Microwave Dave & The Nukes rocked the docks all week.
First things first. If you're reading this before mid afternoon Friday, log off your electronic device post haste - like, yesterday - and get thee behind me to Sunset (Avenue, and Grill). There’s still hope for you. Microwave Dave And The Nukes have one more gig to go before they go back to 'bama. If you missed this deadline - well, you missed it and are hopeless. This blues ("blues and blues byproducts") trio reliably return to the aforementioned venue and sister station Micky Fins annually during White Marlin Open week. Which is curious given that they are competing with the biggest event of the OC summer season but I suppose that’s the point, to get us away from the scales and into these two restaurants. One of which conveniently suspended their normally good deal happy hour (half price!) this week, and the other's specials end when the band begins. How nice.
Dave and his two mates played every day for six days - for four hours straight (half hour intermezzo excepted). Not bad for an old guy. Now, drummers, as a rule, are required to possess the stamina of the energizer bunny but comparatively (to his two partners) young man James Alan Irvin just keeps going...and going... Gone, daddy, real gone. He's a show unto himself. "Flair" was not just what Jennifer Aniston's waitress was required to wear in Mike Judge's modern classic comedy "Office Space", it defines this cat's kinetic Style, with a capitol S. And he's as infectiously amimated - aesthetically and chopswise - on the last song as on the first. And they do dozens of songs in the hour and a half sets. As a drummer myself in a past life (before I moved to a condo, where Bonzo/Keith Moon/Cozy Powell/Ian Paice- that is, LOUD - influenced drummers are frowned upon and then evicted) a comparison to Ginger Baker's (he turns 77 next Friday) tribal African beat is not unwarranted, updated, er, backdated to fifties rockabilly revival - Slim Jim Phantom on expanded kit perhaps. My deal was I got bored after a half hour of practicing. This cat's still stoked with the sticks after four hours. Yeah, its sickening. I’m jealous, yes. Especially considering Irvin is almost as good on guitar and fronts his own band on the side.
But this is the Microwave Dave show and the veteran (literally - he served in Vietnam, thank you for your service to our country, sir!) bluesman calls the tune. Again literally - there is no setlist, every performance is by the seat of his pants - overalls actually - as he calls out options to be agreed by three man committee between selections. So, like The Grateful Dead every gig is singular. So what follows is an approximation of a typical extended appearance, a composite of Monday afternoon's and Wednesday evening's marathons, to invoke an Olympic reference.
Any explicatory prefatory band notes are reñdered redundant by my heartical from last year, titled similarly to this one and located by clicking ‘view all archives’ at the bottom of the Sonic Notes page. So we join the gig in progress.
"Key To The Highway" was a fine mellowing down easy opening jam to the week's proceedings. Originally Big Bill Broonzy, then Little Walter at Chess, brought to the white folk by Eric Clapton in 1970. James introduces his Whipper Layton from SRV's Double Trouble shuffle right away. "Hey Maryann" by Ray Charles conversely featured a dry acoustic snare and tambourine on the hihat - more Irvin signatures - and lots of twang on MicDave's solo. "Look At That Cadillac" was on The Stray Cats' third album, 1983. (Chicken) "Scratch My Back" could've well been Muddy Waters on the spoken vocals, but no it was Dave with his vibrato- guitar, not voice. Next, piano blues without piano BT Roosevelt Sykes, The Honeydripper, who inspired that less than inspired early eighties supergroup. Leslie guitar stands in for keys. Give the drummer some: that famous Sandy Nelson song from 1961, "Let There Be Drums" - indeed! The last song on the last album, 2011's Last Time That I Saw You (it’s on Spotify, and it’s pretty damn good), was a Hawaiian cum American Indian instro called "Rafferty". This is the point where the bluesman switches to a Flying V and I'm gobsmacked by the dichotomous cognitive dissonance of these plangent dulcet tones from an instrumental model made famous by Jimi Hendrix's screaming solos at the Isle Of Wight a month before he died, Diamond Head's Brian Tatler, and from there Metallica. But I shouldn’t be surprised by anything Dave does by now. Impressed, yes. "I Can’t Dance": slide showcase from the man. Bottleneck that is. (Too) brief shimmering intro - bedazzling even- before sliding into "Shake It", which ultimately left me bereft with blues balls in its abbreviation. Furry Lewis from Memphis: "Casey Jones" circa '30, storytellin’ railroad blues from the depression, dawn of a genre. Led Zeppelin could have done it in 1970 on side two of 3.
