Greedy Geezer hosted his annual Greedy Geezer’s Garage Night BBQ at his Stoughton, Massachusetts backyard last Saturday afternoon, and it was a real hootenanny. The variety and quality of music was matched only by the variety and quality of barbeque food offered by this master of roots music and smoked meats.
I arrived in time to catch opening act Paddy O’Keys. Playing an electric piano, and supported by drummer “Allan Hendry, O’Keys took the audience down a pleasant memory lane. Irish tune “The Drunken Sailor” when over well for its lyrical entertainment value, especially the verse about the “rusty razor.” O’Key’s could change his sound to either electric piano or organ to suit a wide array of golden oldies. His organ melody on “Secret Agent Man” combined a sweet melodic twist with some mischievous chords.
O’Keys turned “Country Road” into a beauty of a piano ballad, a ballad that got the audience into a sing along vibe. His take on The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” captured the spiritual underbelly of that piece before he got back into an oldies vibe with “Marylou” then jumped back to the more recent decades with John Forgery’s “Centerfield.”
Allan Hendry remained at the drum set to accompany Bubba Loaf, a vocalist playing electric guitar who whipped out a lot of interesting tones within a gritty picking style. Bubba Loaf’s bracing guitar chords on his original “Contamination” flew by with up-tempo grace before he loosened up his sound with a funky wah wah phrase. His tune “Tidal Wave” offered a fresh new sound before he invited up a singer named Silvia to vocalize over his brisk, accented guitar notes.
Coming up to play Resonator guitar was long time music scene musician Lew Bones. He opened his set with a melodic take on “Sympathy For The Devil” before singing real purty, home-on-the-range country style with Neil Young’s “Down By The River, his high pitched vocals nailing the emotive qualities of this 1970s gem.
Uncle Joey Fingers Band was a duo that started with an instrumental. Knobby low end and classy elegance from the electric piano entranced everyone in attendance with their arrangement. The duo reached everyone’s soft spot with Bruce Springsteen’s “Girls In Their Summer Clothes,” a tender ode to growing older. Bass player Al Houston sang lead vocals on Tom Petty’s “Good To Be King” for a plaintive tone. The duo’s take on “The Letter” created another special moment, with people dancing to this very familiar and very personal and very universal song of rejection.
Long time Geezer Garage Night band Tokyo Tramps took the stage to play their blues songs, blues flavored rock songs, and Jimi Hendrix inspired instrumental passages. Satoru Nakagawa’s exciting lead guitar phrase on the Santana arrangement of “Black Magic Woman” lead his trio through all of that song’s changes and sections with his crying, emotive lead guitar work. Tokyo Tramps next went into their irresistible hit single “Jeffrey Jive,” released a few years before their current If I Die Tomorrow album. Nakagawa’s wife and Tokyo Tramps bass player Yukiko Fujii was fantastic on that song’s call and response chorus: “Jeffrey Jive/Jeffrey Jive/Who dat/Who dat”
Nakagawa pulled his trio and his audience into the Jimi Hendrix version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.” Freewheeling, high pitched lead guitar phrasing carried this one beautifully in the open space of Geezer’s lawn in front of a huge pond. Ms. Fujii was a hit on the Motown gem “Heatwave,” her harmonies ushering in a touch of yesteryear with her sly talents at the microphone.
Another Tokyo Tramps highlight was when they went into Fats Domino’s “I’m Walking.” Nakagawa, a huge fan of the New Orleans style and its second line tradition, gave every note a Cajun gumbo flavor. Then he blew into Muddy Water’s “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” without a moment to catch his breath. His guitar parts were snappy and crunchy, playing a phrase that was full of forward momentum. Fujii’s bass solo was full of perky notes which she nimbly moved up and down her instrument. Tyler’s drum solo maintained a steady cool as he smacked out a rush of fills and rolls and rapid fire cowbell licks.
Fujii purred with sultry appeal at the microphone, crooning Tokyo Tramps original number “Mystery Man.” Her unaffected vocal timbre giving this original an edge. Joey Fingers joined Tokyo Tramps for a lively take on Stephen Stills’ classic “Feelin’ All Right” with Bayou Boy playing a mean washboard to a marching beat. This quintet moved into “When The Saints Go Marching In” with more than a slight New Orleans flavor as Mr. Fingers played a lilting Louisiana melody line on accordion.
That was the end of my visit to the Greedy Geezer Garage Night Annual BBQ. My apologies to the remainder of the bands scheduled to perform, but my family was expecting me back in Boston within the hour. The group of players assembled as I left the Geezer family compound was in fine shape and playing up a storm of good music.
Greedy Geezer has done it again. His recent annual backyard BBQ version of his Greedy Geezer’s Garage Night was another success. He kept a good amount of people well fed with his fine smoked meats and a table full of many other foods. His assembly of musicians kept everyone entertained during this fun, music community event in his backyard.