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George Harrison Tribute (Friday, February 25th, 2005, Turf St. Paul)

By Cyn Collins

Fe: Slim Dunlap, Curtiss A, Chris Dorn (and the OC Hopefuls), 33 & 1/3, John Ewing, Little Man and Joey Molland

Note: I only caught half of this show, as I also attended the Heartless Bastards and Split Lip Rayfield show at the 400.

I felt what seemed like warm rays from the sun when I walked in the George Harrison Birthday Party #2 and saw a large laid-back crowd looking up hopefully at organizer Tony Zaccardi (Kruddler, Baby Grant Johnson Band) and peering at their tickets for the “guitar giveaway.” Many on hand were dressed in ‘60’s and ‘70’s British hair and fashion adding to the festivity of the Birthday party. Warmth and humor abounded amongst those in attendance to see their friends and favorite performers play.

I was sad that I missed Joey Molland of Badfinger, who played with Harrison a lot, and Little Man, as I love that band, but I was in time to catch Nate, of Willie’s Guitars do a sweet rendition of “Something,” on a uke, an instrument I’m beginning to think may be underrated as I seem to enjoy it each time I hear it. Nate introduced the song by mentioning that he had actually sold a few ukes to uke-fan, George Harrison.

We were treated to seeing Chris Dorn (Beatifics), who’s been playing solo a lot lately, actually play with a band, including Heath Henjum on bass, Jason Keillor on guitar and Craig Grossman on drums. The set was comprised of songs I had never heard, but were incredible and well-executed, played with a vibrant rock ‘n’ roll passion, and spirit that I’d not really seen in Dorn this past year.

Clearly, Dorn needs to play in a band setting more frequently. The band both sounded great and was exciting to watch. The psychedelic songs felt psychedelic and transported me back to the late 60’s and ‘70’s. Indeed, the songs were obscure Harrison songs intentionally selected by Dorn for that reason as he’s a big fan of Harrison and has done a lot of research on the obscure material. The first song was “Sour Milk Sea,” that Harrison wrote and produced when the Beatles were first signed to Apple records. In 1968, Jackie Lomax recorded it. It never made it on a Beatles album.

Then they did the Ringo Starr number “Wrack My Brain” which is on Stop and Smell the Roses, one of Ringo Starr’s last recordings, and which Dorn informed me outperformed any other Beatles member recording out at the time. “It Don’t Come Easy” was next, a song oft-credited as being written by Starr, but which by many accounts was co-written by Harrison with Starr. Dorn further informed me that there is a bootleg with George singing this song.

Dorn’s band (which has dubbed themselves the O.C. Hopefuls) went on to play, “Isn’t It a Pity” from All Things Must Pass. The show received wild applause. I was happy to learn that Dorn misses playing in a full band setting and is looking forward to doing more of that soon.

Next up, was Curtiss A who played till the very end and nearly beyond as you would expect with any show of his. It was again an opportunity to hear and see people play that just don’t play in a band setting nearly enough. They were: Curtiss A, guitar, John Ewing (Blue Violets), guitar and vocals (beautiful red guitar, btw), Steve Brantseg, guitar, vocals (of Hillbilly Voodoo Dolls), Brantseg’s brother Pat, drums, and Dale Kaulman (who used to play with Ol’ Yeller) bass, vocals. They were wildly enthusiastic and sounded terrific, with Ewing and Kaulman harmonizing, and Steve Brantseg leading most of the vocals. They camped it up and had lots of fun. I hadn’t seen Ewing play other than solo or duets, but have heard many great things about his local legendary band the Blue Violets. He has a recording that’s ready to go but for the finishing touches, so with a little luck we’ll get to hear this released this year.

Curtiss A’s band covered a lot of territory of band vs. solo material written by George Harrison over various periods of his life. The list included “Cry for a Shadow,” (Beatles) “For You Blue,” (Beatles) “Handle Me with Care,” from Harrison’s work as a Travelling Wilbury, that was every bit as fun if not more so, “Let It Down,” (solo) “Love You To,” (Beatles) “Isn’t It a Pity,” (solo).

The wildly enthusiastic audience didn’t want this great evening to end and asked for an encore. For this, Curtiss A’s band played “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” “Chains,” and “I Need You.” By the end it was a wall of guitars, joy and laughter.

Cyn Collins is at cyn.collins[at]