What a difference a month makes. The last time I saw George Bedard and the Kingpins it was cool and gray. But this time, it was a beautiful sunny Sunday evening in July at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park Series. The temperature was in the mid-80’s with a slight breeze, and there was only an occasional cloud in the sky. Performing on an elevated stage in front of the Rackham Building – resembling the ending scene from a never released film, “George Bedard and the Kingpins Go to
College,” George was there along as his fellow Kingpins and other invited “All-Stars,”
to help him launch his new CD, “Pickin’ Apart the Past.”
Last time, the band brought their own heat source. This time they brought their own energy source – of the nuclear kind. Using a nuclear reactor as a metaphor for the band – George Bedard, looking college suave in a sports jacket and blue jeans, a sleeveless, suntanned Randy Tessier, and, looking very cool behind his dark aviator glasses (I
think he was using water-cooled fusion as compared to the fission process that the other two were using.), Rich Dishman, were the fuel rods of the reactor.
The energy started immediately as the band came out blazing by opening with one of their own songs, “La Day Oh” from their first CD “Upside.” Sounding like the best Chuck Berry song that you’ve never heard, it happened to be the first song that I ever liked by The Kingpins. The band smoked through an opening 45 minute set emphasizing the best of their catalogue that felt like five minutes.
After a short break, the second set, played as the sun began to set, mostly featured the all-stars on the new CD. These guests included Steve Nardella, Mark O’Boyle, Carl Hildebrandt and Brian Delaney – all artists who played on the new CD. Jim
King, filled in for Al Hill on keyboards. For the next 45 minutes, the all-star band played as much of the CD that they could. The audience response was great as the “street” continued to fill with more and more dancers. Eventually, George disappointedly had to announce that the time was up but he had six more songs that he still wanted to play. Instead, he quickly rallied the group to play a smoldering version of “Okie Dokie Stomp” as well as an ending jam session for “Flip, Flop, and Fly.” As much as I
would have liked to have heard the remaining five songs, it might have been best not to play them. As frenetically as the dancers were dancing and the band was playing, the “reaction core stage” would probably have melted down and broken through the containment vessel. Oh well, there’s always next time. It was a great performance by all involved!
One last thing I’d like to say about the show. George announced that his next album was going to be an all blues one. Great! I love to hear that plans are being made for a new project before the old one has gotten cold! (And if I may make a request, please consider “Long Distance Call”, a song that you have played very infrequently over the years, if the muse moves you.) But George. Enjoy the accolades! Take at least a short victory lap before you jump back in. You’ve earned it!
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW CD!
A follow up to the album cover of “Pickin’ Apart the Past”:
After I posted my last column, Wendy Smith contacted me to let me know that, like anything that is truly great, it usually involves more than one person and is often a team effort. Such is the case of her photo for the album cover that I described. She asked that I mention the GREAT work that Jamie Galimberti did on the graphics and the album cover. He is the one who put the color into George’s guitar in the photo! (It’s alive! Alive!!!!) Hey, everything that I said about that picture goes for you, too, Jamie! It is a remarkable cover and anything that you did to enhance it and make it what it is, is appreciated! So thank you both Wendy and Jamie for one of the best album covers I’ve seen in years. I can’t see how it could have turned out better since I’m still talking about the picture and not the music!
And I’ll even go one further for Jamie. According to George’s facebook, you are responsible for the way the new George Bedard website, www.georgebedard.com looks. Another
superb job! It is cool and classy at the same time! It looks like a vintage guitar, and if it had a smell I’m sure it would smell like a vintage car! And you’re just in the early stages! Excellent job and thank you for a GREAT looking website!
Speaking of new CD’s, according to Dennis Mitchell’s Breakfast With The Beatles, Paul McCartney is going to join a continuous line of musicians recording an album of standards. Normally, in general, I would not find this exciting. But if it’s anything like his cover version of the standard “Summertime” (You know. The one that Janis Joplin recorded with Big Brother & the Holding Company on “Cheap Thrills”) on his “Back in the U.S.S.R.” release that was recorded exclusively for the Soviet Union – otherwise known as “Chuba y PPX”, uh, I mean “Chobby N ZZZM,” (Alright I’ll look
it up. I can never remember the name!), “Choba B CCCP”, sign me up! That was a great slooow blues version of a song that no one remembers him doing!
One more new and upcoming CD that is worth mentioning, is a new Ringo Starr album. Joe Johnson, host of Beatle Brunch, let it be known that Ringo has a new CD ready to go and that it should be released towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
His last two CD’s have been outstanding, capping off a string that he started in 1990 with “Time Takes Time.” With very few exceptions, Ringo continues to improve with age – especially as his music becomes more personal!
Until next time, take care of yourself, and take care of each other!