The Mother Hips at Pappy & Harriet’s
Well, I mean, it's Pappy & Harriet's. All the myths and legends are true. Close quarters. Dirt roads. Joshua Trees. Great sound. Close enough inside to hear every excited out-of-key audience member. Close enough to feel like I was "doing it on the strings" with the band. Stage height made it so I could almost see eye to eye with Greg and Sheila. Everyone else is so tall I couldn't be eye to eye without a milk crate.
There were Christmas lights wrapped around poles and a low ceiling keeping the sound immediately right in my face, which made me very happy. As J. J. Cale sang, “the sound man mixed [you] to make you sound loud.” A fine job as always coming from the back of the house. Pappy & Harriet’s is a place come alive. Pictures on the wall of all the traveling gods bringing light and music to the desert dwellers and visitors alike. Stains on the floor and license plates on the ceiling, presumably from all the "pioneers" that made it as far as the Mojave and no further. May this venue last forever!
It's the Mother Hips. 30 years of California Soul. Maybe they really did "[sleep] on many floors to get that California sound." I drive all over the West to get my portion of that sound. A month ago, it was Half Moon Bay. Late May in Big Sur. Last night was Pioneertown. Hipsmas in SF in a couple weeks and a celebration of the new record in Chico in a couple months. There’s nowhere I wouldn’t go to get my fill.
There is a gratitude the band seems to live that is not only evident but infectious. It's one of their more endearing qualities. Every single show I have seen at some point Greg and Tim look at each other with a glance that contains all that knowledge that comes from a 30-year relationship. Is Hof in charge? I think so. Drummers. My man crush on Brian is ridiculous; my girlfriend will not stop chiding me…I don’t blame her; it is ridiculous. But when he plays “Honeydew” well, if you know then you know. This is the sound…
For the past year or so, I pray on the way to the venue that Sheila will have her sax sitting on a stand beside her keyboard. The joy she brings is what has always driven my love for music. She embodies everything that is good about the Mother Hips, Rock ‘n Roll, and being a performer!
At one point in this show, Brian, Sheila, and Hof were having a spontaneous eruption of joy behind Tim & Greg (who were in their own world). My daughter and I looked at each other and we both wore smiles from ear to ear. I can’t tell you what a thrill that moment gave us. There are few greater moments than a band feeding off each other, and these folks had a lot of those moments last night.
Opened with “Clean Me Up.” No surprise but always a treat. “This hobo jungle” indeed. Nowhere I’d rather be. “Sunset Blues” is music to this SoCal boy’s ears. And if you aren’t crushing on Brian after hearing “Honeydew” then I don’t know what is wrong with you. “Kansas City Southern” sounded like an old friend’s voice calling me after some long trial and dark clouds.
“One Way Out” makes my daughter sing out loud every time, which is saying something because that is a young lady whose toe-taps are on par with the rest of us shouting our heads off. “Do It on the Strings” is my very favorite song (aside from “Transit Wind” which I still never got to hear live…hope springs eternal in the breast of man, so maybe for Christmas). I have no idea who Kelly Ann is but when Greg sings her name, I feel like I, too, wish she were walking into the room.
The new songs are great. “Codine” and “When We Disappear.” I am getting used to them but the early reactions make me think the rest of the record is going to continue the feeling of home fostered by “Glowing Lantern.” Bring it on, boys! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the record.
I love that Tim thought it necessary to tell us the name after they played “Toughie.” Yeah, Tim, we know. Ha ha. Dude makes me smile without really trying. 1st set ended with “WFF.” “Any legacy of mine is going to be sunshine and I leave it behind as a sign of my love for mankind.” Yeah, lyrical gold nugget right there!
Can I comment on Tim singing the wrong lyrics in “Gold Plated,” admitting it, the band playing through the intro again and Tim course-correcting? My comment is this: Beauteous. Dude has been singing that song since at least ’98. It was beauteous because it was a vulnerable moment and in that moment the band and the crowd embraced him and we moved forward. Nothing ruined. Our grand moment restored. Yeah, Tim, we know “there’s some boys [you] know. Heck, if you wanted us to, we would have sung it for you.
The second set peeled back the layers of this musical journey. “Magazine” and “Smoke” and “Stoned Up the Road” sound right at home in the same set as “Song in a Can” and “Clay Mask Clown.” “Desert Song” and “Rich Little Girl” from the 2011 record make me feel like I am wearing my favorite faded jeans and t-shirt.
Greg’s Tele screams on “Pay the Bill” and always makes me want more room to swing my girl around a bit. And “singing seem to ease me” too, Tim. Speaking of Greg. “Confirmation of Love” and “Del Mar Station” are the soundtrack of both the courtship and demise of an important time for me. Thank you, Greg! Thank you.
Thank you, everyone. For, as always, you did it “on the strings” and made me feel the brotherhood that is this phenomenon called The Mother Hips.