Hank Williams Jr.
They could have rolled up the lawn and carted away half of the seats at Nissan Pavilion Saturday night and still accommodated the crowd that turned out to hear Hank Williams Jr. Yet what the audience lacked in size it more than made up for in noise.
Boisterous cheers and hoisted beers not only greeted most of Williams's songs, especially the full-tilt versions of "Born to Boogie" and "Family Tradition," but were evident every time the singer mentioned one of his favorite things or people. Of course, topping this seemingly endless list was Hank Sr., the country music legend who was saluted with "Move It On Over," "There's a Tear in My Beer" and other tunes. There were also affectionate allusions to the Confederacy, hard liquor, hunting, fishing, Harley-Davidsons, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and, inevitably, the NFL. Indeed, Williams has been performing for his rowdy friends so long, no button goes unpushed these days.
Despite a hiatus from the road last year, Williams hasn't altered his stage show. He still seems intent on displaying his versatility as a musician, playing piano and fiddle as well as electric and acoustic guitars, and even more determined to align himself with the country and rock musicians he admires. A fluent guitarist, he was often at his best when he let his fingers do the talking, whether casually reprising "Ain't Misbehavin' " during a mid-show solo set or sparking his band during a faithful version of "Sweet Home Alabama."
No doubt the biggest surprise for many fans was the sobriety checkpoint set up by police outside the venue after the concert.
The Icelandic Wind and Piano Trio, on its first North American tour, brought crisp competence to its concert at St. Paul's Lutheran Church Saturday evening with a program of unusual works.
The bassoon, largely relegated to comic lines in orchestral composition, is not often a featured instrument in chamber music. For a wind instrument, it has a considerable range (3 1/2 octaves), so in the hands of artist Kristin Jakobsdottir on a program showcasing double reeds, the audience received a crash course in the instrument's possibilities.
English composer Madeleine Dring's Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Keyboard, which explored pleasing but narrow variations of repeated passages, opened the evening. The first movement of this modern, imaginatively spare piece featured heraldic ascents by the bassoon and oboe, played by Eydis Franzdottir.
A world premiere Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano by Hroomar I. Sigurbjornssson conjured images of icebergs with sustained holds by the oboe not unlike foghorns, accompanied by low-toned waves of triplets on the bassoon. The moody third movement offered a showcase for pianist Unnur Vilhelmsdottir's nocturnal phrasing. Each of the five movements ended on an unresolved note, leaving an aura of quizzical dash.
A trio by the French composer Jean Francaix was the most sophisticated piece in the program, with bits of flippant instrumental dialogue that used the bassoon's range and flexibility. The Andante played out like a 1940s dance number, with the bassoon suggesting a saxophone.
The program ended with five Icelandic songs, charming folk anthems and celebrations of that island nation's imposing landscape and long summer sun.
--L. Peat O'Neil
Some in the crowd at the 9:30 club Saturday night were toddlers when Bad Brains played gigs in that very building (then WUST Music Hall) with groups like Scream and Beefeater. Others were at some of those shows, though, and turned up again to see the same musicians, now calling themselves Soul Brains.
Vocalist H.R., guitarist Dr. Know (a k a Gary Miller), drummer Earl Hudson and bassist Darryl Jenifer began their careers in Washington in 1979, and the sound they achieved Saturday night remained true to the punk and reggae that are the pillars of American hard-core.
Don't call this a reunion tour, because the band never officially broke up. It switched names ostensibly to purge negativity from its music, though rants like "Sailin' On," "Attitude" and "Coptic Times" still snarled.
H.R. appeared amused by the older material, flashing a peace sign as he sang. He occasionally drifted, but Miller's playing was as sharp as ever, spitting ominous power chords, squealing leads or percussive notes drenched in echo during two reggae-dub excursions.
Longtime admirers may have wished for a more focused performance (many remained, cheering for a second encore that never came), but as a trip down memory lane, the hour-long performance succeeded. A tougher task will be making the Brains' new material as good as its "Bad" old days.