Concert Review: Rock 'n' Roll Social Club, Turnip Stampede, Johnny Rawls

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What Tala Vera lacks in size, it makes up for in vibe. Friday night was my first experience hearing a band on the heavy side at this downtown venue. While the music was perhaps a couple of clicks over too loud, the space still managed to contain the hard rock of both Rock 'n' Roll Social Club (featuring former members of Boneyard) and Minds Open Wide (ex-Kaged, et al).When the band first reformed it stuck with old material, but Social Club has penned a bunch of brilliant tunes that aren't just new, but seem to be heading in a new direction. I like it, I like it, yes I do.

Minds Open Wide plays a rather unnerving angular type of progressive rock -- this ain't background noise for you to get your serve on; it will not be ignored. Rhythmically it's hard to pin down, with its obtuse structures and stop-on-a-dime dynamics. It seems incredibly precise and undoubtedly hard to play. These cats are good, I'm telling you.

Despite the down-home, aw-shucks farm imagery its name conjures, Syracuse's Turnip Stampede adds a little big-city blues to its rural ramble and jam (perhaps we'll call it "jamble"). The band played late Friday night at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. The closest comparison I can make would be Ten Years After. If you haven't seen the footage of the band's closing set at Woodstock, well then, you just have to in 2013. In the meantime check out Turnip Stampede as the band breathes new life into the stock hippie jam by giving it wings and teeth.

As the former bandleader for O.V. Wright and Little Johnny Taylor, Mississippi-born Johnny Rawls is steeped in blues tradition. And that's before you even talk about the man's own contributions to the genre. This is blues that skates on the soul/r&b razor. No matter how lowdown it's rendered, smiles crack, booties shake.

As I've said before, with the blues, I love as it wafts out of a joint like it did at the Dinosaur Saturday night. I hung on to Rawls' rhythm and smooth with the nicotine crowd and dug it until my chattering teeth drowned him out. I'll try this approach again in the spring when it's warmer. Eesh.

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