Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Don't Miss the Dempseys, Jack!

Our first night in Memphis, we feasted on Tennessee-style BBQ ribs at the Blues City Cafe on Beale Street and afterwards, asked our waiter which music venues we should check out. He pointed to the adjoining bar and insisted that we see that night's act before going anywhere else. Our reward for taking the advice was The Dempseys, a fabulous frenetic free-for-all of a rockability band that blew my little mind.

I can't think of when I last saw a gig as tight and exciting as these guys. They were hilarious, dexterous, and inexaustible, and a little nuts. To call them 'Rockabilly' is really an underestimate of their range; they had a full grip on every genre surrounding rock and country, including jump blues, Western Swing, surf rock, and even a soupcon of the Sex Pistols. But this was only the songs themselves. As if to prove the absolute extent of both their mastery of all things showman, each of the trio took a turn at the drums, stand-up bass, and Fender Telecaster with near-equal prowess.
There were moments a-plenty when I thought they'd topped everything they'd done already. The medley of artists that ranged from Roy Orbisson to Johnny Rotten was a blowout, but so were the acrobatics---in one of the finest moves, spazz-tacular bassist Joe "Slick" Fick stands atop the bass fiddle and plays guitar while guitarist Bradley Dean Burkedahl slaps the bass with one arm under Fick's legs. Drummer Ron Perrone Jr. ended the second set with a drum solo that led him all around the bar, tapping out rhythms on every table top, ashtray, beer bottle and boot sole in the joint.

The Dempseys' site has a lot of info on their accolades and purchasing CDs, but they are a must-see live. Of all the bands playing that night in Memphis, I can't imagine a better one to have caught. Thanks, Blues City Cafe Waiter Guy!


Blogger Water into Wino said...

Not to be a dick, but the guy in the photos is playing a fender telecaster. I only know because it was my first guitar. Luv reading your blogs!

5:21 PM  
Blogger taj said...

Right you are! Hell, I should know, too, but I guess that set of memory cells was long reclaimed for something *far* more the names of all the cast of South Park. I fixed it...thanks for the heads up!

6:00 AM  

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