Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Acoustic G10 Lead Series Guitar Amplifier Review


Acoustic brand amplifiers have been around since the late 1960s when Steve Marks and his dad founded the company from their shop on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. They made huge amps that were popular with major artists of the time, and have sort of plodded along since then, and they currently sell mostly low-end amps that are not a whole lot different than everything else on the market. Today we are looking at their G10 Lead Series amplifier, the smallest model in a new line-up that extends up to the G120 DSP (which is a 120-watt amp with four 12-inch speakers).

The Acoustic G10 is described by the company as being“ideal for solo practice or small band rehearsal.” I guess this is mostly true: it is fine for solo practice, and would work for a rehearsal – if you put a microphone in front of it and put it through a larger amplifier. This is a budget model 10-watt solid-state amp with an 8-inch speaker, so you just are not going to be able to move that much air and have it sound nice. Not that this is a bad unit, but you have to know your limitations.

This is a very portable unit, measuring 14’ by 7″ by 14″, and weighing just a touch over 14 pounds. The G10 is very simple to use, and it has two switchable channels that both sound pretty good. The lead channel provides volume and gain, and the rhythm channel has a volume control. They both share a 3-band EQ with a mid-range shift switch. Also on the control panel is a single input, the channel switch, a 1/8-inch aux input, and a 1/8-inch headphone out. This makes for a pretty awesome practice amp set-up. That is about it, except for the power switch on the front and the IEC power socket on the back. There is no footswitch or jack for channel switching, no effects, and no aux speaker out.

Build quality on this thing is good. The vinyl is neatly applied, and the wiring is tidy. The pots have a rather cheap feel to them, but this is not surprising as this is a cheap amp. There is a bit of hiss to it when it is on without the guitar being played, but it is not really noticeable once you start playing.

The sound of this Acoustic amp is pretty solid, too. The clean channel is warm sounding until you crank a lot of volume through it, then it breaks up in a really bad way. The lead channel has a very useable gain, and sounds really awesome with my Les Paul. This thing is more than good enough for the casual bedroom or garage player.

The Acoustic Lead Series G10 is a solid practice amplifier, and it is worth the money but I do recommend that you shop around a bit. The list price on these is $129.99 (really?) with a street price of $59.99, and I saw stacks of them at Guitar Center on Black Friday for $40. You are not really going to get a decent practice amp for much less than that…


Monday, November 28, 2016

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Aaron Burton – All Night Long

Good day!

This CD review was originally published in the April 9, 2015 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Aaron Burton – All Night Long

Self Release

14 tracks / 51:48

As blues has evolved over time it has strayed pretty far from its original formula, but country and folk blues usually stays pretty true to the original sources of the genre. Aaron Burton’s self-released sixth album, Up All Night, falls into this latter category, and delivers a solid collection of roots and blues music with a Lone Star influence.

Aaron Burton hails from the Dallas / Fort Worth area, and he has shared his pleasant drawl and fine stringed-instrument prowess around the United States and all the way to the United Kingdom, where he is gaining a respectable collection of new fans. On Up All Night he takes care of the vocals, guitar, mandolin and dulcimer, and he his joined by “Stompin” Bill Johnston on the harp and Dick Cordes behind the drum kit. There are fourteen self-penned tracks on this release, with a couple of neat covers worked into the set.

The title track is up first, and it is readily apparent that Burton has put together a power country blues trio with a big sound. “All Night Long” starts with a dulcimer ostinato and quickly adds slide guitar and mandolin. Johnston’s harmonica takes an active role, filling in the parts that would normally be covered by a second guitar or keyboard. When you add Cordes’ hard-hitting drums into the mix, the effect is quite huge.

Burton’s guitar work is very good, but he does not show off as he plays only the notes and chords that are really necessary. This makes the CD more accessible to a larger audience and provides a more laid-back vibe. His vocals are rich and appropriately growly at times – perfect for the style of blues he is selling.

Aaron is a good storyteller and a capable songwriter as shown by “The Day Big Tex Caught Fire,” a tune that uses the classic blues lyrical style and his electric guitar to recount the loss of the famed Texas State Fair icon back in 2012. He also does a stunning job of capturing the listener’s attention and emotion with “Hard Luck Child,” a more modern blues tune that tells the sorry tale of innocent folks who never had a shot at happiness in their lives.

Despite the heaviness of this last tune, Burton maintains an upbeat mood for much of the album, with light-hearted songs about things that most folks can relate to. And those things are the highs and lows of relationships with the opposite sex. A great example of this is the good sense of humor he maintains as he tries to cut a deal with his ex in “Don’t Talk Bad About Me” (and I sure won’t talk bad about you).

