This time, both feet in. My boys were in town and I’d missed them last year when my mother had her first stroke. Now I was going to let my boys help in dealing with my grief over my mother’s death.
I had written to the Lucero press people asking if I could interview the band for my blog and was (very nicely) told that it would not be possible for this show. But after the show Ben Nichols (lead singer, guitar) was hanging out at the bar and I screwed up my courage (some of it liquid) and asked him at least one of the questions I’d planned for my interview. Ben was sweet and quite animated and seemed to enjoy our talk. More on that later.
At the bar before the show the Jack and cokes and shots of Jameson’s were flowing. This was going to be a fun night.
J Roddy Walston and the Business are an ass-kickin’ live band. Walston would have given Jerry Lee Lewis a run for his money back in the day. Hair flying, head-banging rock and roll – I was afraid he was going to knock himself unconscious on the piano. He makes hard love to the piano and then touches her tenderly. The Business keeps up with Walston every step of the way – Billy Gordon (lead guitar/vocals), Logan Davis (bass/vocals) and Steve Colmus (drums). Audience favorite was “Don’t Break the Needle” but there were sing-a-longs for other songs including being instructed for “Midnight Cry.”
During the Lucero setup, Roy Berry came out to work on his drums. I noticed that Brian Venable’s (lead guitar) amp and guitar were missing. Ben later explained that Brian had family matters to deal with and would not be on this tour. John C Stubblefield (bass) came out with crutches. What is going on with my boys? The rest of the band is Rick Steff (keyboards, accordion), Jim Spake (saxophone) and Scott Thompson (trumpet).
Rick Russo of 107.1’s Anything Anything Show introduced the band. First he named all the great musical artists who have come out of Memphis. When he was in Memphis he went to the Shangri-la Record Store and asked the guy behind the counter for cds of the two best bands currently in Memphis. The guy handed him two Lucero cds and told Russo that they were not only the best band in Memphis but the best band in the country. After listening to the cds, Russo agreed.
Lucero played some songs that they don’t perform often and Ben played more slower sad songs than usual. That was fine by me. I love the slow sad songs too. And I got chills listening to some of them – how does a Southern boy know exactly how my heart feels and how can he write so clearly about my life? Because it’s the truth. Ben’s lyrics are as truthful as they come. He did add (as he always does) that the line in “Downtown (intro)” where he says he’s going to behave is a lie. But what I mean by truthful is not that the songs are true stories – it’s that the sentiment behind them is real and you believe every word.
“Breathless Love” was written for a woman who said she’d never leave him if he wrote a song for her. The song didn’t mean the same thing to her as it did to him. During “Mine Tonight” people started clapping and Ben asked them to stop because he couldn’t keep up with them.
Rick, Jim, and Scott took over some of Brian’s parts but you still missed him. Roy and John C, as usual, is a great rhythm section and I can’t imagine the band without them.
So – at the bar after the show I was sipping my drink and suddenly Ben was standing next to me ordering for himself. I thanked him for a great show and we shook hands – the man has one very strong handshake. I watched as other fans talked with him and Ben was gracious with his time. It was after last call and I was ready to leave when Ben was next to me again. Here we go. I asked him if I could ask a question about process. That confused him but he was willing to hear me out. I noticed his eyes scanning the bar and I asked if he was looking for his drink. He was, so I told him to go get it. He did and he returned. I asked who in the studio decides how a song will be recorded – in other words, songs change from the road to the album and I wanted to know who made that decision. Ben said it could be the band or the producer. Sometimes Roy will come up with a part and that will go in the song. Sometimes the verse becomes the chorus. “Hey Darling, Do You Gamble?” changed a lot from on the road to the album version and I didn’t get an answer to how that happened specifically. But Ben was animated when talking with me and even tapped my arm a few times for emphasis. At the end we shook hands and he came in close for the hug.
I’m living the dream, boys and girls. I’m living the dream.
Old Sad Songs
The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo
Downtown (intro)/On My Way Downtown
Nights Like These
I Kissed the Bottle (Jawbreakers cover)
I’ll Just Fall
Chain Link Fence
Sounds of the City
Women & Work
Texas & Tennessee
Union Pacific Line
Tonight Ain’t Gonna Be Good
Sixes and Sevens
My Best Girl
Ben Solo with Rick
The Last Pale Light in the West
All Sewn Up
Tears Don’t Matter Much
Encore – solo Ben
Encore – full band
What Else Would You Have Me Be?
Solo Ben with Rick
Fistful of Tears
By Carene Lydia Lopez