Radiators fans are reeling from the announcement that the legendary New Orleans rock band will call it quits after a series of special hometown shows next June. It certainly is a sad moment for the hard core community of fans who've followed this group over the last 33 years. All is not lost, however. While the band cannot be replaced, and its passing certainly marks the end of an era, it may be possible for most of them to continue in a revamped lineup. One can easily imagine Tommy Malone, younger brother of Radiators frontman Dave Malone, joining the existing lineup minus Ed Volker. Though Tommy is not the prolific songwriter Volker is he's a talented writer, vocalist and guitarist, and he fits naturally with Dave and the others. Whether or not they call it the Radiators or the Headless Fish or something else it will still be good. As for Mr. Volker his extraordinary musical talents will merely be redirected, not lost entirely. He has his side project Jolly House to perform his songs and could also do solo gigs or sit in with other groups. Ed has expressed his desire to stop touring, so it's even conceivable that he might join his former bandmates at select New Orleans performances somewhere down the road. At any rate, the real surprise is not that the Rads are ending but that they managed to stay as fresh and engaging over such a long run.
Meanwhile the band will be playing shows all over the country for the next seven months. This is your last chance to hear what for my money is one of the greatest American rock bands in history. Once upon a time I fretted over the fact that so many tastemakers turned their noses up at a band that certainly hasn't tried to win any fashion awards. Well, those clueless jerks are the real losers. They missed out on one of the great moments in American culture and it truly is their loss.
Friday, November 5, 2010
The great New Orleans bassist Walter Payton Jr. passed away last week and was given an unintentional tribute last night on the David Letterman show. When Letterman announced that one of the rescued Peruvian miners would be a guest on the show Will Lee began playing the distinctive solo bass line that begins the Lee Dorsey hit "Working In a Coal Mine." That bass line was played on the record by Payton. Nobody mentioned the connection but the music was all you needed to tell the story. Nice to hear Walter's music surviving him on national television.