Saw an elderly Leon Russell last night in Seattle. I have always loved his first album. He came to Seattle barely able to walk to the stage, long grey hair turned bright white, hiding once boyish looks behind dark glasses and a huge beard, and just rocked our socks off starting out of the box with my old favorite, Delta Lady. He played about 20 songs, including several from that first album and a lot of blues classics. I kept thinking of the youtube clip of the young, short haired Leon Russell singing Roll Over Beethoven. Well, that's how he finished. And at the end, his young guitar wizard, Chris Simmons, did a perfect Chuck Berry scoot as he played his red Gibson.
Simmons is pretty incredible and evidently has an album out. On one old blues he turned his guitar into a saxophone, doing perfect sax runs. Then he got a couple of solo songs. He played two Robert Johnson numbers: a nearly note for note, falsetto for falsetto version of Kind Hearted Woman, and a great version of Walkin' Blues. After all that guitar wizardry it made me especially happy to see his finale being a perfect CB scoot.
So, if you get a chance, go. Leon Russell can hardly move, but he can PLAY. And his band is extraordinary.
(Night before, saw Mavis Staples. Just as remarkable. Singing like crazy at seventy-something, and telling the truth, too.)