Rick Danko and Richard Manuelhelped create musical history with the Band, and Blondie Chaplin did the same with the Beach Boys. Now some musicians would view such history as a millstone to either cast off or stoop under. But at the Bayou last night, Danko, Manuel and Chaplin played with their history as if it were a striped beachball. Nothing is more exciting than seasoned pros charged up, and last night was a high point of this concert season.
"We've been living in California for seven years now," said a bouncing, grinning Danko, "and it wasn't until I got back here that I remembered what spring fever is all about." Danko was clearly the leader as the quintet did one of his originals, four Band tunes and five oldies. Chaplin added a jagged original and the Beach Boy's "Sail On, Sailor." The three blended boiserous harmonies over the chunky rhythms. Highlights included Manuel's soulful ballad vocal on Bobby Bland's "Share Your Love," Danko's boogie bass line on J.J. Cale's "Crazy Mama," and Danko's note-stretching singing on "Unfaithful Servent."
Washington's Bill Holland contributed his fair share to the evening's spirit in the opening set. He showed off the songs from his new album, "It's About Time." Rent's Due, his backing quartet, churned up a New Orleans-style funk as Holland sang his literate tales of the urban low live. Larry Strothre snuck in jazzy sax solos between Holland's rumbling blues vocals.