full review of live show 6/21/14 Oh-So-Good, Oh-So-Fine: WMNF’s Tribute to The Kinks By Amy Beeman
It was a hot, sultry night with just a whisper of wind last Saturday at Skippers’s Smokehouse, where WMNF paid tribute to The Kinks and Ray Davies on The Kinks co- founder’s 70th birthday. WMNF Program Director Randy Wynne said he got the idea after he happened to Google Ray Davies Birthday. “They’re a great band who aren’t as recognized as they should be,” he said. It seemed fitting to revisit the band’s music, which is often overlooked.Wynne said some bands came to him wanting to be involved, and others were invited. The 13 bands varied on their versions of the two to four songs they each played. Some stayed true to the original recordings, others arranged the songs to reflect their own style.
Soul Purpose put a Sublime-esque twist on “Destroyer,” alternating reggae and some almost metal sounding moments, finishing their set with a good-old-fashioned banging of the guitar on the stage.
Doll Parts were the first to get everyone on the dance floor with their edgy punk versions of some of the more well-known Kinks tunes, like “You Really Got Me.” Back-up singer and maraca-shaker, Susan Riggs, said she wasn’t sure how people were going to take their amped up version of “Lola”, but smiles were abundant on the faces of those watching the St. Pete all-girl six-piece.
The Rich Whiteley Band showed their chops on “Celluloid Heroes,” which got big accolades from the crowd. The singer told the audience about how he discovered The Kinks as a kid and “went down the rabbit hole,” learning all about their music. “It’s a big honor to play here tonight,” he said.
Ricky Wilcox and the Moonsnakes played excellent straight forward versions of their allotted four songs, keeping folks dancing. This band’s handling of The Kinks’ music was likely the closest some of us will ever get to hearing The Kinks play live. Really great.
Four Star Riot had some fun with “All Day and All of the Night,” when they went into the version many of us Generation-Xers remember by 2 Live Crew, starting with, “One and one, they’re having some fun....” all the way through what they did on the floor after “four and four.”
The crowd had dwindled slightly by the time Coco and Homo took the stage. The singing duo who fronted the band, Coco in a hot pink wig, Homo in a half-unbuttoned shirt and long gold or silver chains, sometimes seemed like a couple of kids singing in their bedrooms into hairbrushes, sometimes seemed like they’d be killing it at the gay bar with their banter and schtick. The crowd seemed fascinated, but it was odd that most stood still on the dance floor rather than dancing, because this band was high energy and fun.
All in all the event drew a full-house and the music was well played. It was a proper tribute to the band that WMNF’s new 60s-show DJ, Michael “Slossy” Slosberg said were “always the underdog singing about the underdog.” Slosberg, a big fan of The Kinks, said their music is unique because it “represented post-war Britain and failed aspirations.” He said they often sang about “the dilemma of life and its inevitable disappointments.”
But they sure knew how to turn that downtrodden subject matter into some super catchy tunes. A well-respected man and a well-respected band, indeed.
Concert review: WMNF British Invasion Tribute Show at Skipper's Smokehouse
Locals played sets by artists ranging from the Rolling Stones to Them at the latest 'MNF tribute show; pics included.
Posted By ANDY WARRENER on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 3:50 PM
"Laurie Lou and I have always been a fan of that [1960s British rock] music, then she put a bug in my ear about doing a British Invasion show," WMNF DJ Flee explained. "When we booked this venue, we got it going as soon as we could."
Flee and Lou would have preferred to have thrown the party in 2014, marking the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' debut on the Ed Sullivan Show — an event widely considered the launch of the British Invasion — but Skipper's wasn't available at the time. When the June 13 date opened up, Flee jumped to secure it and started organizing the show. "We know a lot of local bands and we picked ones that fit [the genre]," Flee said.
Flee and Co. compiled a list of '60s bands they'd want to hear and made phone calls from there. Participating groups selected artists from the list, which were eliminated as they were chosen. "Then it really took off," Flee said, noting that the everything on the list was claimed but bands were reaching out and hoping to get booked. "The (Rancid) Polecats called, saying they wanted to do The Kinks."
And thus, what started as a modest tribute show ballooned into an extravaganza that kicked off two hours earlier than first planned, at 5 .m., and came to encompass 20 performers. The Delta 88s kicked off the show with a few numbers by The Yardbirds. Ella Jet, Glad All Over, and Robert Wegmann drew selections from different three consecutive years of The Beatles (1963, 1964, 1965). The Sara Rose Band re-imagined a few songs by Dusty Springfield. Americana act Will Quinlan delivered some Dovovan. But the Rancid Polecats really got the venue rocking with The Kinks selections from The Kinks, and set the stage for The Vodkanauts, a power lounge group that felt right at home laying down Tom Jones selections. "These are songs we've been doing for 12 years," lead singer Jonathan Harrison explained later.
