Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Booker T: A side of Green Onions

I never would have imagined seeing Booker T in Mount Vernon, Wash.

Not there's anything wrong with Mount Vernon. Nice, picturesque place in the middle of farm country, west of the mountains and east of the Sound. And the gorgeous, historic Lincoln Theatre has had a lot of talent on its stage.

But Booker T? The groove-master was a long way from home.

Though the May 16 show was nearly sold out, it still seemed like a "secret show" two days before his gig at Seattle's swanky Triple Door, more than an hour to the south. And man, what a secret show it was. It took a few numbers to get used to sitting in ancient theater seats instead of at a table with drinks, listening to Booker T's Hammond. And there was no dance floor to get on the good foot to "Green Onions." But again, what a night.

On tour to support his solo "Potato Hole" record, he essentially had a pick-up band of veteran hot-shots backing him (Neil Young and the Drive-By Truckers were on the disc). By the third number from "Potato Hole," the crowd forgot all about the DBTs, or the MGs, for that matter. Smokin' Telecaster player from Mavis Staples' band, trading off with a crafty Gibson player. A classic axe combination. Good rhythm section.  Hot band, no doubt inspired by who they were performing with.

And the new material was pretty good, too; R&B with an Americana undertone. "Reunion Time" really stood out, very pretty. Oh, and Booker T didn't disappoint everyone who came for a trip down memory lane: "Green Onions" and "Hip Hug Her" were fabulous; "Melting Pot" was mind-blowing. Booker T introduced every song, and subtly reminded us that he wrote "Born Under A Bad Sign." Incredible -- and the B3 legend sang it well! The closer, an extended jam of the all-time classic, "Time is Tight" got everyone up on their feet -- where they should have been the whole night. Encored with Tom Waits' "Get Behind the Mule."

Exceedingly gracious, Booker T lingered long after the show, signing and chatting with the fans. Yes, the man was a long way from home, but we all went home feeling very lucky that he made the trip.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Welcome to stevestav.com

Welcome to the launch of Stevestav.com. This actually more like a "beta version" or a tentative first step; it's a little drafty in here now, but it should fill up soon. 

I know very few journalists who have neat desks, or know the exact whereabouts of an old article. I wish I could be one of those rare writers, but I'm not. My wife has been bugging me for a couple of years to get my files together, and preserve them on a website. I've always replied, "I'm too busy writing this week's piece to look at old ones." 

But I've found it is important to take a look back, and more importantly, to preserve my work digitally. Heck, I've got to dig out all those negatives while there are still labs to process them! Scan articles before the paper becomes too brittle!

Like too many journalists, I've written for a number of publications that are no longer in business — starting with the late, great Seattle institution, The Rocket.

Other magazines and newspapers don't bother to maintain their online archives very well. More good reasons to get my act together and do this. 

However, Stevestav.com is not merely an archive — that aspect will probably take a year to complete. It will also be a collecting point, a directory of sorts, for new (or newer) arts and entertainment articles and photos that can be found elsewhere on the web.

Additionally, I will be re-editing some "classic" interviews. Some of those were unfortunately cut to fit available space, and other interviews contained some interesting comments and/or conversations that weren't appropriate or focused enough for the article, or a particular publication. So I'm going through a lot of tape; look for some expanded "director's cuts" in the future. And some never-published features will finally see the light of day. My news work? I'll keep that out of this site. Music and film is much more interesting — to me, at least.

And then there's the blog... this is the first entry, and probably the longest. Stevestav.com will have two regular features — on Friday's blog, I'll select a clip from YouTube for discussion; the "Mixtapes" section will offer commentary on some of my favorite — and recommended — playlists.

I'd like to thank my wife for her support, and for making this site possible with a lot of work that I don't have the brains for. New York hard-rock journalist Gail Worley and her great site, The Worley Gig, has been an inspiration. A special "shout out" goes to my friend John Shoemaker, an old-school Seattle music veteran whose advice and support has always been invaluable.

Thank you very much for reading, and please come again.

— Steve Stav 

Above: Billy Bob Thornton, in a better mood, and lovely Virginia Madsen, Seattle, 2007. Photo by Steve Stav.