Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Muse Euterpe

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord...

I didn't want to like Matisyahu. I figured he was a gimmick. I figured he was a poseur. I was wrong. The guy is good. He is sincere. The music flows out of him and it touches the souls of those around him. It is rare these days to see this type of raw emotion - it hits you like a wave, knocks you down and drags you along. No matter how hard you struggle to free yourself - it is futile.

Unfortunately, the Chicago show is sold out so I will not experience his performance live. A live performance by a musician like this can be magical. I remember a night about fifteen years ago, in a different life...

Summertime in Champaign, Illinois. Evening. A light drizzle outside. Lonnie Brooks, a veteran of the Chicago Blues scene is performing at the Blind Pig Pub. The place is packed, but the (future) wife and I manage to squeeze in.

The band is on fire. Lonnie is doing lead vocal, his son Wayne playing rhythm, his other son Ronnie playing the lead guitar. The guitar solo takes off. It's no longer confined by the rigid scale of the blues. The notes are soaring, slurring, fighting one another to get out into the humid air. The crowd is silenced - mesmerized.

Suddenly, Ronnie jumps up on the bar. He is wearing a wireless hookup. He walks down the length of the bar, amid the stunned audience, the guitar squealing and roaring as the tremolo bar bends the notes this way and that, then another whirlwind of notes as the fingers tap frantically on the fretboard.

Now he jumps off the bar and walks out of the bar. Ronnie is standing on the street, head back, eyes closed, the guitar wailing, a few stunned pedestrians caught in the rainy street stop dead in their tracks.

Then the spell is broken. Ronnie smiles, quickly walks back inside the bar, and without missing a beat, walks back to the stage as the crowd parts in front of him. The band picks up the song again and the set continues on its way.



Blogger dbs said...

I'll take Sublime (sort of the anti-Matisyahu).

It is an amazing phenomenone, though. This may be the first reggae-hop album to break the top 50 (Stubb's is at #34.) Beats the heck out of James Blunt, anyway.

The Lonnie Brooks thing sounds really peak. I had a somewhat similar experiance hearing Snooks Eaglin at the Rock & Bowl in New Orleans. (It's possible that I heard Lonnie at Blue Chicago a few years back, but I may be confusing him with someone else.)

March 16, 2006 4:35 PM  

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