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REVIEWS

Posted August 11, 1997
JUKE JOINT JUMPIN' IN THE BIG APPLE
By Larry Shell (e-mail: sheltone@ix.netcom.com)

The only fireworks in town were not down by the harbor in New York City this 4th of July as the Rodeo Bar presented one of its finest line-ups to date: Josie Kreuzer, King Memphis and Wayne "The Train" Hancock!

The air was filled with the scent of burning candles (or was that pomade) as the boppin' beauty. Josie Kreuzer, took the stage, guitar in hand, backed by the lead guitar, stand-up bass, and drummer of King Memphis. Josie K. started off with the title track of her debut album, "Hot Rod Girl," and several other tracks from the CD. Then she surprised the crowd with a smoking cover of The Blasters tune "Red Rose." Other tunes included "Runaway Train" and a slightly faster version of Sonny Burgess' "Ainšt Got A Thing," which suited me just fine as that song is meant to be played at 100 miles per hour! The half hour set ended with another surprise as this cool kitten belted out The Johnny Burnette Triošs version of "The Train Kept A-Rollin'." This Rockabilly gal has got it as far as I'm concerned. To paraphrase Antoine "Fats" Domino, I think Išm in love (again)!

After a twenty minute breather, King Memphis took the stage as a complete unit with the addition of their wild frontman ­ lead singer/rhythm guitarist, Kris Eckhardt, and proceeded to rock the joint till the roof shook with one shakin' song after another. I was enthralled by the intensity of these cats as they did faves like "Crazy Alien Chick," "Red Hot & Ready," and "62 Ragtop". Lead guitarist Matt Robbins' fingers flew off the strings as he became possessed with the spirits of the greats like Cliff Gallup and Scotty Moore. Matt also sang about half a dozen or so tunes to great applause. They proceeded to play for over an hour. The kicker to me was that their regular bass player could not make this tour so they had a substitute, Johnny Sciascia, of Boston's Crank-Tones who was just great! I had seen the band at We Wanna Boogie '96 and was greatly impressed, but this time the boys proceeded to blow me away with their intensity and sheer musical ability! Drummer supreme Gary Burton kept the beat-a-boogie going non-stop until the end!

After about a half-hour, Wayne Hancock took the stage to thunderous applause and launched into several acoustic numbers including the title tune of his first album, "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs" and the classic "Ain't Nobody's Business." Then as King Memphis had a chance to cool down from their set, they once again took the stage sans their singer /rhythm guitarist to back up Wayne. I should point out that this was the first time Wayne has been backed by a full rockabilly band and I should further interject here that King Memphis did an incredible job of backing up both Wayne and Josie, both of whom they had only met the day before! These guys are pros with a capital "P" in every sense! The bass player, the aforementioned Johnny S., deserves special note as he cooked big time! Even Wayne was entranced on more than one tune by this real gone slap-happy bassman!

I had not had the treat of seeing Wayne live before and I was blown away by this hot hillbilly boy! The first tune with full band was a cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" that knocked me out! Incredible! Wayne continued to wow the crowd with tunes including "Johnny Law" from his new CD that will be released at the end of August on Miles Copelandšs Ark 21 label. Wayne again surprised me when he launched into Johnny Horton's "North To Alaska" and a couple of songs later did a stompin' rendition of "Honky Tonk Man" which drove the crowd in a frenzy! Wayne truly made every cover his own. I could have listened to him all night! Wayne then asked Josie K to come up for a couple of tunes and she belted out Barbara Pittman's "I Need A Man" and a country tune that I did not get the title of. Then the lead singer of King Memphis, Kris Eckhardt, was brought up and he kept the joint jumping with "Do The Bop" and "Just Because," the latter done in duet with lead guitarist Matt Robbins. The music kept coming with more Wayne H. on Hank Williams' "Move It On Over," Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City," a couple of Hank Williams tunes, his own "Double A Daddy," and "Juke Joint Jumping." A cat standing on a bench near me kept shouting out Wayne's World and this night it truly was, the crowd was in the palm of his hand, it was his night, his world. What a wonderful place to be!

The Wayne-a-thon went on for close to 90 minutes if not more when King Memphis left the stage. Wayne finished the night acoustically with several songs including a boss country blues rendition of the classic "Milkcow Blues." It didnšt need to get rocked up as Mr. Hancock was already real gone! The evening finished up with a ditty he composed at the age of eleven and then it was all over. The man was cheered loudly after every song and deservedly so! In this age of pre-fabricated country stars, Wayne "The Train" Hancock is the real deal. If hešs coming to a club near you, do not miss it as he puts on one hell of a show!

-Copyright 1997 Larry Shell - All Rights Reserved.