Webb Wilder Takes New York
The Fireplace Whiskey Journal, July 3, 1988
Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks, Lone Star Cafe, New York, 6/14/88
It Came From Nashville. The Webb Wilder juggernaut rumbled up Fifth Avenue, through an area of town that you don't go into in broad daylight, forget the night. To its right, the Empire State Building thrust into the glowing blackness; to the left, a status of George Washington guarded the entrance to Washington Square Park. The Webbmonster paused reverently before a giant Texas flag draped over a decaying facade, and then it sallied forth into a universe of deafening sound and limited visibility: the Lone Star Cafe.
The Lone Star is about the size of two Tootsies' Orchid Lounges stacked on top of each other, with a half-moon-shaped hole cut in the floor just above the stage so that some of the people sitting in the rafters can see the band. The bar is a scant five feet in front of the stage, and there are video screens set up in all corners of the bar so that even from the back corners, one can see the band. Sort of.
On this particular evening I wasn't planning to go to a show, but I saw who was playing and decided to stop in and indulge. I began by indulging myself in the $12 cover, and then in a few $4 beers. By the end of the show, however, money seemed to be no object.
Webb and the Beatnecks were tight, energetic, and coherent. They played a set of about twelve or fifteen songs including new and old material. They opened with "Rough Rider," from their LP It Came From Nashville. As the set progressed, the band seemed to grow more and more accustomed to the unusual physical attributes of the building and the problems it presented for sound and logistical purposes. ("I like to move around a lot," Webb told me afterward, "but I'm too big to do much on this stage.") About three songs into the set, some of the new material began to flow between favorites such as "Horror Hayride," "Poolside," and "One Taste Of The Bait."
The band mingled old and new material as if it were the same, calling no attention to the fact that they were playing a new song. (I must say, it really ticks me off to hear a guy say, "yeah, uh, this is a new song." The people who know the band know it's new and to the people who are hearing a band for the first time, everything is new.) The newer, yet to be recorded, songs "Human Cannonball" and "Safe Side" have the same distinctive Webb Wilder beat, but with more of an edge and emphasis on the guitar.
Some of the other new songs, such as "Rock Li'l Baby," have more of the rockabilly tendencies shown in the Beatnecks' earlier work. But one distinctive song was "Skeleton Crew," which the band has been playing for a while, although it did not appear on the album. The song exemplifies the thought-provoking lyrics that are appearing in Webb's new music. Though Webb does not consider himself a very prolific writer, he does write insightful lyrics reflecting the sometimes humorous wisdom that he expounds upon between songs.
After the show, Webb told me that the band is looking at the possibility of cutting a new album, but that there probably would not be anything out before the first of next year. At present, they are more interested in getting their current record into some new markets, such as England, where they are about to distribute It Came From Nashville on Special Delivery Records.