SAM BUSH BAND WITH MR. DAVE & WALLY

Sam Bush Band
with David Lindley & Wally Ingram
02.14.02 | Luther Burbank Center, Santa Rosa, CA

I love the Luther Burbank Center, one of the nicest venues in the Bay Area. They recently renovated the hall and put in all new plush theatre seats. They also left about 4-5 rows worth of seats empty in front of the stage, so that there is a large dance area. The LBC used to be very uptight about people dancing, so this is a welcome change. (Note: The show must be designated as a "dance show" or they don't allow it - most reserved seat shows are NOT dance shows - this was General Admission on the floor.) We got in and snagged good 3rd row seats, but after two David Lindley songs people started drifting toward the dance area. We were up and dancing literally a foot from the stage the whole night, plenty of room, friendly crowd - my kind of show!

Mr. Dave opened the show in fine form, with the amazing Wally Ingram on drums/percussion. Wally is a blast to watch up close, he has so many different percussion instruments that he uses. He knows exactly when a tap on the wood block is needed, or a muted bell, or a loud snare. Lindley quickly won over whatever small part of the crowd he didn't already own with his first two songs: "Meth Lab Boyfriend" (about his daughter whose boyfriend turned out to be something she wasn't expecting) and his opus to a cell-phone-and-sunglasses-wearing driver of a green Lincoln Navigator with tinted windows that ran him off the road: "Sport Utilities Suck - Hang Up and Drive, You Blood Clot."

After a break, Sam Bush and his band hit the stage. Sam's music is unusual - electric bluegrass with a jamband soul. He warmed up with a few numbers before launching into a extended instrumental tune with serious psychedelic overtones. The band's solos throughout the night were excellent. During the band intro segment, the band would play classic rock riffs when each member was introduced. As Sam was bantering with the crowd, someone yelled "Free Bird" to big laughs. Sam recoiled in horror but too late - the band was already breaking into it. Sam had no choice but to play the lead guitar part with his fiddle. They played about a minute of it - quite droll.

Near the end of the show, Sam welcomed Dave and Wally back on stage for a couple of tunes. The highlight of the show was a loping "Sittin' On Top of the World" with incredible solo turns by Dave and Wally. Wally came out wearing a ridged metal tie that he tapped/stroked with metal thimbles worn on the fingers. During his solo he was grabbing various noisemakers from his bag of tricks, shaking them, dropping them back to the floor while grabbing something else, bashing things with his knee, just a whirlwind of activity. (G: I thought of you at this moment - standing right up against the stage, practically at Wally's feet - a percussion fan's dream!)

The show ended around 11:30, and after a short post-show parking lot yak, everyone headed their separate ways: One car north to Laytonville, one to the East Bay, one to SF. But for a while we all shared the same musical space, laughed at the same stupid jokes, danced to the same joyous notes. The power of music to unite people who may be chasms apart in their daily lives (yes, even SUV owners) was never clearer.

John Waldman
JamBase | San Francisco, CA
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[Published on: 2/17/02]

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