Little Feat at Florida Theatre in Jacksonville with Amy Helm
Little Feat is on the road again, on the Waiting For Columbus tour.
Get a ticket.
Bring your friends.
Be ready for a lot of music.
Original members Billy Payne, keyboards and vocals; Kenny Gradney, bass; and Sam Clayton, congas, percussion, and vocals; are joined by longtime member Fred Tackett on guitar, trumpet, and pencil(!), Tony Leone on drums, and Scott Sharrard, the former guitarist and musical director for the Gregg Allman band. The Midnight Ramble Horns (originally assembled by Levon Helm) are providing the Tower of Power punch.
But first —
Monday night (April 25) at the venerable Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Levon‘s daughter Amy Helm opened up with her band, including Adam Levy, guitarist for Norah Jones. Helm’s band was sneaky good, moody and spacious, living up to someone else’s description as “Sunday school for sinners.” They were joined by Billy Payne and Susan Tedeschi for several chilling numbers, including a song written by Bruce Springsteen but weaponized by Levon Helm: “Atlantic City.” Tedeschi also came out for an a cappella hymn that Levon had taught Amy, and the theatre held its collective breath in awe.
As to Feat —
There is a long list of legendary bands that have struggled to overcome the loss of their seminal and charismatic founding members. As a function of respect, loyalty, and grief for the original lineup, most deep fans are understandably reluctant to embrace a new lineup until an authentic live white rabbit or two have been extracted from the magic hat, onstage and in person.
Hambone saw Lowell George and Little Feat in the ’70s and has the tinnitus to prove it. He had recently been listening with immense respect to the live Gregg Allman Band double album “Back To Macon” with Scott Sharrard as the musical director and lead guitar player, so he was hopeful. His report?
There is (a righteous facsimile of) a “Fat Man back in the Bathtub”!
The quality of the venue, the sound, the Waiting for Columbus material, and the natural mesh between Mr. Sharrard and the band was exquisite. Within the frame of all the intricate NOLA/Memphis/LA funk that Tackett, Payne, Gradney and Clayton have trademarked, Sharrard channeled both straight guitar, open-tuned slide, and the vocal style of Lowell George and Paul Barrere on demand, and the band stretched the songs way out while hitting every cue and signature riff. The horn section, the vocal polish and slide intonation and LF-approved Phase 90-tones by Sharrard, Billy Payne’s wizardry and vocals and cues, the Strat finesse by Tackett, and the thunder of Clayton, Gradney and Leone combined to guide Columbus to a new world.