There is a show business adage that the successful act always leaves an audience wanting more. It's why Al Green was the perfect choice to close out this year's Westobou Festival. Not only did he leave the stage with the audience wanting more from the soul legend, but from the festival as well.
Green, who hit the stage a little late but enormously enthusiastically, was greeted by a cross-section audience clearly in love with the good reverend's famous way with a love song. Over the course of his nearly 90-minute set, Green proved time and time again that those signature high notes and famously engaging performances are still very much a part of his regular repertoire.
Whether an extended stroll through his hit Let's Get Married , a nod to his gospel roots with a soulful reading of Amazing Grace or a spirited run through the '70s superhit Let's Stay Together , Green read and responded to his audience like only a seasoned professional can.
He understood that being a singer, even a singularly gifted singer, is not enough. He understood that his job is to sing and conduct, to engage and enrapture. He needs to be a ringmaster, captivating his audience with an uncanny grasp of musical dynamics and honest emotionalism that never seems staged.
Whether singing complicated counterpoint with his back-up combo (who are also his daughters) or handing out a seemingly endless supply of roses to ladies in the house, Green captured and kept his audience.
Not an easy thing to do.
There's little to fault in Green's performance and in the Westobou Festival's decision to have him close out the event. He's an artist whose reputation has been built on consistent excellence and innovation.
A little like Westobou.
A BREAKUP BY ANY OTHER NAME ... It seems there may still be a little charge left in 48Volt.
Last week I reported that the Augusta-based alt-country act had channeled Waylon and Willie for the last time. It appears reports of the Volt's demise might have been premature. Although the three sources I talked to, two of whom were members of the band, indicated that 48Volt was no more, I received word from lead singer Brian Panowich that he and guitarist Chris Livingston will soldier on under the 48Volt banner, albeit with a new rhythm section.
It brings up an interesting question. What exactly constitutes a breakup? Take 48Volt. Current defections included, the band has lost 60 percent of its members. That sounds like a lot. But there is a precedence.
Chrissy Hynde kept the Pretenders brand, and band, moving along even during periods when she was the only original member. The Who still pack arenas, despite losing its drum-and-bass foundation. On the other hand, the Clash never rebounded after the loss of guitarist Mick Jones, and Led Zeppelin never even tried when drummer John Bonham died in 1980.
Still, I can't blame 48Volt for wanting to continue on. Not only does the band have the high profile 12 Bands of Christmas gig coming up, but there's real equity in that name and in those songs. It will be interesting to see how well they do moving forward.