Sunday, October 11, 2009

Henderson's Got Talent!

What a whirlwind weekend it's been for me. No, it wasn't quite up to the level of drunken tomfoolery when the September Madness buffoons were in town a couple of weeks ago, but I still had a great Vegas-style couple of days, and relaxing all day on Sunday was just what I needed. I'll tell more of my adventures in another post, but right now, I'm here to sing the praises of a new act I caught this weekend.

First of all, I hadn't seen my gal Linda Lou in a couple of weeks--we had lots of catching up to do. She finally got her book back from the printer, and not only is she proud of her effort, but I'm very happy for her--it's been a five-year labor of love and she's finally seen it to fruition. Anyhow, our plan was to meet up for drinks on Friday night, and she suggested the Ovation Lounge at Green Valley Ranch.

I was all over that, and at six o'clock, we were sitting in the bar tipping back a couple of beers. She presented me with my very own personalized copy of her book, and we settled in to share our latest adventures with one another. Our plan was to hang out for a bit, and then go inside the lounge (on the other side of the bar) and check out the live band at seven.

I guess I wasn't expecting much, but damn, what a band it was. We walked in and grabbed a cocktail table just as they were getting underway, and I was immediately hooked. The stage was crowded; there were the usual suspects in attendance--lead singer, guitarist, bass, drummer, keyboards--but then there was a horn section, an organist, a percussionist, and a couple of back-up singers. There were so many people up there that it kinda looked like a Parliament concert, minus the dreadlocks and the dude wearing a diaper.

The name of the group was The Michael Grimm Band, and the music they put out was nothing short of incredible. Absolutely fantastic. I seriously don't have enough superlatives to relate how good it was. They played a great combination of blues, soul, rock, and funk, and everybody in the room was down on the dance floor letting their freak flag fly after about the first minute or two. You couldn't help but get up and dance. Off the top of my head, I heard some Skynyrd, Al Green, Delbert McClinton, Blues Brothers, and the list goes on and on. And once they wore everybody out with the high energy stuff, they slowed it down and played a soul-rendering cover of Marc Cohn's Walking in Memphis.

The band leader, and main singer, Michael Grimm, has an amazing voice. At first I thought it sounded like a cross between Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Cougar Mellencamp, but the more we listened, we narrowed it down to 'Joe Cocker back when he spoke English'. Simply an incredible musician. There was also a singer who did a few turns out front and center who went by the name 'B Soul', and I guess he was a contestant who went fairly deep on American Idol, but I don't watch the show, so I wasn't familiar with his work--and he was also a great singer. But they weren't the only ones who knew their craft. You could tell that everyone up on that stage was just oozing in talent--it flowed out of their pores, puddled up at their feet, and ran out on to the dance floor. The synergy of having so many great musicians in one place was nothing short of being total ear candy. They were a 'tight' band, and I could've listened to them all night long.

We stayed for both sets, and danced ourselves into a decent-yet-civilized sweat. And we had a few rounds, too. Linda stayed with the Marsden beer, and once I spied a bottle of Montecristo rum on the bar, I did my best to empty it--one lime wedge and glass of Coke at a time. We also talked with the trumpet player from the horn section, an amazing talent in his own right, Michael Ray Taylor. He's got his own project going on, and was an interesting person to talk to. And yeah, I'm buying every CD they're selling at the next show.

They only played for about three hours, and it went by way too fast for me. They could've played all night and I would've stayed and listened. But we paid our tab, promised to do it again soon, and then said our goodbyes.

As I was heading out to fetch my truck from the valet, my phone was blowing up from one of my other gals, who wanted me to come meet her over at Club M to see one of her favorite dance bands, 'Envy', who were taking the stage a half-hour later. So I broke a few speed laws, eluded the ever-diligent Henderson cops, and got to the venue just under the wire.

Oh my god, what a difference. And not in a good way, either. That Envy band has got to be about the worst group I'd ever sat through. How they ever conned their way into a paying gig I'll never know. It was a six piece band--a bass player, a drummer, and a keyboardist--the rest of the music coming from sequencers. The other three people--the 'main' group on their posters, were just singers, and only one of them was any good. There was modernized Eddie Haskell (he actually had some talent), a blond-from-the-bottle bimbette with fake boobs and too much makeup, who's only contribution was to be eye candy, as far as I could tell, and then another dude who did their 'rap' stuff, but seemed like a huge Myspace d-bag come to life. Together, they were awful. But the gals in the crowd seemed to love 'em for some unexplained reason, and the waters were deep for trolling--I swear there were about ten chicks on hand for every guy in attendance. Even so, the music was awful. And they only did about a minute and a half of each song, running about five or six of them together at a time. Coming from seeing a professional, polished act, to seeing those lip-syncing poseurs was a monumental letdown. The best part of that show was that beers were only four bucks at the bar.

I could only take about an hour of it, so I made my apologies and excused myself before my head exploded. I was home by midnight, having to work early on Saturday morning.

So while I'm sure I'll never sit through another set with Envy, no matter what the venue, I can't wait to get back over to GVR and hang out at the Ovation. Besides Michael Grimm, they've got some other great free acts on constant rotation--Yellow Brick Road and The Lon Bronson All-Star band, too. It appears that I've found a new place to hang out when I tire of the poker rooms around town.


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