By way of a suggestion I stopped at my friend’s restaurant, Nanola, to see Rick Nelson & Friends on my way home from the North Country Thursday, January 28. The key catch was Rick Nelson from the High Peaks Band. I’ve always known him to be a talented, well balanced guitarist, so stopping on my way home seemed like a less than daunting task.
When I arrived, they were just breaking into their first set with a fan favorite and something I’m never sad to hear, “Up on Cripple Creek,” by The Band. Rick & Friends moved through the first set as though they had been playing for years, although this was only their second show together. The sets were completely comprised of covers, but if you closed your eyes during “The Weight” it didn’t matter who you thought you were listening to, your mind and soul were singing along. The only thing that made my mind jump higher after that was the Ween cover “Roses Are Free.” From there, the first set moved with smooth measure through the Stones’ “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” and finished with a solid and welcome “I Know You Rider.”
Rick, Bob McKeon (Garcia Project), Mike Cassels (Stone Revival Band), and Joe Bodden (Antelope), joined the crowd enjoying a free show put on by Shane Spillenger (Sugar Productions) at Nanola, in Malta, NY, between the sets. They were greeted by a group of people thanking them for such a solid first set. Their overwhelming response: make sure you stick around for the second set. They were not wrong.
They started off with an ever recognizable theme song of the popular show, “Shaft.” From there they grooved into “Shakedown Street,” which caused even the most skeptical of attendees to start shaking their butts. Towards the end of the Dead favorite you could start to hear that resounding chord progression of “2001.” And then it started.
Suddenly my toes were dug back in the sand in Mexico. “2001” led back into the hip-wiggling “Shakedown” before the beach came back into full view with “Shine a Light.” The Friends orchestrated “The Shape I’m In” and “Psycho Killer” before melding “Chalkdust Toruture,” into “Gotta Jibboo,” which led to “Eyes of the World,” and back into “Jibboo.”
These brazen cover artists finished off their sets with a rendition of “Suzy Greenberg,” which almost made people beg for them to not stop. By the end of that song there was a full feeling of satisfaction; a feeling always desired at the end of a show. There is nothing more that can be said other than that the next time these guys play, do not miss them.