Review by Fred Rudofsky
He can give an extended toast to an audience in fluent Polish, impersonate Peter Falk, Jerry Lewis and Jimmy Stewart with uncanny accuracy, and play blues guitar toe to toe with the best that this great nation has to offer. He’s also an unabashed fan of British rock music circa 1960-1980. Welcome to the genius and versatility of Greater Nippertown native son, Scotty Mac.
A decent-sized crowd at Troy’s Dinosaur Bar-B-Que got to hear over three dozen songs on a recent Friday night billed as Scotty Mac’s Rock Show. Backed by fellow Rockin’ Bonneville Johnny Ellis (bass/vocals), Donnie Moore (drums/vocals) and George Doody (guitar/vocals) – the latter from the All Paul Show, a Beatles cover band that Mac has also played in – Mac’s two sets covered indelible classics as well as deep cuts that appealed to connoisseurs of the British Invasion. “If you liked it in high school, the song’s in!” quipped Scotty Mac.
Opening with a gritty take on “I Hear You Knockin’,” a 1971 hit by Dave Edmunds, the band, which began last April, showed they meant business. The first of five Yardbirds songs for the evening, “I’m Putty in Your Hands,” featured a sinister push-pull rhythm and some stinging lead guitar work.
“One good Yardbirds song deserves another!” announced Mac prior to a killer take of “Heart Full of Soul,” which was a showcase for some thumping drums by Moore and strong vocals by Doody. Later, Mac took the lead vocals on a cool take of “A Certain Girl” (a fave of not only the Yardbirds but The Who, too), a blazing “Over Under Sideways Down,” that channeled the crackin’ tones of Jeff Back with aplomb, and “Shapes of Things,” which sounded more like it was written for 2017 than 1965 given the “alternate facts” zeitgeist that is leaving young and old shaking their heads.
The aforementioned deep cuts often stole the show from the better known hits that classic rock stations and 99-out-of-100 bar bands trot out. The Zombies’ “I Love You” and The Beatles’ “All I’ve Got to Do” brimmed with harmonies by Ellis and Moore; Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy” rocked with gusto and popping vocals by Moore; and Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to Be Kind” got a strong vocal by Doody and some terse melodic fills by Mac, who nailed the cascading 20-second solo perfectly.
The second set, which appealed to the “after hours” (past midnight revelers) crowd, was eclectic and satisfying. The Bee Gees’ “To Love Someone” got a Small Faces-worthy lead vocal by Doody, who also took the spotlight on “Needles and Pins” and “Ticket to Ride.” Moore grinned like a lottery winner during his swinging turn on Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” (which The Beatles covered in 1965 for the “Help!” soundtrack). Mac, opting for a Columbo-like farewell and thank you, counted off Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman”; the psychedelic gem got a funky, sparse arrangement that showcased the instrumental talents of everybody in the band and left one wondering what treasures Mac and company will dig up and polish up for the next gig, which will hopefully be soon.
SCOTTY MAC’S ROCK SHOW SET LIST
“I Hear You Knockin'” (Dave Bartholomew)
“Shakin’ All Over” (Johnny Kidd & the Pirates)
“I’m Putty in Your Hands” (The Yardbirds)
“Heart Full of Soul” (The Yardbirds)
“Stop Your Sobbin'” (The Kinks)
“Rockin’ All Over the World” (John Fogerty)
“No Matter What You Do” (Badfinger)
“A Certain Girl” (Allen Toussaint)
“Here Comes the Night” (Them)
“The Story in Your Eyes” (The Moody Blues)
“Strange Brew” (Cream)
“I Love You” (The Zombies)
“Ride My See Saw” (The Moody Blues)
“All I’ve Got to Do” (The Beatles)
“A Hard Day’s Night” (The Beatles)
“It Don’t Come Easy” (Ringo Starr)
“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (Paul Revere & the Raiders)
“Bus Stop” (The Hollies)
“Last Train to Clarksville” (The Hollies)
“Over Under Sideways Down” (The Yardbirds)
“19th Nervous Breakdown” (The Rolling Stones)
“The Last Time” (The Rolling Stones)
“I Wanna Be Your Man” (The Beatles)
“Tired of Waiting” (The Kinks)
“All Day and All of the Night” (The Kinks)
“She’s Not There” (The Zombies)
“Apache” (The Shadows)
“Walk Don’t Run” (The Ventures)
“Cruel to Be Kind” (Nick Lowe)
“Shapes of Things” (The Yardbirds)
The After Hours Set
To Love Someone (The Bee Gees)
Needles and Pins (The Searchers)
Act Naturally (Buck Owens)
Ticket to Ride (The Beatles)
Sunshine Superman (Donovan)