Saturday Night Legends
Classic soul at the Continental; rock homage at the Saxon.
By Margaret Moser,
4:39PM, Tue. Sep. 4, 2007
Down at the Saxon Pub early Saturday evening, a quartet of music veterans known as the Dead Pyrates Society payed homage to old school rock. They’re seasoned rockers, all of them – tough as iron nails and hoisting the black flag in memory of those who’ve passed, including Bucky Ballard, Keith Ferguson, and Uncle John Turner. John Staehely’s presence is enough to give them platinum credentials – he’s played guitar with Bob Dylan, Spirit, Robert Palmer, and JoJo Gunne, which also featured the booming bass of Jimmie Randall, who’s played alongside drummer Mark Hamilton for years. Add a wise-cracking Keith Richards on guitar and what more could you ask for?
Did I say Keith Richards? It’s hard to ignore Keef’s influence when guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Joe Kennedy played him in a Stones cover band for years. If any one of those elements were different, the Pyrates might come off as ponderous. Instead, they roll like a well-lubed rock machine – big, heavy, and solid. As we headed out, the Pyrates were singing a rocket-fueled version of “The Eyes of Texas” that must have made Gabriel set down his horn and wish he played guitar.
Meanwhile, over at the Continental Club, Spot Barnett was supposed to sit in with Archie Bell, but he’d been misdirected upstairs, where Mike Flanigin plays the Hammond. When told he was wanted downstairs, Barnett shook his head. “I’m staying here with the B-3.”
Archie Bell didn’t seem to mind. He followed Barbara Mason, who brought the house down. She looked lovely, sounded like 1.5 million bucks, and kicked ass on the Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and her own sweet Sixties soul hit, “Are You Ready?” Bell didn’t seem to miss Spot’s sax as he exhorted the crowd to do the “Tighten Up,” his trademark song and dance, and simmered other chestnuts like “Stand by Me” and “Soul Man.” He was all energy, fire, and vocal bluster that had the audience keeping pace with every note of the Allen Oldies Band backing him.
Barbara Lynn's no stranger to Austin but every one of her performances is pure gold. As she tipped her guitar neck to the right, she let loose with that velvet voice on Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” then scooted into “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Misty Blue,” her signature “You’ll Lose a Good Thing,” and her song the Stones filched, “Oh Baby, (We Got a Good Thing Goin’).” (I swear I'm not looking for Stones connections here. They are just presenting themselves.)
Roy Head was the man of the night. Bouncing around backstage like someone had wound him up and broken the key, he bounded onstage and ripped into “Just a Little Bit,” Shaky Ground,” “Linda Lu,” and a killer “She’s About a Mover,” before lighting “Treat Her Right” on fire. For that, Roy dropped on the ground, spun, and did the Gator. He also drafted Dan Buie, original piano man for the Traits, onstage for a preview of their reunion gig later this fall.
As Head wrapped up his spectacular set, who came strolling downstairs and cuddled up next to Barbara Lynn but the dapper Spot Barnett. “Would you take our picture?” Barbara smiled sweetly to me and held out her cell phone.
Yes, ma’am. Anything for a legend.