There wasn't a mechanized bucking bronco in sight. Not a single bottle of beer littered the floor. And the closest most of the crowd had ever been to a steer was on a surf'n'turf platter at a Silver Spring steakhouse. But last night, Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee and the Urban Cowboy Band managed to turn the Kennedy Center Concert Hall into a rollicking country and western club.
Gilley (his Pasadena, Texas, bar became famous in the movie "Urban Cowboy") and his sidekick Lee presented heaping helpings of good ole Texas-style country music. Backed by their seven-piece group, they galloped through selections which featured moaning melodies accented with touches of rock, pop and blues.
Lee, the rougher of the two, growled out his songs in a husky voice while strumming away at his guitar. Like many of the "outlaw" musicians of the early '70s, he included harmonica and sax solos along with traditional country arrangements, producing a sound that flirted with pure rock 'n' roll.
Gilley on the other hand, was a slick showman, throwing out frisky tales and mixing pounding piano flourishes with smooth, wailing ballads.His material dealt with women and drinking, love and drinking, and lying and drinking and his set was best summed up by the title of one of his songs, "The More I Turn the Bottle Up, the Further Down I Go." It was pure soap-opera schlock and everyone loved it.
Mickey Gilley and the boys may have been a long way from home but for a short while, with their music and rowdy good cheer, they made Washington seem like Texas on the Potomac.