CD release parties are great for old-time, long-time and new-found friends to get together. Most of the attendees have been friends with each other, and the artist, for years and the chance to get together makes for a great night. It went exactly that way when Mike Morgan and the Crawl held a release party for their new CD - The Lights Went Out In Dallas.
The Main Street Tavern was the perfect venue to hold the event as the intimate nature made the audience one cohesive unit in cheering Mike Morgan, the band and the music. Owner Jerry Harkins works diligently to provide a place that "Keeps the blues alive."
Fresh from touring in Europe, Morgan immediately pumped up the crowd with "Funkification," an instrumental song that got people swaying, shaking and gyrating. Morgan's picking earned a big response as did the haunting intro to the next song, as it changed to an uplifting and hopeful beat with a range of emotions coming through his guitar.
Anson Funderburgh, the Master of the Stratocaster and long-time friend of Morgan, then joined the band and raised the firepower to another level. Playing songs from The Lights Went Out In Dallas, the Backyard Blues "Out In The Jungle" turned into a mini-jam with great tone and solid play from the rhythm section of bassist Drew Allain and drummer Kevin Schermer.
Mike told many stories, especially the genesis of the songs he wrote, and spoke of how he had to explain to the European crowds that "Airight," the next song, is a legitimate Texas pronunciation. He made the fretting look effortless, as did Anson on a beautiful solo. Morgan also used his voice as an instrument as he added a country twang to the bluesy Working For The Man.
Keyboardist Christian Dozzler switched to the chick-magnet accordion and laid down some wailing notes. Morgan brought backup singers Rachel Stacy and Tish Garceau for the title song. With the horn players, that brought the number of artists on the stage to 10 talented musicians that made The Tavern awash with a big-band beat and boogie sound.
The next two songs had a 1940s sad song feel to them. Sad songs can sometimes pull down the buzz, but the musicianship kept everyone just as enthralled as the upbeat numbers. Mike and Anson followed with solid solos and the lilting tune Please Accept My Love turned into a burner that put the appreciative crowd back in a rocking groove.
Morgan explained his love of Westerns and it was evident on Fracas By The Pecos, a spoken-word song that had a love of Marty Robbins all in it, replete with a sterling trumpet to complete the song. Shades of Chuck Berry came out in Ding Dong Daddy, an early rock and blues tune that included horns and swish-bang Mike Morgan and Anson Funderburgh solos. They finished the first set with a raucous rendition of Stagger Lee, including exquisite shredding and ripping riffs by the two friends.
After a quick break, the feel good instrumental Okie Dokey Stomp raised heart rates, aided by Chris, Curtis and Bill on the trumpet, tenor sax and baritone sax. Two T-Bone Walker covers were crowd favorites, as the Mississippi Blues songs featured solos and horns. Some chicken scratch on the fret and some downtrodden blues by Anson made it "so funky you could smell it."
Covering Ike Turner'as Matchbox turned into a feel-good jam as guitars and horns battled for funkiness supremacy. No blues album is complete without a "cheating, lying, murdering your baby" song and Goin Down To Eli's fit the bill. Morgan again showed his skill as his solo was slice-and-dice fast and furious.
In an ironic twist, How Much More Time, a song pontificating the meaning of life turned into a kick ass jam. Anson started and Mike finished an all-band jam that could have gone on all night. The crowd danced where they could and others stayed in their seats and moved and grooved.
The show was over much too early in everyone's opinion, but a 21 song setlist was a good way to spend the night. The Lights Went Out In Dallas is receiving fabulous reviews and is still moving up the Blues charts. Special thanks to Jerry Harkins, Chaveen, Andrea and the staff of The Tavern on Main who made this night a big success for Mike Morgan.