Last year, we told you about a major league rock ’n’ roll throw-down put together by Tony Diaz, local radio personality and front man of the band Goodwin. The idea of the Fort Worth Rock Assembly was to get together all the greatest bands in Funkytown, assign each a band to cover, and let them do a mini-tribute to classic rock heroes. Last year was a huge success, but Diaz promised this year would be even better. He wasn’t lying.
This year’s show was booked at the newly re-opened J&J Blues Bar in Fort Worth. It’s a three-day event, and I decided to give Sunday a shot. I got there just in time to catch the end of Vatican Press kicking the hell out of a Clash song on the outside stage. The band had been assigned the Clash, and from what I heard, it did a damn fine job of it.
I headed over to the Salsa Limon Taco truck to get half a dozen or so barbacoa tacos, then headed inside. J&J Blues Bar is an old industrial building that has been converted into a club. The walls are steeped in music history, and although women’s undergarments no longer hang from the rafters, the place still has that lived-in blues club feel. More importantly it has an air conditioning system that I suspect could turn the place into a meat locker if needed. The bar was comfortable, the sound was great, and it was a joy to see the place up and running again.
On the inside stage, Frisky Disco was up next, covering CCR. They nailed a cover of Fortunate Son, did a slightly off-key version of Good Golly Miss Molly, then Lodi, I Put a Spell on You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins), Midnight Special, Long as I Can See the Light and the Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup tune My Baby Left Me. Frisky Disco’s front man Hayden Miller has the perfect voice to cover CCR, and it is one of my favorite bands to see perform anything.
Back outside, Kevin Aldridge and the Appraisers were covering the Cars. The band did flawless versions of Good Times Roll, Magic, You Might Think, Drive and Just What I Needed. Kevin is a little to normal to capture the weirdness of Ric Ocasek, but that’s hardly the point of this thing. It was a solid set of songs that I hadn’t heard in years.
Next, on the inside stage, Secret Ghost Champion was doing the best set of Beatles covers I think I have ever heard. Strawberry Fields, She Said She Said, I’m So Tired, Hey Bulldog, Happiness Is a Warm Gun, Dear Prudence and Baby, You’re a Rich Man. The crowd was really starting to gather by now, and it was feeling it.
Panic Volcanic took the inside stage and, on a night of amazing performances, this one was a world beater. The tribute was to Deep Purple, and the band kicked it off with Highway Star, followed by a mind-blowingly good version of Space Truckin’, and then just to be a rebel, the band did Jimi Hendrix’s Fire. Panic Volcanic has no guitar player (the bass player does the leads) and it has a female lead singer with a voice the size of Texas. There was so much energy and talent that everyone in the place was crammed up against the stage.
To close out the show, psychedelic rockers the Hanna Barbarians did an over-the-top tribute to Rod Stewart and the Faces. The band members decked themselves out in period spandex and lead singer Blake Parish had wig with that Rod Stewart-dead Lhasa Apso look to it. They had the look down, they had the sound down, and they did Hot Legs and Maggie May, with a little help from Big Mike Richardson on keyboard and mandolin. They were still belting out Rod Stewart as I left. The Barbies, as always, put on a hell of a show.
Diaz really couldn’t have picked a better venue this year. There was plenty of space inside and out, there was a nice green-room tent out back for the bands with their own A/C and coolers full of drinks. Ben Napier ran sound (always a good sign), and the bar staff was efficient and friendly. I can’t wait to see what Diaz does to top this next year.