Cursive news, Live Review: Satchel Grande, Column 119 — better, simpler times; McCarthy-Drootin-Hoover tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 1:38 pm March 22, 2007

Before we get onto what happened last night and this week’s column a bit of news (perhaps old news, but news to me, anyway): I got an e-mail from a reader named Adrian who asked about Clint Schnase’s status with Cursive. “I saw them on Saturday at their SXSW showcase and they were playing with a different drummer,” she wrote, “and today I look on Wikipedia and apparently he’s a former member now.” Wikipedia, as we all know, is notoriously inaccurate when it comes to things like this, just ask Sinbad. I checked and, of course, Both listed Clint as being in the band. Still, I went ahead and asked Saddle Creek Records executive Jason Kulbel. His response: “No, he has definitely left the band,” he wrote, adding that there was no drama, that Clint merely decided that touring wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be. “The band has had a few different drummers for the shows in the past few months. No permanent replacement yet, if ever.” Schnase is probably the most under-rated and under-appreciated musicians in the Omaha music scene. His drumming is at the core of Cursive’s explosively rhythmic music, the bedrock along with Matt Maginn’s bass on which all of Cursive’s bombastic sonic freak-outs are built. He won’t be easily replaced, and those of you who never had a chance to see and feel his white-knuckled stickwork live on stage are the lesser for it.

Sadly, moving on…

Satchel Grande is nine white guys in Blue Blockers, short-sleeved office shirts and ties who have an uncanny jonze for impassioned, Caucasian funk. Think of them as Omaha’s modern-day version of KC and the Sunshine band but without the spangles and most of the brass. Last night they turned The Saddle Creek Bar into a ’70s dance palace (sans dancers) cranking out one infectious party jam after another in all their wood-paneled glory. The nine pieces include of two keyboards, two guitars, bass, trumpets, sax, drums, bongos (front and center) and a bucket of hand-held percussion equipment. It’s the keyboards that drive their sound, providing just the right syncopated rhythms that you remember from every ’70s-era cop show, while the nasty guitars play that scratch wah-wah that proceeded every porn movie money shot. Everyone in the rather dead full-house crowd was feeling it, though only a few showed it last night, and I wasn’t feeling it either when they started their set with four covers, including FM cuts by Boz Scaggs, Greg Kihn and Joe Jackson that simply didn’t belong. There’s nothing funky about ’80s radio fodder like Kihn’s “Jeopardy” and Jackson’s “Stepping Out.” The band should, instead, just play their originals — a collection of white-boy funk bordering on disco capped off with plenty of group singing. The perfect house band? Someone should snag them.

Finally, this week’s column is a sentimental look at the music of 1957

Column 119: The Hits of 1957
Simpler times, better times.
When it comes to pop music, it was all about love in 1957. There was no “why me?” mourning and personal despair, no self-reflective self-important aggrandizements. No gnashing of teeth and clenched fists held to the sky. Certainly no calling out of personal demons — yours or theirs. No dopey political tripe or nuanced hidden (or obvious) messages that reflected sad and/or bitter images of Our Broken World.

And certainly no irony.

The music of 1957 was laser-targeted (before there were lasers) directly and solely at one subject and one subject alone, with utmost sincerity and without hang-ups and hard-ons (in fact, fully clothed, with both feet on the floor at all times, please. Thank you.).

A couple weeks ago I submerged myself in the music of 1957 in an effort to capture the mood of the era. The reason: My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and the party held to celebrate their unbelievable achievement. The fact that my mother put up with my father for that many years is an unmatched testament to the potential of human tolerance as well as her lack of common sense (You know I’m just kidding, folks. Really.).

Because I write about music and because I know how to use iTunes, I was placed in charge of gathering the appropriate collection of songs for the soirée. The goal was to create as much of a mood as one could within the fluorescent-lit linoleum-tiled confines of the St. John the Baptist reception hall in Ft. Calhoun.

Google was my first move. Picking up the phone and calling my parents was the second. I ran down the list of hit-makers of ’57 to see who they liked, didn’t like or simply recognized.

Quickly cast aside was The Bobbettes (Huh?), Pat Boone (Uh, no) and Elvis. Back then you were either an Elvis person or you weren’t, and my parents didn’t seem like Elvis people to me. I don’t remember hearing many Elvis records growing up; instead, there was lots of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass.

Other casualties of memory loss were Jill Corey (“Love Me to Pieces”), The Dell-Vikings (“Come Go With Me”), The Hilltoppers (“Marianne”), Danny and the Juniors (“At the Hop”) and on and on. Reading off those names was met by silence on the other end of the line.

How about Perry Como? Oh yes, they liked him, and Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Sinatra and Johnny Mathis. By the end of our conversation, a solid list of artists revealed itself, along with a new and different image of my parents and the simple, innocent, and fun world that they grew up in. The play list looked like this:

Perry Como, “Just Born (To Be Your Baby)”
The Ames Bros., “Melodie D’Amour (Melody of Love)”
Perry Como, “Round and Round”
Nat King Cole, “Send for Me”
Johnny Mathis, “It’s Not for Me to Say”
Andy Williams, “I Like Your Kind of Love”
Sonny James, “Young Love”
The Rays, “Silhouettes”
Andy Williams, “Butterfly”
Johnny Mathis, “Chances Are”
Sam Cooke, “You Send Me”
The Crickets, “That’ll Be the Day”
Patti Page, “Old Cape Cod”
Billy Williams, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Right Myself a Letter”
Jimmie Rodgers, “Sweeter Than Wine”
Harry Belafonte, “Jamaica Farewell”
The Everly Brothers, “Bye Bye Love”
Louie Armstrong, “A Fine Romance”
Frank Sinatra, “All the Way”

The music generally fell into two categories: hip finger-snappers like Williams, Como, Rodgers and The Everly Brothers that you could imagine playing in the background as my dad waved my mom to jump on into the convertible we’re headed to Tiner’s for a shake; and the sweet, romantic, head-on-your-shoulder slow-dancers like Patti Page, The Rays, Sam Cooke, Sinatra and of course Johnny Mathis. Little did they know that the silly grin that Mathis was wearing was meant for a guy, not a gal, but then again, gay people didn’t exist in 1957. At least not in popular culture.

The one thing every song had in common was its dedication to true love, pure and simple, for each other, completely selfless. It was a time before the Beatles and the Stones, when rock ‘n’ roll was just emerging from the underground, its R&B roots firmly planted decades earlier in a hidden black world.

Imagine what kids 50 years from now will choose to represent the current era of popular music: The Fray, Arcade Fire, Fall Out Boy, Justin Timberlake, Notorious B.I.G., Gwen Stefani. Big, boasting, over-sexed, self-important blow-hards who wouldn’t know love if it kneed them in the bling-bling. It’s enough to make you scratch your head and wish for a second coming of Como.

Well, the 1957 CD did its job, providing the necessary background music while relatives and friends ate wedding cake and talked about the old days. The better days? Maybe, though there are still plenty of good days ahead for my folks, for my family, for all of us.

Happy anniversary, mom and dad.

Tonight at The Waiting Room, Team Love Recording artist McCarthy Trenching takes the stage along with Steph Drootin and Omaha legend Bill Hoover, all for a mere $7, 9 p.m.

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