"Wouldnt Lay My Guitar Down" begins set two in doubletime with some old Dave originals, like "Wait For You Baby", a standard twelve bar blues. Another (lengthier) glistening glissando staccato intro into "She’s Too Good For Me" with a sticky jam center - tasty. Johnny Shines' "Mister Highway Man" startled me with a bolt from the blues Rush worthy mid song halftime change. "Sugar Bee" was another leslied shuffle. "When The Levee Breaks" was one of the few credits Bonzo earned. It's so iconic, it's a challenge of a tough sell without that canonic crush; as The Nukes interpret it, it's not the drummer's song but bassist Rick Godfrey's as he double duties it to a blues harp workout. A welcome reconstruction. The next instrumental with its staccato and arpeggio - dare I say - compared with Johnny Marr and "The Draize Train". The stalwart rhythm section was not unlike Andy Rouarke and Mike Joyce. This segued into a Dick Dale-esque jam that continued on a Jimi-esque joint before a trip to Hawaii. May I interject at this juncture, this was possibly the most somnificent half hour of live music I have ever been present at the creation of on Delmarva? Equally astonishing was a cover of The Yardbirds' 1966 "Over Under Sideways Down" in this year that I write my continuing series on the fiftieth anniversary of music's greatest year. "Rumble", over familiar though it is was the apposite intro to Last Time That I Saw You's rumbustious "Vagabundo", which James made seem like was written for and around his triplets. Thus beginneth an hour of stellar jamming that concluded with the five year old "All Night Boogie" and could only be rivalled locally by Delaware's own blues power trio Lower Case Blues: better technicians but too many standard covers, although originals are comparably listenable.
Surely these fine musicians were ill served for their efforts by a challenged view away from the bay and toward your scrawny scribe and bibulous blond boy for four hours, as this was my time to shine, in the sun at an afternoon show. So they mercifully only had to deal with me for an hour and a half two days later at a six o'clock start. As I rise before the buttcrack of dawn, I must flee by sundown lest I turn into a pumpkin. So here's set one.
Dave brought his guitar arsenal but imho the Strat sounds best. So rich. Compare to the cigar box and two Flying Vs, one purple, one peanutbutter tan and brown two-tone. Yes, this band is just am all-around fun time. All aboard for Fun Time, as another guy named James sang.
This time we were treated to not one but two opening jams, one a standard twelve bar, the second doubletime. "Meet Me At The Bottom" - Howlin Wolf cum "Down At The Bottom" crunch. Another blues titan, Tampa Red and "Anna Lee": slow twelve bar with reverb. The solo made me grin like a tarded cheshire cat. And I’m not easily impressed. Tanx, Dave. Los Lobos: "If I Say", doubletime shuffle. The 2011 album's "Alabama Saturday Night" demands that cigar box guitar - smaller and dissimilar to Bo's. Shouldn’t this song be exclusive to the title time? I’m just sayin’. "She's Too Good For Me" again - this is hard rock, not blues! I can dig it. "Highway 49" is not Bob Dylan's Highway but screamin’ blues. A, out of control off the chain and down the street shuffle ensued before being dialed down by some set ending Hawaiian guitar chill.
Please indulge my arrogant ("No Substitute For Arrogance" - Joe Perry, 1981) opinion piece in closing. I've a boot of a Misfits gig from 1981 where the incomparable Danzig says thanks to the opening band and follows it up with this gem: "everyone who wasn't here is an asshole". This was the best week for live music in Ocean City history. It was an agonizingly cogitated decision to miss reggae champions Zion at Fager’s Island Tuesday and White Marlin Open Wednesday, and my buds Funk Shue at the scales Thursday. I chose a band that's only here once a year. But if you didn't catch them or the two locals this week...I got nothing for you. As Glenn said...
But again, there's hope for you. Also Friday afternoon: sway with the Shue as they bring da funk at the Plim Plaza Caribbean pool bar at one. That is if you want to stay this side of the bridge. But I'll be back on Sunset. Next week Fager’s hosts Zion again, boozeday 2sday at 5:30. And local bluegrass/Dylan and The Dead fanatic Nate Clendenen's Eastern Electric is downtown at Sunset Park on the bay Thursday at, yes, sunset. Be there or be square! Cheers!
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