Exile on Main Street: A Tribute to the Rolling Stones
February 18, 2011
Better than: the Stones could have imagined pulling off themselves. (As Bill Sundahl read at the beginning of the show, Mick Jagger said only about four of the songs could be played live.)
During that insistent horn, guitar and everybody-sing-one-word refrain that carries it home, "Happy" felt like the theme song to the evening -- not for its mean-spirited lyric, but for that sparkling refrain. The sold-out Crosstown Station was packed with happy people (happy just to get in, and happier yet as the show built and built to a series of unforgettable climaxes). The giddy crew of more than two dozen pulling off the seemingly impossible -- performing Exile on Main Street live -- reflected the feeling in the crowd. No one embodied that baseline emotion, and the layers of colors added to the mix more clearly than guitarist and vocalist David Regnier, playing with smoldering intensity (and, when the time was right, bouncing around the stage like a kid).
In an evening filled with local stars (which led guitarist Chris Meck to repeatedly marvel, "These folks play in your town every night"), a few somehow stood out against the backdrop firmly anchored by Mark Lowrey's piano work, a horn section including Bobby Du Soul, Rich Wheeler, Jeremiah Kidwell, and Sam Hughes, Mike Stover on bass and Matt Richie and Paul Andrews on drums and percussion. Every male vocalist -- from Exile core band members (Cody Wyoming, Chris Meck and David Regnier) to Mitch Rich (of the Rich Boys), John Cutler (Parlay), Danny Fischer (The Afterparty), Dutch Humphrey (Atlantic Fadeout), Troy Geoghegan (Bleach Bloodz), Nathan Granner (American Tenors) and Mark Smeltzer (Rural Grit All-Stars) -- brought fresh flavors to the mix. (Smeltzer gets special kudos for his gut-bucket stylings and instruments that resembled strung frying pans.) Of the Exile boys, Jeremiah Kidwell stood out with his kinetic and charismatic performances of "Rip This Joint" and "All Down the Line" (the latter featuring one of several blazing harmonica solos by Matt Rapport).
Eric Voeks did a fine job opening the show, telling a story about buying Some Girls at 14 and discovering, among other things, "Before They Make Me Run." Voeks (along with Wyoming) turned in a beautiful "Ruby Tuesday" and brought a spare intensity to "Mother's Little Helper" before ending his set with all of the sadness inherent in the beautiful "Out of Time."
That set was followed by Tony Ladesich playing alongside Kasey Rausch. Ladesich showed just what a strong vocalist and eloquent guitar player he is on songs like "No Expectations" and "Dear Doctor"; but more importantly, he generously supported and enhanced the work of Rausch. Rausch's wiry-tough-as-it-is-gentle voice giving a heartbreaking reading of "Wild Horses" was the first indication of the true story of the evening. Somehow, the greatest irony in a tribute to a band as branded by misogyny as the Stones was the fact that this night came to feel like it was about the women.
The moment the chorus of six women backup singers (including Heart of Darkness's Erica Townsend and Rachel Christia as well as actress Katie Gilchrist) hit the stage for "Tumbling Dice," the warmth on the stage transformed the entire house. It didn't hurt that "Dice" is one of the band's finest singles, and John Cutler's vocal interplay with the women vocalists stoked the coals. But then, Lauren Krum joined David Regnier at the mic for a tender version of "Torn and Frayed." Toward the end of the show, a lead guitar-wielding Amy Farrand would command a blues healing out of "Stop Breaking Down." Then, Abigail Henderson would summon a golden glow of hope from the darkness on "Shine a Light."
From the Ladesich-Rausch rollicking tribute to working people, "Salt of the Earth" (which first expanded the show to band format with Bill Sundahl on bass and Matt Richie on drums) to the show's final non-Exile closer, "Let It Bleed," the Crosstown Rolling Stones tribute was a celebration of community. It was there in the vibe in the room from the start, and it was there in the way frontman organizer Wyoming assisted Voeks' performance at the beginning and then gave up the mic to a new performer whenever he found the perfect person for the job. It was there in the way the women made the men look good while occasionally making it clear they had the power to turn this potential boys' club on its head. On stage and off, that community argued loudly and raucously above everything else. If you allow yourself someone to lean on, you may just get what you want and way more than what you need.
Overheard in the Crowd: Musician and that day's birthday boy Dan Mesh: "I had to sell my body to get in here. Sad that it's only worth $15."
Erik Voeks (with Cody Wyoming)
1. "Take It or Leave It"
2. "19th Nervous Breakdown"
3. "Ruby Tuesday"
4. "Before They Make Me Run"
5. "Mother's Little Helper"
6. "Out of Time"
Kasey Rausch and Tony Ladesich
1. "No Expectations"
2. "Dear Doctor"
3. "Wild Horses"
4. "You Gotta Move"
5. "Salt of the Earth"
6. "Dead Flowers"
The Exile Band
1. "Rocks Off"
2. "Rip This Joint"
3. "Shake Your Hips"
4. "Casino Boogie"
5. "Tumbling Dice"
6. "Sweet Virginia"
7. "Torn and Frayed"
8. "Sweet Black Angel"
9. "Loving Cup"
11. "Turd on the Run"
12. "Ventilator Blues"
13. "I Just Want to See His Face"
14. "Let It Loose"
15. "All Down the Line"
16. "Stop Breaking Down"
17. "Shine a Light"
18. "Soul Survivor"
Musicians on each song:
Rock Soft - Mitch Rich
Rip this Joint - Jeremiah Kidwell
Hip Shake - Cody Wyoming
Casino Boogie - Cody Wyoming & David Regnier
Tumblin' Dice - John Cutler
Swee Virginia - Danny Fisher
Torn & Frayed - David Regnier and Lauren Krum
Sweet Black Angel - Cody Wyoming and David Regnier
Lovein' Cup - Cody Wyoming
Happy - Chris Meck
Turd on the Run - Mark Smeltzer & Amy Ferrand
Venelator Blues - Troy Geoghehan
Just Wanna See his Face & Let it Loose - Nathan Granner (he's a classical opera singer!)
All Down the Line - Jeremiah Kidwell
Stop Breakin' Down - Amy Ferrand
Shine a Light - Abigail Henderson
Soul Survivor - Dutch Humphrey
Let it Bleed - Cody Wyoming, David Regnier + Everybody