Archive for the ‘NRBQ’ Category

RIP Steve Ferguson

October 21, 2009

The Street Parade was very sad to learn of the passing of guitar great, and NRBQ co-founder, Steve Ferguson who died at age 60 due to cancer on Oct. 7. Steve Ferguson formed NRBQ  in 1967 with  keyboardist Terry Adams, , singer Frank Gadler, drummer Tom Staley, and bassist Joey Spampinato. It’s true that Ferguson only played with the band for a few years, but his influence on the band’s direction as a whole and particularly on his successor Big Al Anderson were vast. When they hired Anderson, the primary qualification was for the new guitar player to be able to even come close to playing Steve’s intro to “Flat Foot Flewzy.” Ferguson said he had the right hand of a country player and the left hand of a blues player. Throw in a touch of Sun Ra to the mix and you’ve got the heart of one of the best live bands ever. Ferguson and Anderson played together on the 1972 album “Scraps”–one of the all-time greats. The original album and the collaboration with Carl Perkins are also amazing. Finally, as listening tribute, I’m going to suggest his recent reunion with Terry Adams, “Louisville Sluggers.” Good fun and goofy R&B to the core.

steve ferguson

On another related note, any NRBQ fan will also be saddened by the loss of “Captain Lou” Albano on Oct. 14. Yea, yea, yea, forget the Cyndi Lauper connection, it’s all about the Q. As Lou screams at the end of “Captain Lou”:

They’re talking about me!
Captain Lou Albano!
Maker of champions, baby!
Twelve tag-team champions!
I take them, I mold them,
I think it’s charisma, it’s pandemonium!
It’s psychedelic pandemonium!
Ah ha ha ha ha ha! I, am “the Guiding Light,” ha ha!

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Happy Birthday Terry and Joey!

August 16, 2008

Well, the Street Parade has been missing in action for awhile–got quite busy here in mid-summer and blogging took a bit of a backseat.  During the unwitting hiatus, we’ve missed quite a few birthdays to celebrate.  I’ll let most of them slide, but I can’t ignore Terry Adams’ birthday on Aug. 14, especially since it coincides so nicely with Joey Spampinato’s birthday today.  Yes, that madman keyboard player and the rock-steady bassist of NRBQ have just turned 58.

NRBQ, one of the longest-running bands around, took a pinch of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and that Sun records sound, mixed it with some Thelonius Monk, Sun Ra, Chuck Berry, and a little bit of Beatles and cooked it up into their own strange, fun blend that’s been making folks dance for over 40 years.  The band has changed personnel a bit over the years, and shifted early on from the New Rhythm & Blues Quintet to the New Rhythm & Blues Quartet, but Adams and Spampinato (there’s a song on “Message for the Mess Age” in which Terry Adams drills it into our heads how to spell it) along with drummer Tom Ardolino have always been at the heart of it.  They made sure to keep humor in rock & roll.  I mean these are the guys that hired wrestler Captain Lou Albano as their manager and made a song in his honor (and with his crazy rantings in the mix).  They even have an album for the collaboration, Lou and the Q.  These are the guys who for many, many years had the “song hat” at shows in which people could suggest any tune they wanted and they would pick random suggestions from the hat and come up with a version of it.  One reviewer refers to them as “Moe Howard meets Marcel Duchamp” and, yes, if you go see them, be prepared to answer “What are you grinning about” for quite some time.

Oh, but what to suggest for a listening tribute?  It’s a tough call.  There’s so much damn good music to get to for a 40 year career.  Tap Dancing Bats?  Live at Yankee Stadium?  Grooves in Orbit?  Boppin the Blues, that classic session with Carl Perkins sitting in?  Of course the Peek-A-Boo collection is always a good option.  It’s all great stuff and you can’t go wrong, but for my listening suggestion for the day, I’m going with the “Scraps Companion” album, recorded with a small invited audience in the studio in conjunction with the release of Scraps. It’s classic stuff:

It’s got the early version of the band with a bit of the Whole Wheat Horns on it.  Besides, you also get the groovy picture of Joey on the cover looking quite mafioso.  So, as usual, turn it up really loud and make your neighbors dance.

And just in case you don’t have any Q (what’s your problem, anyway?), here’s a little snippet: