You Are Here
- That's Chuck fuckin' Berry! (Blueberry Hill, The Loop)
Jan 18 / 2006
By Timothy Lane
Then Chuck Berry comes out on stage Chuck fuckin' Berry! dressed in baggy pleated pants, a wild shirt and a polished bolo tie that glistens under the lights, his hair brushed back, looking like the coolest thing you've ever seen, sounding as beautiful and familiar as your own mother's voice. There he is the human personification of the music that changed the world, goofing off with his band which looks pretty unglamorous comparatively ordinary guys who just happened to be walking down Delmar when someone handed them instruments, said, "Think you could play these things, like, right now?".
There he is, with guitar, delivering cavalcades of the distinctive sound that made him famous, making it look too easy.
But he's working. The sweat streaming down his face testifies to that. What do you do, he asks, if you get an itch but you're playing guitar with both hands?
Crowd laughs. He could make any joke and the crowd would laugh. Because, well, he's Chuck fuckin' Berry!
Imagine what it must've been like in 1955 imagine you're some knucklehead kid, bored to the point of simmering outrage, made a halfwit by the tedium of your environment, driving along in your dad's 1952 Ford and "Maybellene" comes on the radio and you hear it for the first time. It must've seemed like the world turned different colors or maybe that was the moment when the world went color.
So why doesn't he play it?
Letters column: "Chuck Fkin' Berry"
Jan 26 / 2006
By Charles E. Berry Jr
Hail! Hail! Last week's "You Are Here" was really, really funny. Hats off to Tim Lane for having the same attitude many of the patrons of Blueberry Hill on Chuck Berry night have. I read the article to my son with the expletives and his eyes lit up and he jumped to attention. My wife on the other hand did not like the language being used and made it known. I tried to explain to her it was the inflection using the word but she was not going for it. I substituted the errant Fkin' with "expletive" and I finished the story.
Tim has captured the moment well. He has the best backing band behind him ever (with the exception of his original bandmates Johnnie Johnson, Ebby Hardy and occasionally Willie Dixon; everyone agrees with that). The Chuck Berry Blueberry Hill concert series has become a near institution in St. Louis. People from all over the world come to see him play at Blueberry Hill. I've seen the passports and round-trip tickets to prove it. I've also seen some of these same people in Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland in their hometowns, to remove all doubt. Many of Mr. Rock & Roll's local fans keep coming back for more each month. They know they will not see the same show. Everything is spontaneous, from what songs are played to who gets some (a solo) during a song. His shows are more an art with a big piece of science thrown in for flavor. A new experiment can be added at a moment's notice and a jam session breaks out. Or a note-for-note rendition of one of the hundreds of classics could be waiting. It does not matter; Mr. Rock & Roll will have it waiting for you as it's transmitted from his brain to his fingertips.
Drummer Keith Robinson is the newest to the band, but it's like he's been there forever. With the fluidness of the Mississippi and the ear of an NSA eavesdropper, Keith picks up everything and lets it melt right into the sticks and his feet. Mr. Robinson has played with just about everyone on the planet, and it shows. Check him out during "Nadine", you'll understand. Keyboardist Bob Lohr has been all over the world and mastered the instrument long ago. A veteran player of over eight years with Mr. Rock & Roll himself proves it. Mr. Rock & Roll loves to challenge and respond to Bob's playing and he sticks in the groove perfectly. Jim Marsala is there anything to say? He's been there for over 30 years, keeping the beat, reading that big left hand on the neck of that 355, finding the key before a note has been played. This is the man that keeps the sidemen and woman in the cut and ready for anything. James Brown would have loved to have this guy in his band. Upbeat/downbeat on the one OR the four, Jimmy is right there helping the Captain guide the ship.
The lovely vocalist and harmonica player never looks like she just came in after walking down Delmar rather from a buyer's viewing at the next big fashion trend for Neiman Marcus. With the blues in her veins from her mother and rock & roll in her arteries for Mr. Rock & Roll himself. The silky flow of her voice and the wail of the harmonica proves Ingrid Berry Clay has what it takes to mesmerize and entertain a crowd with her lifelong love of her dad and the music he's given the world.
