While standing on line, the people behind me noticed the performance video on the wall of the bar at Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3 bar and were wondering if that was taking place in the room below us. I told them that was Stage 2, which is around the corner and can be accessed through the glass doors in front of us. And the talk about Stage 2 led to talk about Stage 1 and Stage 0 and then about seeing live music in NYC and favorite venues like City Winery. They’d seen Poundcake many times as well as Teddy Thompson performing solo. We also had a discussion about how musicians will come out to see their friends, so at any concert we could be treated to a special guest performing.
Then Peter showed up and we were talking and I saw this older man walk towards the front of the line and something about him (I could only see the back of his head) made me think he was someone special when the woman in front of me turned around and excitedly said, “Richard Thompson is here!” and then I excitedly turned around to the people behind me and said, “Richard Thompson is here!” Would we be lucky enough to see him perform also?
Rockwood’s Stage 3 is a small intimate room without a bad spot and great sound. And it’s all chairs and tables or counters, so you can sit throughout the show. The band was tuning while we were getting our seats and as soon as they started playing, everyone in the room shut up. The first song was an instrumental that sounded very familiar but I can’t remember the name of it.
For those not in the know, drummer (and singer) Ethan Eubanks told us the story of Poundcake. Ethan and Jeff Hill (electric bass/singer) played in Teddy’s (electric and acoustic guitar/singer) band and while on tour they would play Buddy Holly songs during soundcheck. When the tour was over they decided to form a band that would only play rockabilly, old rock and roll, and country covers. It’s been a year since they’ve performed (Jeff; “I missed you guys.”) but it’s difficult to tell if when they went up on lyrics or missed cues if that was because of lack of playing together or if it was just them. Because in the past they often went up on lyrics and missed cues.
Sometimes they seem like a comedy troupe that plays music and other time they’re like a musical group that does comedy. Ethan will sometimes ad lib during songs will even make Teddy crack up. Other times, Teddy’s voice and their beautiful harmonies will bring you to tears. And they are all great musicians.
After the first song, Teddy said he had worked his way up from playing gigs in the basement up to the first floor and now here he was back in the basement again. Ethan joked that it was the opposite of the Beatles. And then said Cavern Club for those of us not versed in music history. There was a lot of joking about a car that Jeff just bought at a police auction that looks like a car that was bought at a police auction. It has no fender and is dented. Jeff thinks Armour All will take out the dents. Ethan joked this time that when he’s stopped by the police that night and asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” that Jeff’s response will be, “So many reasons.”
They did surprise me with a couple of very politically incorrect jokes – we all laughed but I felt guilty doing so (they had to do with women and rape). “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” was proceeded by Teddy telling us that the song literally spells out the subject matter. Ethan was set up on the floor next to the stage (it is not big enough for three of them plus the grand piano) and Teddy told Ethan that he had been offered the piano to play and Ethan said he lack of ability on the instrument is the only thing that stopped him.
Teddy only played the acoustic guitar for a few songs and he sang most of the leads. Jeff took lead on two songs (“Bye Bye Love” and “Cupid”) and Ethan sang lead on “Act Naturally” and was going to sing lead on another but then the sound guy informed them that they only had 10 minutes left (which elicited a lot of boos and noes) and Ethan said he knew why we had spent our entertainment dollars and it was not for him and he deferred to Teddy.
Teddy announced that they were going to play an Eddie Cochrane song and he said there was a special guest in the audience and those of us who knew were already applauding and when he walked up to the stage we started cheering and when Teddy said, “Richard Thompson!” the others in the audience started applauding and cheering too. Richard, of course, blew us away with his solo on “Cut Across Shorty.” And he rejoined them (“I can see you guys struggling”) for the encore and “Little Sister.” There were two moments I loved (besides the guitar playing) – Richard took out a zippered key case and removed a pick (“You never know when someone is going to ask you to play and need to be prepared.”) and after “Cut Across Shorty” he leaned over and gave Teddy a kiss on the forehead. Teddy said he had grown up listening to these songs in the car during trips with his family to Scotland (Ethan: “That’s like driving to Pennsylvania.”) so it made sense that his father should join them in playing some of the songs.
You can never go wrong with Poundcake.
Set List (names are those who famously sang the songs and not necessarily the songwriters)
Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochrane)
Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line (Waylon Jennings)
Brown Eyed Handsome Man (Chuck Berry)
Bye Bye Love (Everly Brothers)
Important Words (Gene Vincent)
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
Act Naturally (Buck Owens)
D-I-V-O-R-C-E (Tammy Wynette)
I Put a Spell on You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)
It’s So Easy (Buddy Holly)
Daddy Sang Bass (Johnny Cash)
What Do You Think of Her Now? (Willie Nelson)
Hey, Porter (Johnny Cash)
Cupid (Sam Cooke)
That’ll Be the Day (Buddy Holly)
Why Can’t He Be You? (Patsy Cline)
Cut Across Shorty (Eddie Cochrane)
To Be Loved (Jackie Wilson)
Encore (didn’t actually leave stage but blacked out lights for a second)
Little Sister (Elvis Presley)
Lonesome Town (Ricky Nelson)
By Carene Lydia Lopez