Deke Dickerson & the Trashmen at the Minnesota State Fair, 8/27/14
Photo by Steve Cohen
Deke Dickerson with the Trashmen
Minnesota State Fair's Schell's Stage, St. Paul
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Deke Dickerson teaming with the Trashmen for two nights at the Minnesota State Fair's newly erected Schilling Amphitheater felt like a no-brainer. The legendary Minnesota garage, surf, old school rock 'n' roll band was fresh off another career highlight, their umpteenth release, Bringing Back the Trash, which features Dickerson sitting in with the band.
An influential axeman himself, Dickerson formed his first rockabilly band, Untamed Youth, in the '80s when he was only 17. But he still couldn't get over the fact he has been performing with his childhood heroes spoke earnestly and proudly of the experience of making new music with the band.
Photos by Steve Cohen
Re-energized by Dickerson, the Trashmen brought massive amounts of reverbed amplifiers and their stockpile of garage rock style that had their fans all smiles for the whole night.
For the most part, the Trashmen took advantage of Dickerson's presence as he laid out some of the meaner solos throughout their set. Playing mostly newer material and focusing on their new record, in his consistently in awe and charmingly self-deprecating manner, Dickerson warned the audience, "Here's a song from our new album. If you don't like it, feel free to boo!"
Gradually toes and heels started tapping among the polite audience, and it felt everyone was slowly just warming up to the band's new songs. Ripping through some mean Stratocaster soloing, original guitarist Tony Andreason stood stoically as he tore out staccato melodies that danced about the firm backbeat of replacement drummer Robin Reed. Holding down a steady groove with his father, bassist Rob Reed, Robin also filled in for the famous Trashmen vocals on several songs.
A cold ending on their version of "It's So Easy" would slowly get the audience on edge and ready to move on the wide open dance floor. Only a few young girls seemed to be feeling the music. There was more than one father/daughter combo bopping along to the surf beats. Swinging around in circles with pink blankets, the children were getting the party going as more folks found their way up front.
"Hey, we're playing a lot of the new record and none of you have booed!" Dickerson acknowledged.
Photo by Steve Cohen
As if to tease the audience, Dickerson asked, "What's the Word?" A buzz of the lips hinted at the Trashmen's biggest hit, "Surfin' Bird" but it was only the follow-up, '64's equally solid "Bird Dance Beat." The heavy rhythm and soaring guitars accompanied nicely with the audience singing right along, "Pappa Oo Maw Maw, Pappa Oo Maw Maw."
Slowing things down a bit, Dickerson took the lead in a truly rocking version of perhaps the Trashmen's biggest influence, Link Wray's "Rumble."
With sweetness and a steady beat, picking things up a tad, Dickerson introduced the band's favorite Everly Brothers' song, "Claudette." The sentimental vibe last through each song as Dickerson seemed to keep pinching himself while on stage, "I'm with my favorite band! I really can't believe I'm doing this."
Photo by Steve Cohen
"I have to warn you on this next one if you're easily offended. If you listen really close to the song, it's really about surfing." Kicking things up with another new song, "Flippin' the Bird" carried the gusto of classic Trashmen songs carrying the flavor of Dickerson's touch. The song demonstrated the true beauty of their collaboration while maintaining the go-to theme of the Trashmen's music. The feeling permeated the amphitheater as the dance floor had now filled up.
"I like surf and rock 'n' roll," Dickerson explained. "But I also like country!"
He described the setting when the band first heard country legend George Jones had passed away last year. It inspired the Trashmen to take on the Possom's "White Lightning," which as a genre mash-up sounded as awesome as you would think it would.
The three shimmering Fender guitars on stage coalesced into wonderful melodies as the jazzed-up vocals ran through the Trashmen blender as a genuine tribute to the man. Said Dickerson, "George Jones, I hope he is riding a lawnmower to the liquor store in heaven right about now."
More verbed-out screaming guitar solos on new instrumental, "Good News" and another oldie-but-goodie from '63 and the Surfin' Bird album, "My Woodie" echoed all the way down to the Midway. The lights and spinning rides in the distance made the atmosphere on stage all the more electric.
"This is not the theme song to Pulp Fiction, this is a song from my hero, Link Wray, that these guys recorded and I think was just as good!"
Photos by Steve Cohen
Breaking into "Miserlou," the surf sound had everyone shimmying and fully appreciating the sound and history of the Trashmen as Andreason tore up another soaring solo.
After teasing the audience that the last song would be "Stairway to Heaven," Dickerson and the Trashmen kicked things up to 11 with Robin Reed managing the vocals for the iconic surf rock anthem, "Surfin' Bird." The band of lunatics on the dancefloor had now crowded out the little girls who found themselves running about and making faces at everyone.
The whole rock 'n' roll revival feeling held an impact that found mutual gratification as the Trashmen and Dickerson came out afterward and signed copies of their new record. It was a fantastic combination and true to the spirit of rock 'n' roll. Just another really fun night at the Fair.
Critic's Bias: Wasn't as familiar with Dickerson as the Trashmen
The Crowd: There were little girls running around, punk rockers, topless older men, a guy in a tie-died shirt wearing a mirror ball on his head (not kidding!) and the usual conglomerate of music fans and record nerds.
Overheard in the Crowd: "He doesn't look like Jack Nicholson, he looks like Robert Wagner!!"
Random Notebook Dump: The Boys are back on stage at the Fair tonight. Do yourself a favor and go see it!!
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