'Guitar heroes' on Long Island
I'm at the start of another American road trip, this time with Alan Lloyd, John Howard and Jonathan Batten. Our starting point is Long Island, where we are planning to go to the LAR Doowop weekend which starts today. First though, after a drive around in the pouring rain, we took a chance on catching a couple of rock guitarists at the Art Deco Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. First up was G E Smith, formerly the guitarist with Hall and Oates and the Saturday Night Live TV show, who was surprisingly good. A superb guitarist, he was excellent vocally as well on a couple of Love numbers, My Little Red Book and 7 Plus 7 Is, and Arrowhead, a song written by Richard Shindell to which he's added an extra verse. His bass player made a fair stab at Psychotic Reaction, but the highlight was an extended version of Bo Diddley's Mona, which featured. G E showing off his guitar prowess including hints of Duane Eddy and the Stones, among others. He finished with a strong version of Thousand Dollar Car, a song recorded by the Bottle Rockets.
The star of the show was Rick Derringer, one time front man of the McCoys and long associated with Johnny and Edgar Winter. What a disappointment he turned out to be. A heavy rock self proclaimed 'guitar hero', he's also a Christian Trump supporter who recently bragged about how he regularly took a loaded gun on flights. His first number, Turn My Life Round, was dull Christian rock and the best part of his act was his 1965 'Ohio state rock anthem' Hang On Sloopy, recorded when he was just 17, which included the second verse edited out of the McCoys hit version. He followed up with Free Ride, a song he recorded with Johnny Winter, and then requested that the audience stand up for a distorted instrumental version of Star Spangled Banner. Amazingly, to us English anyway, 90 per cent of them did just that. I found it gut wrenchingly embarrassing, but things got worse as he moved on to Real American, a song dedicated to brave Americans defending their country and 'everyone under God'. He was urged on both by the audience and his band, comprising long time bass player Charlie Torres and drummer Ken Montinot. He continued with the Edgar Winter instrumental Frankenstein, the Johnny Winter song Rock And Roll Hoochie Coo, which gave Rick his only solo hit, and, finally, and thankfully, after these heavy rock travesties, I Play Guitar. Rick was clearly playing to an appreciative audience, but I found it pretty tedious and slightly sick making. Never mind, it's off to the Doowop show today.