Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Concert Odyssey Day Two: Joe Ely at the Granada Theater

The lights dimmed, the curtain came up, and there he was, smiling from ear to ear.  "Hello, folks.  I'm Joe Ely.  We're really excited to be playing for you tonight."  It was a bit odd, I thought, since we were the ones who should be happy to see the man.

But then they started playing, and for the next two-plus hours, I understood why he was so excited.

Accompanying Ely on stage were guitar virtuoso David Grissom, rhythm section Davis McLarty and Jimmy Pettit, and legendary saxophonist Bobby Keys.  Don't know Bobby Keys?  Yes you do.  If you've ever listened to the Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar, then you know his stock and trade well.  Keys is a man who's sat in with virtually everyone in rock and roll, and on this night, we were fortunate to be along for the ride.

Keys and Grissom traded chops on classics like Cool Rockin' Loretta, Lord of the Highway, The Road Goes on Forever, All Just To Get To You, Oh Boy, Not Fade Away, and Dallas (of course).  But the show stealer was the band's gorgeous rendition of Letter to L.A., which was at once soothing and poignant.

Thankfully, the crowd of 50- and 60-somethings eventually got into the swing of it, politely swaying to the music, and even moving up to the front.  It seemed a bit of an older crowd to us, but then again, Joe Ely is no spring chicken, either (nor am I, alas).  But on this evening, this panhandle prince and his band played like testosterone-fueled 20-year-olds with nothing to prove.  They made it look easy -- effortless even.

That cheshire cat smile on Ely's face stayed there the entire night -- it was obvious the guy was enjoying himself.  And by the end of the evening, shit-eating grins had spread to everyone in the theater.  And I've still got mine today.

1 comment:

  1. I've been lucky enough to catch Joe Ely a few times and it's always been a fun and high energy show. He seems to be one of those guys who, even though he's been at it a long time and is a pretty big name, really enjoys performing and works really hard. If you can get to a Flatlanders' date, you're in for a really good evening as well.