Posted: Feb 25, 2006 11:07 pm
Full report? Stuff that legends are made of, my friends. Truly the substance that renders the dreams, despairs, and epiphonies of a VH1 "Behind the Music" or great ABC After School Special.
This "Madison and Avalon World Tour" of the Sons of Thunder began it's inaugural flight to greatness at a prompt 10:30. Unfortunately, this reporter can't claim to be one of the original fans from back in the old days, because I got there at about 10:45. This didn't stop me later, however from bragging to some folks who got there after me "Yeah, they were really great when you saw 'em, but you should have heard them at 11:00."
Loud and truly thunderous, the arrangements summoned up and tested the skillz each member to fill a musical skeleton with the meat of improv. Richard Martin, a veritable McGyver of music instruments, electronics, and contraptions, passively lead the supergroup on vocals and Banjitar. The drummer was excellent, and I heard he was found and picked up for the band in swaddling cloth at Yarbourough's Music Drum Dept., "kicking out some sweet Metallica fills" between the hours of 2-6 everyday. Joe T, of Rat Traps and "outjjumps kangaroos" fame, accompanied on guitar, and seemed to know how the songs went. Sam (who is taking a break from trying to re-form Hanoi Rocks and studio work with Mangina) took an active role in orchestrating the overall sound and time of the songs on bass wearing a white, puffy, long-sleeved shirt that couldn't seem to hide the pain and suffering inside. Also, some guy named Eric (who was in some band from the nineties, apparently, and had a minor hit in Nepal from his solo recording "Anybody Seen My Neighbor's Goat?") played some guitar and sang some.
These masters of music railed and reigned Pho Hoa Bin amid freshly rolled eggrolls, against a back drop of psychedelic lights and green laser beams. This wave of heavy and loud would have almost made me pass out, but I got distracted with my beer and contmplated looking directly at the laser beams for free eye surgery. It sounded like Capt. Beefheart sat in with Blue Oyster Cult in their darkest moments. The sonic onslaught culminated in a dizzying finish that I can tell you knocked everyone in the room to the floor, cowering, but I think I just made that up.
After the set, equipment was moved to cars, where I had an opportunity to talk to the band. They were huddled together in High-Five mode, and I congratulated them on a stellar performance. In unison, they all said "Of course it was, moron" and looked at the night sky. Then that Eric guy gave me the very last promotional CD, hand-crafted in magic marker "The Sons of Thunder". My thoughts immediately went to E-bay. I stepped back a bit, just to observe, and witnessed the gruesome details of "the break-up". Eric and Sam were having words. One thing led to another and eventually, before blows were bestowed, Eric shouted "That's it, Sam! You're out of the band!" I shed a tear. And by tear, I mean I went inside and plopped down another $2.50 for a beer and 50 cent tip.
Kazalok was pretty amazing. I confess, I don't think I have ever seen an electric autoharp. The Tambourene Girl and Drummer banged out a beat for the really tall, really skinny guitar player to undress to.
When their set was over, someone played the Macarena. And someone else turned it up really loud. And that's where I found Sam outside. He had been drinking. I pointed this out to him with my fourth beer bottle. He reminisced about the old days, that he was happier now to be living a domesticated life, he didn't miss the rock and roll lifestyle or being a Son of Thunder, and something else, but I had already walked away from him while he was still talking. As if, loser.
I only got to see the first three or four songs by Datadrums. I would have liked to hear Chuck's guitar and vocals a little louder, but I must say, I was genuinely impressed by some of their songs complexities. Bass player and Keyboardist were running circles around each other, and Chucks chords were furious and fast, but I couldn't hear him as well for some reason.
I went out side, and Sam was still talking. Yadda, yadda, yadda, maybe we'll do it again someday, yadda, yadda, I miss those guys, yadda, yadda...
And then, as if by some magic, Joe T came walking briskly past with equipment. "C'mon, man, we're playing Murphys!"
Wha? Could this be true? A reunion show?
Sam was stil talking, but I had already crossed the street to invesitgate. Indeed. It was on, and $5.00 was given to the doorman. I wandered in and out of the pub, speaking to old friends about the Sons of Thunder in their glory days. No one could believe this was happening. It was like "The Lizard King" had come back from the grave, and he wasn't event fat. Excitement filled the air. And by excitement, I mean more beer had been opened.
I was talking over the concept of a Sitar/mandolin band (sort of a East meets East Tennessee project) with Hemant when they took the stage. I commented to Hemant "Man, look at Sam. His hair is so white and long. Has it really been this long? So sad." Hemant informed me it was Miss Linda's wig. "Oh." I said.
This show was backed with rocking and improv as well, but with some strange new element. It was as if some songs were out of tune or out of time, and a few miscues were beset. I believe this is called "Jazz", though, and my music snob friends and I recognize "syncopation" when we hear it.
It went on and on and on, until they finished with the Sons of Thunder theme song. This rousing number had everyone on their feet (because some were leaving), and every person sang loudly to the chorus "SONS OF THUNDER!!!" And by everyone, I mean I drunkenly ran over to the microphone and yelled into it at the wrong part.
Truly, last night will live forever in the anals of Memphis Music History.
Memphis Flyer, you may feel free to re-print this excellent Rock n' Roll review.