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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Old Folks Boogie

When the band Little Feat first recorded this song Pam and I had just turned 30, and being "old folks" seemed a long way off. We saw them live at about that time, and I doubt that we considered the possibility we would be attending a Little Feat concert again almost 40 years in the future. But there we were at the Warner Theater Monday night with our friend Stan.

Entering the theater and passing by the busy bar downstairs, we noted that most of the crowd seemed in our age bracket. When the band came on stage and ripped into the opening song, "Rocket in my Pocket", all us old folks cheered and whistled and absorbed the power of the music for the next two hours. Many of the songs brought the audience to its feet dancing to the band's infectious rhythms. The crowd was enthusiastic, bordering on rowdy (fueled possibly by that busy bar), and that's the right atmosphere for rock and roll. I was proud of my peers for retaining that spirit.

I recently read a book review of a biography of rock pioneer Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records which was the first to record Elvis Presley. Although it sounds like an interesting book, I was most struck by reviewer Louis Menand's description of the early days of rock and roll and his grasp of the music's appeal:  "Rock and roll feels uninhibited, spontaneous, and fun. There's no show-biz fakery coming between you and the music." What he says about the early days still strikes me as essentially true even though beginning in the sixties there became exceptions: "Rock and roll did not have a message, unless it was: 'Let's party (and if you can't find a partner, use a wooden chair)'."

That concert certainly was uninhabited fun, and it's power has stayed with me even two days later. Although death has taken some of the group's founders and some current members have troubling medical conditions, Little Feat remains a great live band.

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