The MighTy BLuR Reduces The New Standard to Rubble
Well, figuratively speaking, anyway. This new collaboration with Melody Trucks, Bobby Lee Rodgers, Shane Platten, and Shaun Taunton played the last night of their three-show run at The New Standard in Winter Park, Florida, on Saturday, April 17. This is the first time this quartet has performed, and they guarantee it will not be the last! And they call it A MighTy BLuR based on their initials.
Trucks and Rodgers had been talking about the project for more than a year, wading through the pandemic floodwaters, but were finally able to bring it to fruition. Their first rehearsal was Wednesday, followed by a show Thursday at Blue Jay Listening Room in Jacksonville and then Friday at The Junction at Monroe in Tallahassee. Trucks and Lee said that it took a short time at the Thursday show to prove that they really had something special.
Several observations about the band. Platten and Taunton are one incredible rhythm section. They play in The Melody Trucks Band, Ginger Beard Man, a wedding band subset of MTB, and other projects as well. There is nothing they cannot do.
Trucks is a fine percussion player, but it is her vocals that have truly exploded the past several years. She is a superb singer with great jazz sensibilities and the ability to let it all go, much to the delight of the audience. The Melody Trucks Band set at the recent Suwannee Rising Music & Arts Festival was ample proof of that.
I’ll make this part brief. From my perspective, there isn’t a better guitarist on the scene today than Bobby Lee Rodgers. Period. The end.
The night consisted of eight Rodgers compositions and six great cover tunes. Rodgers, Platten, and Taunton acted as if they’d played together for decades, the true of mark of great players in our musical world. They immediately tore into “Tumblin’ Down.” Rodgers is the machine-gun version of Wes Montgomery: gorgeous jazz phrasings roaring at you at 100 MPH. It was killer. During one of Rodgers’ solos, he sang vocalese. Trucks sang backing vocals.
The first cover tune was a Paul ‘Earthquake’ Pena composition which appeared on the 2009 Derek Trucks Band album Already Free, “Something to Make You Happy.” This one smoked, and Trucks unchained her voice and let it roar!
A very emotional moment occurred next — a moment that would last the remainder of the evening. Trucks introduced Stixx Turne, a lady few of us knew. Trucks explained that Stixx was the drum tech for years for her dad, Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band. Stixx pulled up a chair, strapped on her djembe, and off the band launched into “Lima.” Not sure what the original motivation for this collaboration between MT and BLR, but it’s for damn sure that they harmonize so well together. Rodgers crushed another ridiculous solo (or two).
Stixx stayed up for another Rodgers tune, “Piece.” This one began at a much slower tempo, Rodgers singing with Trucks backing him. Platten took a huge solo that involved vocalese. Platten also used a Leslie-like effect, interesting because Rodgers plays regularly through a Leslie cabinet (speaker), giving his playing a great tremolo effect when desired (most often used by Hammond B3 players). Trucks soared on the wordless chorus.
Taunton then yielded his kit to Stixx, and she rocked it for the last three songs of the set, beginning with the killer “Victor the Snake Man”; Rodgers writes evocative songs about all sorts of topics! Platten, Stixx, and Rodgers stretched out here. They followed that with a fine cover of the Tom Petty-Stevie Nicks anthem “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and closed set one with another Rodgers powerhouse tune: “Beggin’ (You to Stay).”
Set two began with the original quartet playing Rodgers’ great homage to Hammond B3 master “Ike Stubblefield,” featuring Taunton on drums and another blistering Rodgers solo. Then, to the delight of all who knew him (and to everyone else shortly thereafter), who should stroll up to the Hammond B3 there on stage (Tommy Shugart’s for his numerous weekly gigs at The New Standard) but Todd Stoops! STOOOOPS! The man who formerly rocked it with RAQ and Kung Fu and is now a compatriot of Dave Watts, Marcus Rezak, and other Colorado dignitaries was here… in Florida! OH, MAN!
Trucks sang the old Wilson Pickett hit “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You,” Stixx also back in the mix. Stoops took a fine solo, but the real action began when he and Rodgers began trading back and forth and then playing together. Just plain WOW!
Another BLR tune, “Saved By the Same Thing,” received righteous treatment, first with Rodgers and Stoops head to head, then a bass-and-drums feature with Platten and Taunton, and Stoops hitting clean-up all OVER the B3. They followed with another Rodgers composition, “It Is What It Is.”
Trucks asked us if we liked Tower of Power. The roar of response in answer led to an excellent reading of “Don’t Change Horses (in the Middle of the Stream).” Trucks had mentioned several times the genius of Rodgers’ lyrics. I leaned over to Donna to mention another of his tunes, “Body in the Lake.” And that’s precisely what they played next! Stoops stood out again.
Trucks, Rodgers & Co. closed out the set with a track from the debut album by Graham Central Station titled “Hair,” with Platten and Trucks trading the lyrics, including, “’Cause I just don’t believe it’s fair, To judge a man by the length of his hair.”
BRIEF TIME-OUT FOR A RANT. Far too many crowds now EXPECT and encore and don’t want to WORK for it. If you want ONE MORE SONG, then you’d better ACT like you want ONE MORE SONG. We didn’t work hard enough this time.
Trucks got up and encouraged US to encourage THEM to play ONE MORE SONG. Fortunately, they did, and they gave us a delightful “Dance to the Music” to cap off a wonderful evening.
Nate Landwer, owner of The New Standard, is a music fanatic and encourages after-hours jams. There was one Saturday after the show, with the quartet, Stixx, Stoops, and Matt Lapham, Tommy Shugart, Clay Watson, AnnaLee Keehner, Will Keehner, and other local dignitaries on stage. They had enough gas to rock on until 5 a.m. Sadly, my tank was MT. We also missed the brunch show Sunday. Next time!
Rodgers promises he is back to action, and the quartet will be back for more as well! Quintet? Sextet? You never know!
[Set 1: (When the World Comes) Tumblin’ Down, Something to Make You Happy, Lima, Piece, Victor the Snake Man, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks), Beggin’; SET 2: Ike Stubblefield, Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You (Wilson Pickett), Saved By the Same Thing, Don’t Change Horses (in the Middle of the Stream) (Tower of Power), Body in the Lake, Hair (Graham Central Station); Dance to the Music (Sly & the Family Stone)]
Photographs courtesy of Robert ‘Kap’ Kapliner / SomeWhiteGuy.net. Use this link from The New Standard to watch A MighTy BLuR in action! Great thanks as always to Joey Crochet on sound and Joe Donnelly on lighting! And thank you for your love of music, Nate Landwer!