It showed, as The Vodkanauts negotiated through swinging versions of "It's Not Unusual," "Delilah" and "She's a Lady," each with its own built-in transition to the next song. From the set's start, the crowd was brought to a excited apex and a buzzing, humming interlude going into Delilah working everyone up to hand-waving and singing along to "Delilah's" refrain.
WMNF shows always attract the most diverse denizen, and this night was no exception, its cornucopia yielding anyone from 20-something hipsters and rockabilly swingers to hippies and rockers in their 60s. The Vodkanauts gave way to Parson Brown performing The Hollies, which gave way to Ricky Wilcox and the Moonsnakes tackling upbeat renditions by The Who.
Wilcox and Company opened with "I Can't Explain," followed it up with "The Kids Are Alright" and "So Sad About Us." The patently recognizable songs and Wilcox's giant, windmill swipes of the guitar brought the crowd back to full throat sing-alongs until they wrapped the set with "Substitute."
Playing the other side of the coin from the well-established Tom Jones-Vodkanauts connection, were The Reservoir Troggs. Don't recognize that name? That's because the group came together expressly for Saturday's tribute show. Tattoo artist Evil Don led a group of local musician friends in covers of cuts by The Troggs. Their set was both an homage to the 60s rock band as well as to 1992's Reservoir Dogs, leading off with classic selections like "I Can't Control Myself" and "Love Is All Around" before launching into gems like "Girl Like You" and "Wild Thing." Don and the Reservoir Troggs looked quite comfortable taking on the material despite Don's claim of a mere four rehearsals at Circle Studios beforehand, and proved himself a fine frontman, though he would've sold it better with Trogg lead singer Reg Presley's characteristic sideways head bob. During "Wild Thing," the dwindling crowd poured back in from the woodwork and reinvigorated the show just in time for Little Sheba and The Shamans to take the stage with their presentation of Them.
Little Sheba lead singer Ari Little delivered one of the night's most entertaining tributes and a rocking, modern fusion of the two acts. First, Little strolled onto the stage in throwback fashion — black-and-white checked '60s mod-style mini dress with matching headband. Her deep, sultry vocal quality proved a nice lovely feminine for those of Them's (male) lead singer, Van Morrison. "Bright Lights Big City" was followed by "Baby Please Don't Go" and topped only by was is arguably Them's best-known cut, "Gloria." Little brought a healthy dose of soul to the performance and offered a kinky twist on the lyrics as sung from the female perspective. "We really like Gloria and Them, we were glad they were still available," Little said. "There were a few bands left [to choose from] but Them really fits us, they're more what we normally play - it was not much of a stretch for us."
Headliners, the Mojo Gurus capped off the night with The Rolling Stones, arguably the biggest band to come out of Britain that's remains active today. The Gurus' Southern rock spin on the Stones tracks found lead singer Kevin Steele howling and crooning through "Satisfaction," "Get off My Cloud" and "The Last Time."
Flee, who played emcee for the evening, led the people who remained in a Mojo Gurus chant to draw the band back onstage for an encore, which they happily delivered in "Paint it Black," a wildly-appropriate finale for a Saturday edging towards midnight.
Tropical Heatwave aside, tribute shows have always been WMNF's bread and butter, and the raucous crowd who landed at Skipper's showed their appreciation for this rather special edition one while also contibuting to WMNF's summer membership drive. There are talks about a redux, The British Are Coming II. I'll keep my fingers crossed, and look forward to the next tentatively planned tribute, to Frank Sinatra in December
Last Day On Planet Earth...
Ricky Wilcox & The Moonsnakes: Last Day On Planet Earth
Reviewed By: Malcolm Carter
Label: Sunshine Drenchy
Now based in Tampa Bay, Florida and with his first solo album, 2003’s ‘Monkeyshine’ featuring the talents of Steve Connelly, it comes as no great surprise that Ricky Wilcox's latest album, ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’, is released on Florida’s excellent Sunshine Drenchy label. It is the perfect home for the eleven songs that make up this collection.
Wilcox has had a long musical career, but most will be familiar with his work, in America at least, from a song from ‘Monkeyshine’ that was featured in the TV series ‘All My Children’. ‘Insignificant’ was a chiming gem of a song that deserved all the exposure it received, Wilcox, while showing that he isn’t always the most impressive singer on the planet on his solo debut, pulled out all the stops on this track and delivered his most touching vocal performance to date. The harmonies are heavenly, and with Connelly’s trademark guitar all over the song it just couldn’t fail. It’s a perfect pop song, superbly produced and played; the type of song you fall in love with on first listen.
