|Garry Tallent at the Magic Bag in Ferndale, MI. April 25, 2017|
That's Garry Tallent, sideman, Bruce's longest-term bandmate. Tuesday night, for the first time I got to see Garry step out to sing at the front mic, play lead guitar (who knew?) and lead a band. He's on tour supporting his album "Break Time", and he's pretty darn good in all of those roles.
Garry has put together a first-rate 7 piece band, and he gave each band member space to take lead in spots. If you're hoping to hear a lot of Springsteen covers, forget it; there's only one in the setlist. They weren't missed; by the time of Garry's 3rd song, "Ooh La La," the show had taken off. "Hillbilly Train" (see below) featured Mark Whitaker on stand-up bass.
The setlist of about 2 dozen songs combined Garry's originals with instrumental and rockabilly covers, ranging from Chuck Berry ("Brown-Eyed Handsome Man") to the Ventures ("Walk Don't Run") and Buddy Holly ("Crying, Waiting, Hoping"). Garry introduced the songs, often sprinkling in humorous tidbits. He introduced "Charlene" by noting it had been a "coolest song in the world" on Little Steven's Underground Garage, but that he "had an inside connection." For "From Small Things," he noted that Clarence had routinely requested it, and that Garry wondered if it "was because there was no saxophone, so he got to take a rest." About all the evening could have used, really, was a few more paying customers. This show deserves it.
After the show, Garry graciously signed autographs for whoever wanted; when I presented a copy of Southside Johnny's "Messing With the Blues" album that Garry produced, he exclaimed, "so you're the one who bought it!" He also answered a question my bass-playing son had for him: "Jazz or precision?"
Garry haas 10 more show dates in the northeast US before heading over to England. See it if you can!