IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE
Mobile is a city with many exceptionally talented musicians and lots of venues who support them. We must appreciate our fabulous situation. Most cities our size are lucky to have one show in town....we have choices every night of the week.
Last night my podcast team, Pat French, Dotty Armour and I headed to Callaghan’s Irish Social Club. This is a place that serves the best bacon cheeseburgers in town and offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Everyone is there for the right reasons and it feels a lot like a reunion of family and friends as necks are hugged, hands are shaken and easy flowing banter and laughter fills up the room and spills out onto the street .
The Marlow Boys provided the music on this Wednesday evening and I was as excited and wild-eyed as a child at Chuck E. Cheese's. This night we arrived early to allow time to eat before the show began. I changed my order and got the Reuben Sandwich and it did not disappoint. It was wonderful, fresh and tasty, served by the most attentive waitress.
Now, I was ready to focus on the stage area where I had been watching the band set up and do sound check. So far I liked what I was hearing and it whetted my appetite for the sounds that were headed our way. I have heard these guys before (but not in this combination as The Marlow Boys)…so I knew this would be a treat.
Phil Proctor, Stan Foster, Joe Langley and Karl Langley joined to become The Marlow Boys. Four seasoned professionals who are personable, very talented and all around great men. How could this be anything but spectacular?
Phil Proctor is a high school teacher by day and a fabulous musical talent by night. Don’t take my word for it, he was voted Best Guitarist 2016 and 2017 in the Nappie Awards; so many others agrees with my assessment of his skills. Phil is the whole package. He does lead and back-up vocals, he plays lead guitar (acoustic and electric), he plays mandolin as well. He doesn’t just play them, he is lord and master over them! He shushes off compliments as the audience applauds his solos and hoots and hollers for his extremely good performances. Such a humble genius in music should be soaking it all in but he lets it bounce off of himself and keeps on doing what he does best. This man owns our hearts.
Stan Foster plays bass and he is one of the best in Mobile. Not only does he play, he also sings lead and back-up, depending on the song. He is easy on the eyes and he makes playing the bass look so smooth. Stan is the glue that holds things together. I watched as they set up and began sound check. Stan is much like a mother hen as he made sure everyone was comfortable and everyone had what they need. He also made time for people who wanted to engage him and get a hug. Stan is a natural as he speaks to us from the stage to let us know what was coming up next and who might be joining the band for a song. (Last night, as often happens in Mobile, there were talented musicians in the audience.) Stan Foster is...he is...he is Stan Foster, there is no other like him. To me Stan makes me feel like I matter to him and that is a great feeling. Stan is a ray of light, if you have had a rough day…go see Stan Foster, you will be lifted up.
Karl Langley is the drummer. He is so much more. He is a percussionist who knows how to finesse the drums. I have watched many drummers over the years. I pay close attention to them at shows. This guy reminds me in some ways of Greg DeLuca and John Milham as he has knowledge of when to bang the drum hard and when to back off and support the song gently with the touch of his hands or with the use of percussive manipulation that leads the song to its destination. The drummer has the weight of that song on his shoulders; he can support it or he can drop it…Karl was not about to drop anything! Karl also sings lead and back-up. I really enjoyed the Bob Dylan classic they did "Serve Somebody" as Karl sang the lead and WOW it blew me away!
Last but far from least…(there is no least in this group). Joe Langley is not only gorgeous to look at, he is a treat for the ears as well. He does lead and back-up vocals. He plays guitars (electric and acoustic), laptop steel guitar, mandolin, harmonica, banjo and I even saw him with a shaker in his hand…so, he is a bit of a percussionist too. Those beautiful sounds he made on the laptop steel touched us deeply. There is just something about the uniqueness of the sound of a steel guitar that grabs my heart tightly and holds on for a while. I still feel it as I write this blog. Joe started the show with a song called "Technicolor"..."without you, my life would be a technicolor memory"... Joe sang many other songs but the one about his daughter Kate brought tears to our eyes.
Special guests are commonplace in this town when it comes to music. The band began playing a gospel song and pulled Jef Funk up to join them. The energy Jef puts into playing harmonica, makes it sound full and it livens up the music. That harmonica stirred everyone up who was there. The audience began clapping and shouting when Jef Funk started playing. Soon Joe wanted to join in with his harmonica and before you knew it we were watching a Harmonica Duel. It was a duet that quickly evolved into a competition of sorts. The winners were all of of us in the audience. It was a first for me and I really liked it! Two fine harmonica players dueling makes for a happy place.
One of the songs I liked on "The Marlow Boys"CD is "It's all about love". This is a song that is sweet and reassuring.
"When your little boat begins to sink"
"The wind and waves crash in, you're on the brink"
"Don't you worry nothings gonna take"
"I won't let you fall for heavens sake"
"Because its all about love love love"
"All about love"
Jef Funk joined the band again for a couple of songs and filled in any empty spaces that needed him. He is a master on that harmonica and it shows.
One of the final songs of the evening was a favorite by Hank Becker, “Standing Around In The Rain”. Ben Jernigan was in the audience and he sang lead on this familiar song. Many of us in the crowd joined in on the chorus and many swayed to the music and raised their hands in applause. The line in that song that hits me hardest is: “I wouldn’t even know myself if I didn’t have all this pain.” Hank struggled for years and still none of us were ready to let him go. He was a mentor to many young musicians in our city.
Another standout song was one written by Phil Proctor and his daughter Maggie. It is called "On The Platform"...be on the lookout for that one. I understand Maggie will be performing on the CD as well. I can't wait to hear it.
There is a special place in my heart for music and for musicians. I know first hand about the deep disappointments and the sky-high elations of the life of a musician. Music is embedded in their DNA, they must take the good and the bad in stride to survive.
Music is about touching people, touching them deeply and helping them forget any problems they might be facing. Remember "It is all about love". Thank you to The Marlow Boys and to Callaghan's Irish Social Club for an evening of great entertainment!