It wasn’t the only song that stood out on ‘Monkeyshine; ‘Vancouver’ is another slice of pop heaven, again Wilcox shines vocally and you shake your head at why Connelly isn’t regarded worldwide as one of this generation’s most outstanding guitar players. Over the thirteen songs on ‘Monkeyshine’ there are moments of pure brilliance, but perhaps because the songs span a period of around seven years there are also times when the quality dips slightly and the album doesn’t flow quite so well. It has to be said that the album was a grower. Tracks like ‘Shiny New’ and ‘Turnip’ have proven to be mini power pop classics and don’t sound in the least bit dated almost ten years down the line.
At a perfect 34 minutes the latest from Wilcox and company, ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’, doesn’t disappoint for even one second. Clad in one of Sunshine Drenchy’s most impressive sleeves, which are becoming as interesting as the music they clothe, the very first few seconds of the opening song, ‘Spaceship Over Tulsa’ causes a massive grin to break out.
Mixing his power-pop sensibilities with touches of folk music Wilcox sets the level high by opening with this melodic slice of pop heaven that just can’t fail to make you feel good no matter what the day has already thrown at you. While appreciating that this is very much a Ricky Wilcox album, it has to be said that once again Steve Connelly, who co-produces all the songs with Wilcox, adds so much to these songs. Why is it that every time I hear a Connelly guitar solo it feels like the first time I’m hearing the man and I’m stopped in my tracks? That said, Wilcox is hardly a novice, handling all the drum parts plus contributing guitar, bass and keyboards expertly throughout the album, proving that here is another musician who deserves more attention that he is currently receiving.
Vocally something has changed too; there’s still that lightness to his vocals but there’s more feeling, more emotion, displayed throughout this latest collection. In fact, while Wilcox hasn’t got a particularly distinctive singing voice. it’s a warm, inviting sound on ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’ and the more you hear it the more appealing it becomes. The way he closes that opening song with the line, “ All I’m asking is do you love me/That’s all I really want to know” is particularly moving, the sentiment in his voice sounding totally honest. It’s a perfect opening four minutes that is going to soundtrack this summer for a good few people.
‘Picture’ is where Wilcox displays his Beatles/Byrds influences; it’s one of those songs that you know instantly, like you’ve lived with it all your life, while acknowledging that it is, in fact, fresh and new. It’s yet another perfect little pop song. What’s not to like? Harmonies, chiming guitars, vocals that you just can’t place but know you’ve heard many times before, and another charming Wilcox melody all contribute to make the song another dose of summer sunshine. The good-time feel that those opening two songs generate is going to make this one of the most played albums this summer.
Tim Bernard’s saxophone goes some way to taking ‘Jump Back’ into a completely different direction than the songs that precede it, adding a rock ‘n’ roll feel to the proceedings shows that Wilcox is no one trick pony and lines like “you’ve got cool hair like Keith Relf “ all add to the fun. it’s more than cool that Relf is still remembered for more than his vocals.
There are two short instrumental pieces on ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’. The first is the 50 second ‘Honda Prelude’ which is simply a beautiful piece of music, very atmospheric and which doesn’t, surprisingly, interrupt the flow of the album,. In fact it adds a ‘Pet Sounds’ like quality to the album which is no bad thing. The song that follows, ‘Guys Like You And Me’, is the centerpiece of ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’. The Opening lines of “ There’s a blue light hanging in the basement tonight/Colouring our rock and roll dreams/We thought they would last forever/But just a tick of the clock it seems” finds Wilcox in a reflective mood but one that many will recognize. Driven by piano and guitar, Wilcox almost mumbles the words which all adds to the melancholy feel of the song.
Apart from the two short instrumentals, which both go some way to setting the mood of the songs they precede, any of the remaining nine songs could be plucked off the album for radio play, ‘Light Up’ for example is another summery pop confection that will have you singing along within seconds. It has an almost jaunty, reggae feel to it that will brighten a few barbeques this summer for sure.
‘Last Day On Planet Earth’ has to be, despite his long career and seemingly being around music forever, the best album yet that Wilcox has been involved in,. It’s varied, beautifully played and produced, hangs together brilliantly and improves with every play even though that seems impossible from the very first time you hear it as it’s so perfect from the off.
But don’t just take my word for it, check out the Sunshine Drenchy site, there you can download, for free, the label’s 2012 sampler which includes those opening two songs from ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’, namely ‘Spaceship Over Tulsa’ and ‘Picture’, but be prepared to shell out for the album after hearing those songs; the rest of this latest offering from Wilcox is more of the same quality. ‘Last Day On Planet Earth’ is a remarkable set of songs and is highly recommended.