Ronnie Mack's Barndance 14th anniversary show turns into a lovefest
Crazy Jack's, Burbank, Cal., Jan. 15, 2002
BURBANK, CA - His venues may change from time to time, but Ronnie Mack has steadfastly remained a constant supporter of roots and country music in this town south of Bakersfield, and this 14th anniversary celebration turned into a love fest for the man who has kept the music of some of LA's best kept secrets flowing for all these years.
Many artists on the bill this night were also there for the very first Barndance at the fondly remembered Palomino back in the Eighties, including headliner Rosie Flores. Flores is still an explosive burst of diminutive dynamite in concert and closed out the regular portion of the show (before the all-star hillbilly/rockabilly jam) with a little rockabilly jamming of her own. The highlight came on her cover of Johnny Cash's "Country Boy," where she sparked the tune with her fiery electric guitar fills.
Flores was preceded by a turn from Dave Alvin and Chris Gaffney, in a band that also featured fiddler Brantley Kearns and guitarist Rick Shea. Gaffney shined on his accordion-fueled "Albuquerque," and Alvin supported his blues-influenced roots sounds with some red hot licks of his own before the whole group (along with special guest Big Sandy) concluded their set with an extended version of Webb Pierce's "Honky Tonk Song."
Kearns and Shea also had a little stage time of their own. Kearns was in fine voice for a sweet rendering of "Stars Fell On Alabama," and Shea shone with some fine singing on "Lonesome Cannonball" from his recent "Sawbones" album.
In addition to Flores, now actually a Texan, but just happened to be staying for a month in nearby San Diego, the show also featured the female talents of two other SoCal natives - Patty Booker and Jann Browne.
Browne acted as the calm to Booker's storm on songs like "Cold Here In London," from her new "Missed Me by a Mile" album, and Booker played the tough chick, especially on one song that warned others who might try to pry into her personal life.
William Norman Edwards, who is Pete Anderson's folk-influenced latest discovery, was a little bit too quiet for this rambunctious full house, so his short set of sensitive songs failed to make an immediate impact upon the audience.
Mark Insley had the unenviable task of opening this multi-act show, but his self-written hard-core country songs, such as "Tucson" and "Broken Angel," met the high standards of the many serious music fans and musicians in the house. It also didn't hurt to have Rick Shea's always appropriate guitar work on hand to add musical color to his bitterness-filled songs.
Los Angeles has earned its reputation for being shallow and materialistic, but a night such as this one highlights what is truly worthwhile about this town. Ronnie Mack, the patron saint of Southern California roots music, has kept the good stuff going now for 14 years and (happily) shows no signs of slowing down.