Save Cowboy Keith at The 5 Spot 3/29/09



See the slideshows for more photos: part one; part two.

Sunday's Save Cowboy Keith benefit--held in honor of local legend Cowboy Keith Thompson, who sustained serious injuries in a recent scooter accident--turned out to be a mos-of-day and all-night affair that included a scooter rally, BBQ, silent auction and concert at The 5 Spot. We showed up around 2:30 to find that we'd missed the departure of the those participating in the scooter rally. We chowed down on refreshments and awaited their return while braving increasingly oppressive wind conditions that inevitably forced us to go inside the "purple building" to check out the array of books, DVDs, music memorabilia, gift certificates and Rock Band video games being auctioned off for the cause. Upon the triumphant return of the--couple dozen strong--scooter pack we headed home for a little XBox siesta before the concert portion of the days festivities was to begin.

We returned to The 5 Spot at around 6:30, and the club--which took a little getting used to in the light of day--was already swarming with East Nashville bohemian types who were, by and large, sporting either the antiquated look of Opry performers circa 1956 or the antiquated look of West Virginia miners circa 1900. Onstage was David Peterson, who sang and yodeled traditional AM country songs with a voice that sounded like butter would've melted in his mouth, while bearing a striking resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald's killer Jack Ruby. What's not to like about that?

Next up were the self-proclaimed "loud band" of the evening The Clutters. With monster open hi-hit beats and chunky guitars, the old-fangled four-some sounded tough as ever, even while sticking to their poppier material for the majority of the short set-- of which the closing "Surrender" was a particular highlight.

Following The Clutters savage blast of rock 'n' roll came Reeves Gabrels, whose '80s bar-band sound could have been the perfect score for Patrick Swayze's Roadhouse. The majority of the set felt like a cover of Alana Myles' "Black Velvet" was just around the corner. We mean that in the nicest way possible.

After a short break, the guest of honor received a hero's welcome as he was brought onstage to play a short set that proved his temporary wheelchair and ghastly mechanical brace on his right arm are no hinderance to his chops on the six-string. He closed his set with a, mostly instrumental, rendition of Jouney's "Don't Stop Believing," proving once again that you're bound to hear that song at least once a week, no matter where you go or what you do.

For the main event BR549's Chuck Mead led a band--featuring the "Jedi knight of hillbilly music," Chris Scruggs, on lap steel--for a nearly two-hour Last Waltz-like set that featured guest performances by Gail Davies, James Intveld, Garry Bennett, Dave Tanner and more. The band and singers divided their time between tender slow-dance numbers and upbeat ho-downs, with couples in the audience dancing as if they were at a katillion class. Things got exceptionally pulp when the band brought up Los Straightjackets' Eddie Angel to provide the soundtrack to a short routine by local burlesque troupe Panty Raid, briefly turning the benefit into a bitchin' beach party. This was followed up by a most excellent performance of what is perhaps the world's most beautiful song--Santo & Johnny's "Sleep Walk." Given the company we were in, it should almost go without saying that the musicianship all night was, across the board, stellar.

We stuck around for Chris Scruggs' solo set, a mix of pre-1960s classics alongside originals that sound like classics. As always demonstrating his otherworldly pickin' chops and natural charisma as a performer. We made our way out of the club at 11 p.m., exhausted and inspired by the spirit of giving that our fair city has to offer.

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