Scott Morgan's Powertrane
The real thing
by Charmie Gholson
From the May, 2003 issue
After interviewing Scott Morgan in the Blind Pig dressing room, I follow him downstairs and through the crowd as he makes his way toward the stage. People put their hands on him as he lifts his guitar and wades by. Some shout things like "Go get 'em, Scott," and "Tear it up, man!" It's like a scene from Rocky. I find a bar stool strategically located to give me full view of the stage and audience, and I wait for the show to start.
Even though I've never seen Morgan perform, I've done my research. I know that he is a legend both here and in the UK. I know that he and his bands started setting the standards for Detroit rock 'n' roll and "blue-eyed soul" way back in the 1960s. He was the acclaimed vocalist of the Rationals and Sonic's Rendezvous Band. I know that the Rationals predated the MC5 both stylistically and chronologically, and that the interchanging cast of characters with whom he has appeared onstage over the last thirty years are all legendary in their own right. I know that the Blind Pig's booking agent, Jason Berry, considers it a blessing that Morgan plays at the Pig with his current quartet, Powertrane. "He's not like other burnt-out older cats who are resentful that things didn't go right in his career," Berry comments. And now I also know that this crowd worships him.
The four men onstage launch into the first song. Within thirty seconds, a memory tucked deep within me slowly unfolds. I haven't heard rock 'n' roll like this since around 1980, when I was sixteen and the door guys at the Second Chance used to let me in. I haven't heard this music since I went to see Aerosmith and they were young before MTV and the corporate takeover of music.
After the second song, Morgan confesses he's nervous. But then he relaxes, closes his eyes, and leans into
the microphone. The crowd watches motionless from the floor, mesmerized, as if studying a work of art. Morgan and guitarist Richard Gillespie are lifelong rockers, and their music is evenhanded, smooth, and well defined like ballet. Their ease and grace is juxtaposed on stage with the lashing skills of bassist Chris Taylor and drummer Andy Frost, who are considerably younger. From my vantage point, I can clearly see where both generations meet in the middle of the stage and become something very powerful.
Watching the band wind up, I suddenly remember that it was Scott Morgan and Sonic's Rendezvous Band I used to see at the Chance, his music that used to feed my soul twenty-two years ago. That's why I haven't heard real rock 'n' roll since then I haven't been listening to Scott Morgan.
Scott Morgan's Powertrane returns to the Blind Pig on Saturday, May 31.
[Originally published in May, 2003.]
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