HOUSTON MUSIC REVIEW: “HE KEEPS GETTING BETTER.”
Chuck Mead and the Grassy Knoll Boys – Discovery Green – Houston, TX
Written by Eddie Ferranti
May 15, 2014 at 07:00 PM
What goes perfectly with a nice outdoor venue, great weather, cold beer and killer good friends? How about Chuck Mead and his Grassy Knoll Boys rockabilly wonderfulness?!
The Kansas native, who has hung his cowboy hat in Nashville for the past twenty years, is riding a nice musical wave right about now. His March release, ‘Free State Serenade’, draws inspirations from his growing up days in his home state and it is a goodie indeed. It is his first album for Plowboy Records, which is a Nashville label founded by former Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, author/professor Don Cusic and Shannon Pollard, the grandson of country music great Eddy Arnold.
Mead also has won rave reviews for being the musical director for the smash Broadway show Million Dollar Quartet, which is currently touring North America. When chatting before the gig with the Chuckster he told me they had scored a residency in Las Vegas, as well.
As far as the live show this was Rose & I’s fifth go ’round and he keeps getting better. His sound is hard to peg, but you can call it country hillbilly blues with a boogie woogie honky tonk rockin’ shake tossed in for good measure. The tight band behind him helps majorly with Martin Lynds on drums and especially Carco Clave on the pedal steel and assorted guitars including mandolin.
Mead dove in heavy on the new one and it played nicely through Discovery Green’s always stellar sound system. “The Devil By Their Side” rocks and the lyrics on “Neosho Valley Sue” about the girl by the Tilt-A-Whirl brought back fond childhood memories. “Girl On The Billboard” displayed how well these guys can shift gears and Mead’s real life tales are heartwarming and funny.
Great crowd sing a long tune, “On A Slow Train Through Arkansas”, got the crowd into it and Mead does not flap jaw too much at all with the tunes flowing one after another. “A Long Saturday Night”, flash back to frontman days of BR5-49 days with “Crazy Arms” (dedicated to the late Ray Price) and a smashing rendition of Johnny Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans” turned the place into a massive easy going picnic party!
“Evil Wind” off the newbie about the crime commited in Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ was unnervingly spirited and by the time he did “Sittin’ On Top of the Bottom” the wave of pure blissful fun was washing over this reviewer.
To say this guy grows on ya is putting it mildly. He’s a smart-aleck ball buster (in a good way!) and his easy going presence when interviewing him is humble and down to earth as you can get. His songs are the type you swear you heard before probably because they are about real life times we’ve all experienced. Try experiencing a show by this fella and I bet you’ll feel the same way…God Bless live music!