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Music Saturday: Fry Me Up Some Glass Onions, Baby!

June 23, 2013

If I didn’t really feel like I was back home in Memphis before last night, ohhh, baby, I do now!  Why am I just now finding out about Fried Glass Onions, Eddie Dattel’s Inside Sounds project that combines the Beatles’ Mersey Beat with the Memphis Sound? If that oddly familiar older lady weren’t still staring at me in the mirror today, I’d swear I had died and gone to heaven.

60's dancers

As I’ve gestured at  before, there is nothing in my life so throbbingly  heartfelt – and memory-drenched – as the music of the 1960’s. Whether it was filtered through a squawky transistor radio set to WMPS, WHBQ or  WLOK; spun from a 33 1/3  album from a friend’s hi fi; or heard live and raucous at the Peabody at a high school Panhellenic formal;  the soundtrack of my youth made my heart thump to a backbeat. From the Beach Boys to Otis Redding, the British Invasion to Motown’s wall of sound, Eddie Harrison’s Short Kuts to Sam and Dave, Memphians in my generational cohort feasted on bodacious music.

[email followers click here for Eddie Harrison and the Short Kuts video]

I loved it all.  But most of all I loved the freshly expressed, unbridled joy of the early Beatles; and the funky, transcendent, horns-saturated sounds of Stax and Hi Records.  I never considered those two distinct sounds melding, so when I saw the notice about a “Memphis Meets the Beatles” concert earlier this week, I was at once curious and committed to going.

Last night’s Fried Glass Onions concert made me a believer. Many of you, I trust (because Back in River City followers are timelessly hip and ever au courant) are well aware of  Fried Glass Onions, who have produced four Memphis Meets the Beatles CD’s since 2005 and eight or so  grooving live concerts. Last night’s small but ardent audience at St. Mary’s Buckman Performing Arts Center were taken on a musical journey  by a 14-member company of distinguished musicians and vocalists who played Beatles favorites the way they must have been intended in the first place, but  Lennon-McCartney were too white to bring off. (Bless their hearts. Hard to have soul when your tea is hot and “South” means London.)

FriedGlass2

Who knew that “From Me to You” was a torch song?  (It is when Redd Velvet sings it, believe me!) And that soulful Memphis paul mccartneyhorns, funk, and bluesy soloists could take great British pop into a whole new timeless dimension?  Adding to the fun, for slightly timeworn Beatles loyalists in the audience like me, was bass player and band leader Dave Smith’s channeling of Paul McCartney. His emotive mugging made the women reminiscent; his longish locks made the men envious. (Mark my words, in 15 years, Friday nights at the nursing home are going to be a whole new thang. This  crowd will give  new meaning to the term “rocking chair.”)

So, here on a lazy Memphis Saturday, way too hot to do outdoors, I’m listening to all four Fried Glass Onion CD’s and revelling in my newfound music pleasure.  The next time Fried Glass Onions performs live or on a new CD, treat yourself to this unique musical cocktail. I’ll give you a heads up.

Thanks to Eddie Dattell for bringing the Memphis meets the Beatles concept to life; to the extraordinary Memphis musical talents who delivered on every note and beat last night; and to my  dear husband Eddie, who indulged my passion for live music with a bemused smile and his cochlear implant turned to “off.”

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