Nick Moss & The Flip Tops are returning to the scene of one of their greatest triumphs, having lined up two shows at Chan's in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and yes, thank God, they're recording.
Last time they did this, they turned their set into an Album of the Year nominee at the Blues Music Awards. That's a lot to live up to. How do you preemptively disarm any critics who might accuse you of repeating yourself? Unless I miss my guess, you begin by ignoring such rubbish. Beyond that, you have to do something to raise the stakes. I think they have that covered.
When the band takes the stage for those two shows on July 18-19, they'll be joined onstage by Lurrie Bell. Yes, you read that right! Lurrie freakin' Bell. Lurrie Bell is the son of Chicago blues royalty. His father, Carey, was one of the great harp players of his generation. Among his many credits, Carey Bell played often with Muddy Waters.
Nick Moss may not have that same great bloodline, but he learned the Chicago tradition from the Muddy Waters tree himself having toured and played with Muddy's #2, Jimmy Rogers. Moss has toured with longtime Waters' cohort Pinetop Perkins, played with Buddy Guy, and hosts of others who helped build that tradition. As he told The Birmingham News before the band's show at City Stages earlier this month, "I can't help but sound like I sound," he said. "I like all blues music, and I can play all those different styles, but when I play it, it's going to come out as Chicago blues."
If Ed McMahon comes to my door between now and July 18, I know where you'll find me. If Ed shows up at my apartment or if I get really drunk and start doing Janis Joplin karaoke — a more frightening thought I cannot imagine — I won't be asking the Lord to buy me a Mercedes-Benz. No, sir. I don't want fancy cars, designer drugs, or loose women. If I had a million dollars, I might still eat Kraft dinners but I'd be eating them 1,111 miles north of here. By the way, am I the only one who finds it sad that Ed McMahon is now sitting around hoping Ed McMahon knocks on his door with an over-sized check from Publisher's Clearinghouse?
I never followed The Dead or Phish- that wasn't my scene. I've always wanted to get tickets to one of my favorite bands for multiple nights and follow them around the country. It seems odd that a Fanboy like me has never done anything like that. The opportunity to see one of my favorites in a faraway place — a place I've never been — for a two-night stand where they're recording a live album? That's my idea of heaven here on earth! To be one of the voices in the crowd, captured cheering the band on? Come on! How great would that be? To have a real souvenir of the experience when the live album comes out? It doesn't get any better than that.
I've been telling myself that if I was younger I'd be packing my car and getting ready to go. I wish that were true of the younger version of me. I wish it were true of me now. The younger version of me would have been too scared to take something like that on by myself. As for me in the present tense, the body and mind are more willing than I might expect. The wallet, the wife, and the day job are less.
I checked the airfare and hotel rates in the area. I dared myself to do this one thrillingly stupid thing, and then common sense took hold. It's just not going to happen… for me. So, East Coast, I'm calling you out. It's all in your hands now. You have a chance to witness to classic nights of Chicago blues with one of the best bands on the circuit, featuring a pillar of the genre as a special guest. You have a chance to hear something special, to be a part of something special. This is your chance for a little piece of immortality. Don't let it slip away.
Nick Moss & The Flip Tops featuring Lurrie Bell play Chan's July 18-19.