|Booker T. Jones mixed rock and soul in his show Tuesday at the Regattabar. He played tunes from his new album, ''Potato Hole,'' and some classic songs as well. (Gary Copeland)|
Booker T. still chugging along
As understated and gracious as he is legendary, Booker T. Jones took the stage at the Regattabar Tuesday night with his customary chapeau in place, sat down at his Hammond B3, and informed the crowd that he had a new record out named "Potato Hole" and would be playing some of its songs.
He periodically offered brief commentaries on the inspiration behind the new songs ("Reunion Time": memories of Jones family reunions; "Warped Sister": a young girl wailing the same riff over and over on her new guitar), and he even sang "Born Under a Bad Sign," the tune he gave to Albert King (and revealed himself to be a more than capable vocalist in doing so). But for the most part, he let the music do the talking.
Jones isn't out with "Potato Hole" collaborators the Drive-By Truckers for this tour, but his backing bandmates, including local ax-meister Troy Gonyea and Marc Ford (best known for his guitar work with the Black Crowes), proved to be ferocious accompanists.
Early on Jones remarked that with "Potato Hole" he had finally gotten a chance to rock out, and he and his cohorts put that into practice with muscular, smoking versions of "Warped Sister" and the title track, which featured some scintillating trade-offs between Gonyea's slide and Ford's heavy-funk picking. "Native New Yorker" boiled down to a fantastic tug of war between Booker T.'s B3 driving the song in a sweet soul direction and Gonyea's screaming guitar bringing the rock.
Fans jonesing for the classic Booker T. & the MG's Stax sound got their fill, too, with "She Breaks" and Booker's remarkable take on OutKast's "Hey Ya," as well as a dip into the MG's catalog for "Green Onions" ("one from 1962," Jones said) and an extended, slow-building "Time Is Tight."
It's almost 50 years on from what that "one from 1962" started, and Booker T. is still showing himself to be a master at making the music sing.