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Chris Isaak’s Live CD Captures Tour Magic

posted by douglas howe

If I told you I watched a concert with a hip guy wearing a sequined covered suit with a band full of old white guys in matching dress–crooning in their version of a rockabilly style–you’d probably think I had bought or rented a DVD. But no, it wasn’t Elvis, or Roy Orbison, or Johnny Cash, or even Harry Connick, Jr.
The other night I found myself inspired by Chris Isaak and his Silvertone band, on tour throughout the country having just released their new “Live at the Fillmore” CD. Their look, style and corniness would really seem like a scene out of “Back to the Future,” except they’ve been plugging away for more than two decades and are still goin’ strong. I guess you could spin it that they’re keeping a wonderful form of music alive or that they’re a couple decades late to the party!
I’ve always been curious about Isaak’s career, mainly because I could never really figure out where he fits into our pop culture. He’s a singer, yes, but he’s not really a rock star. He’s done a ton of songs and 14 albums but aside from “Wicked Game” most of them aren’t too well known. He’s been in some fairly well known films (“That Thing You Do,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Married to the Mob”), he’s had two of his own regular TV shows (one Showtime, the other on Biography) and was featured in HBO’s “From the Earth to the Moon” but he’s not really known as a well-known actor.
“Rockabilly” music has diverse roots and borrows from an eclectic blend of sources (many of which are captured in a current Starbucks CD) and I’m not really sure I totally can describe it, but it sure sounds great coming from a band of guys who love it, are good at it and have been doing it together for a long time. The joy of the Silvertone band was evident and even sad songs sounded fun somehow. Kenney Dale Johnson is the drummer, Roly Salley is an energetic bass guitarist, Hershel Yatovitz the precision lead guitarist and they’re all vocalists as well. You wouldn’t quite compare their harmonies to, say, the Eagles or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, but they’re still outstanding.
When it comes to inspirational music in our pop culture, much of the emphasis and commentary is often is placed on the words. Songs of faith, or of sublime poetry, or of protest and certainly of love and loss usually have strong messages. Last night, though, I found myself inspired by a ton of songs from a kind of music I haven’t listened to much and I loved it. I’m not sure exactly where to go to look for more, but I’ll start with the newly released “Live at the Fillmore” and go from there. Isaak’s show was good clean fun and I look forward to going back.
The guy in front of me caught one of the songs here and someone else caught this one. You can also take a listen to the new CD here.



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