“I didn’t want to live in a world without Sally Majestic, so I made the ultimate sacrifice.” — Ben Napier, Sally’s new guitar player
Back in May, legendary Funkytown rock act Sally Majestic decided to call it quits. Guitarist John Stevens left the band, it lost its rehearsal studio, and drummer Tim Cowdin decided to take a walk as well. That left core members P.J. Fry (bass, vocals) and Scott Vernon (guitar, vocals), and they weren’t keen to perform as a duo under the name Sally Majestic. The news of the breakup was met with weeping and gnashing of teeth — and not just from me. Sally Majestic has a dedicated following all over the Metroplex.
Sally had just finished recording at Ben Napier’s studio, so he was already on intimate terms with the band’s sonic offerings. Somehow the pieces eventually fell together, leading to Sally Majestic rising from the dead like a big ol’ butt-kicking rock ’n’ roll zombie with Napier as the new second guitar player. The re-formed band was set to hit the stage Sunday at the new Shipping & Receiving club on Calhoun Street, and come hell or high water I was going to be there to see it happen.
Ben Napier is no John Stevens, and he wasn’t trying to be. Napier is a force to be reckoned with all on his own, and I was overjoyed to see him up on that stage. Sally Majestic has been doing its thing since 2001, and has gone through a multitude of membership changes over the span of more than a decade.
A membership change like this may alter the overall sound a touch, but the sonic DNA of this band remains intact. Even some of the newer stuff — which is a departure from the happy reggae-ish sound the band has been known for — was still unmistakably Sally. The guitar work (from both Vernon and Napier) was excellent, the bass animated and driving, and the drums offered the kind of precision that we expect of Cowdin. So glad he came back.
Speaking of rising from the dead, Shipping & Receiving, which celebrated its grand opening last weekend, is located at the back of an old sporting goods warehouse. I love seeing these historic buildings brought back to life and repurposed. To get to the bar proper, you go straight to the back, up onto the loading dock and into what used to be the shipping and receiving department.
The band performed on a stage in front of the dock, and though I didn’t have much of a chance to explore, the interior was a comfortable lounge area in an old high-ceilinged, exposed-brick kind of ambiance. I hope the place has live music on the inside in the future as well; looks like a nice place for it.
We got to hear some new stuff and a cover or two, including what has now become a Sally Majestic standard: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips. But it was the old Sally Majestic originals that I came to hear and sing along to. The group did not disappoint.
We were nearing the end of the show when lightning flashed in the sky and rain started to fall. Vernon announced that the guys were going to do one more song and the sound man announced that they were, in fact, not. They were shutting it down and saving the gear from the downpour that happened before I could get to my car around the corner. No matter — all is well in Funkytown. Sally Majestic walks the earth yet again.