Andre Williams & the Goldstars; May 4, 2012; Off Broadway, St Louis and May 5; Rock Island Brewing Company
I was working merch at the Bloodshot Yard Dog party during SXSW this year when the label manager introduced me to Kenn Goodman, Andre Williams’ manager. What he didn’t mention was that he is also the keyboard player in the Goldstars, Andre’s backing band, and that nobody calls him Kenn. After finding out I lived in Madison, Goodman, who everyone knows as Skipper, asked if I would like to do merch for their show the following Thursday at the High Noon. Since I didn’t have anything going on, and, more importantly, since I love to sell merch, I said sure. There was a good crowd and I sold a lot of stuff. After the show Skipper asked me if I would travel, and would I like to come to all of their upcoming shows.
I couldn’t make the two following nights, though it sounded like the show at the Hideout with Langford the next night would have been one to be at, but I was able to make these two nights just over a month later. I wasn’t lying when I said I would travel, what I didn’t mention was that I hate to drive. I bought a Megabus ticket to Chicago so I could ride with them. What I didn’t count on was that they would take two cars and that I would be riding with Ralph the bass player, Jason the guitar player and Alex the drummer, none of whom I had met before. It was a little weird at first, but they were super awesome guys and it wasn’t long before I got comfortable.
I had reasons other than a love of standing behind a table that motivated me to tag along this weekend. The first was that Ryan Adams is one of the sound guys at Off Broadway in St Louis. Not Ryan Adams the petulant singer-songwriter, but Ryan Adams former tour manager for Ha Ha Tonka. I’d spent a lot of time with Adams on both coasts and I was looking forward to seeing him in his hometown and meeting his girl, his dog and his moped. I stayed at his place that night and got to meet two of the three, plus got a terrific breakfast. The St Louis crowd was a little thin but very enthusiastic, and I think almost everyone there bought something. Williams certainly put on a good show. He sported not one but two dapper suits, changing out of the maroon suit and into a blue one for the encore. The man who co-wrote “Shake a Tailfeather” hasn’t lost much since then despite being in his late seventies.
He is also very entertaining despite the fact that he is a slightly creepy decidedly dirty old man. Songs like “Jailbait” and “Let Me Put It In” that were risqué when he recorded them sound even sleazier now. Somehow the man known as “Mr. Rhythm” and “The Black Godfather” can get away with a song who’s only lyrics are “Pussy stank, and so do marijuana,” the rest of the song is a catchy surf rock jam from his extraordinary backing band the Goldstars. The show was preceded by a showing of the documentary “Agile, Mobile and Hostile: A Year with Andre Williams” which illustrated how low he had gotten and how far he’s come back. Skipper asked after if it made me cry, I replied it might have if I didn’t know everything was OK now.
The show at the Rock Island Brewing Company wasn’t as big a success. I just don’t think the Quad Cities were ready for Andre. The crowd was even thinner and there wasn’t an encore. I still had a great time. I’ve wanted to visit the RIBCo for a long time, though I was slightly confused as to why something named “Brewing Company” didn’t actually brew anything, though the beer selection was stellar. In fact, the only disappointment was that we didn’t see any clowns at out hotel despite the fact that the sign in the lobby welcomed the Midwest Clown Convention.
I’ll definitely go out with Andre and the Goldstars again, maybe one of these days they’ll take me to Europe with them. I hear they are huge there.
Off Broadway, St Louis
Rock Island Brewing Company, Rock Island, IL