Then the court jester, the guy that's still figuring all the music stuff out. From a truly horrid guitarist a few years ago to one that's starting to understand the power of an electric guitar and how it can sing. Mr. Rock & Roll's son, usually with a Stratocaster and sometimes an ES-345, his goal is to learn from the master, inject his own bit of flavor and stay in the cut with everyone else. He thinks he's still the worst player on the planet, but the people in the crowd are telling him otherwise. He's starting to get a bit more used to this rock & roll and blues stuff. Other musicians he really respects and admires are telling him he's getting pretty good at it, so it must just be his own self-critique telling him to keep pushing.
Most of us do dress just like we were walking down Delmar; for me in many cases I had been walking down Delmar earlier that same day. The fans could care less how we look, just as long as we play well and don't get in the way of who they came to see. The man that always gives more than you came to see.
To answer Tim's pondering, "So why doesn't he play it?": To quote from the movie Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll: "That's how Chuck Berry plays it!". One of Mr. Rock & Roll's big fans, John Lennon, put it very well: "Oh my God, Chuck Berry, my hero".
I agree but at the same time can top that one. To my father, the coolest Dad on the planet, from his son:
Charles E. Berry Jr
Chuck Berry concert documentary coming to DVD
Jan 26 / 2006
By Thomas K. Arnold
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Image Entertainment has secured DVD rights to "Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll", the seminal Chuck Berry movie masterminded by Keith Richards.
The firm will release two-disc and four-disc editions with never-before-seen footage, documentaries, interviews and other bonus materials on June 27.
The 1987 film, which captures a St. Louis concert commemorating Berry's 60th birthday the year before, features such stars as Eric Clapton, Etta James, Robert Cray, Linda Ronstadt and Julian Lennon.
The film also incorporates interviews with an occasionally testy Berry and his family members, the late Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers and Bo Diddley.
Also featured is footage of a performance by Berry and his backup band of the 1950s at the long-gone Cosmopolitan Club in East St. Louis, Ill. The film was directed by Taylor Hackford, who most recently produced and directed the Oscar-winning biopic "Ray".
The four-disc set will contain more than seven hours of new material. Highlights, according to Hackford, include "intimate jam sessions" with Clapton, Cray, James, Richards, Berry and Berry's late keyboardist sidekick Johnnie Johnson, extended interviews with some of rock's founding fathers and a conversation between Berry and The Band's Robbie Robertson in which Berry talks about his prison experiences for the first time.
BEST BETS: A daily list of Central Texas' best events - Duck walk over to the Paramount
Jan 28 / 2006
By Ginger Cowles
Rock'n'roll icon Chuck Berry is in Austin tonight for the second installment of the 2006 Austin Winter Nights series.
"It is a huge honor to open for him", Clark said by phone. "He definitely influenced me once I started playing guitar, hearing his early rock'n'roll stuff".
Berry, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in 1926 in St. Louis. Although he never has won a Grammy Award, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1985 Grammys.
Clark, who turns 22 on February 15, is one of the best guitarists in town. He's been busy composing music for the film "Lenexa, 1 Mile" which is scheduled for release this year.
THE NEXT BEST:
Chris Thile of the Grammy-winning bluegrass trio Nickel Creek (which, by the way, is scheduled to play South by Southwest in March) takes over Cactus Cafe tonight.
The mandolin player's most recent solo CD, "Deceiver" has received rave reviews. In fact, all of his works have been praised. Thile, who turns 25 next month, is a former child prodigy whose innovative style has earned him honors such as 2001's Mandolin Player of the Year from the Instrumental Bluegrass Music Association.
Tonight, veteran bluegrass guitarist Mike Marshall joins him onstage for both shows. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Cactus Cafe, 24th and Guadalupe streets. $20-$24. www.texasboxoffice.com or 477-6060.
The Long Fringe portion of Frontera Fest tonight focuses on mysterious murders in Mexico. "Among the Sand and Smog" is a play written by J. Jimenez-Smith and directed by Jamie Keener. It explores a real-life mystery that involves more than 300 female victims of rape and murder.
BEST OF THE REST:
Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular 8:30 p.m. Austin Music Hall, 208 Nueces St. $32-$34. www.gettix.net or (866) 443-8849.
Cory Morrow 9 p.m. Country. Blake Powers and Fallon Franklin open. Gruene Hall, 1281 Gruene Road in New Braunfels. $15. www.gruenehall.com or (830) 629-5077.
Hairy Apes BMX and The Dead Kenny G's 9 p.m. Jazz. The Parish, 214 E. Sixth St. $12. frontgatetickets.com.
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