and “Daddy Sang Bass.”
The show was sold out. If they come around to your town, make it a point to see them.
And if you want to know what I mean when I say big head.
Set List (noting the versions they did; not necessarily the originals)
By Carene Lydia Lopez