The covers on Up All Night are pretty cool, and they include Charlie Patton‘s “Pony Blues” and Blind Willie McTell’s 1928 standard, “Statesboro Blues.” They both end up being a lot closer to the originals than the countless other versions out there, so if you really love the Canned Heat or Allman Brothers takes on these, you might be a bit let down. But, as they are, they are refreshingly different than what we have come to expect and they fit much better into the overall theme of this release.

The set closes out with a bonus track, “I’m Your Santa Claus,” which might be a fun inclusion for your next holiday party, and it is one last chance to hear some awesome harp work from Stompin’ Bill. Well, it should probably be an adult party, as there are plenty of double entendres that are set to the tune of John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man” (famously covered on Van Halen’s debut album).

Aaron Burton is a fine musician and a mature songwriter, and Up All Night is his best work since he first entered the studio ten years ago. If you are a fan of roots music or country blues, this CD will be just what you are looking for. Also, if you are near Dallas anytime soon, be sure to check out his website as he has a heavy gigging schedule in the DFW metro area, including a regular Tuesday night Delta Blues Jam at The Goat in East Dallas.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

1987 Aria Pro II XRB-2A Electric Bass Review

Hi there!

Today we are looking at a bass that is pretty darned close to one that I bought new back when I was in college. This is a 1987 Aria Pro II XRB-2A bass, finished in transparent red over a flamed maple top and back. These models were made from 1987 to 1989, and were some of the last Aria instruments that were made in Japan before production moved to Korea.

If you remember the mid to late 1980s, there was a lot of metal music floating around, and everybody knew that if you wanted to bang heads, you needed a pointy headstock on your guitar. This bass delivers exactly that and more: a Precision Bass body, a Jazz Bass neck, P-J active pickups, AND a pointy headstock. Boom!

I am pretty sure that all of the XRB basses came with alder bodies, but this one is unique and I have never seen one with the figured maple top and back before. But I figure the body is still alder underneath, as it weighs the same as other ones that I have owned - around 8 ¾ pounds. The body is nicely contoured without losing the pleasantly traditional Fender shape.

The body is loaded up with a set of Aria P and J pickups that are powered by a 9-volt preamp. The controls include a master volume control (that can actually be clicked to an off position), a tone knob, and a blend knob with a center detent. The blend knob seems like overkill as there is also a 3-way pickup selector switch. The other toggle switch changes the electronics from active mode to passive mode, though there is no real benefit to this as the tone is about the same in either setting, though it would be handy if the pre-amp battery happens to go dead at the most inopportune time. Maybe the pre-amp is crapping out on me…

My favorite part of this Aria bass is the neck, which is eerily similar to the one on the Fender Jazz Bass Specials. The profile is very similar and easy to play, with a thin jazz profile and a 1/5-inch wide nut. There is clear glossy poly sprayed on the back of the maple neck, and the rosewood fretboard has 21 frets with tiny dot markers (for some reason the marker for the 21st is missing). There are no string trees, as that pointy headstock is tilted back 14 degrees to hold the proper string tension across the nut.

The condition of this XRB-2A bass is amazing, and there is almost no wear and the only blemish is a little cracking in the veneer around the output jack. The bass plays well, but it sounds kind of meh. I like the idea of this bass a lot (and part of that is probably sentimental value) so this one might be a candidate for a pickup change, and I am thinking of going with a set of EMGs.

I will let you all know what happens!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: The Hep Cat Boo Daddies – Down Right Nasty

Good day!

This CD review was originally published in the March 12, 2015 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

The Hep Cat Boo Daddies – Down Right Nasty, A Tribute to Sean “Evil” Gerovitz

Mosher Street Records

11 tracks / 55:30

If you are not from South Florida you may never have heard of them, but back in the day the Hep Cat Boo Daddies played an intriguing blend of blues, rockabilly and surf music. Though the band went their separate ways in 2010, they recently put together a tribute album dedicated to their bass player who had passed away in 2013. Down Right Nasty, a Tribute to Sean “Evil” Gerovitz is a fine way to remember this departed soul.

The Hep Cat Boo Daddies came about after the demise of Sean Gerovitz and Joel DaSilva’s old psychobilly band, Underbelly. Based out of the Fort Lauderdale area, the band played almost every week at the Poorhouse Bar as a trio with DaSilva on vocals and guitar, Gerovitz on bass, and Randy Blitz on drums. The mostly played live, but they also put out two CDs and a DVD in the mid-2000s. This new album is made up of material culled from their set at the 2004 Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk Blues Fest and their 2005 session at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. In the final mix for this disc, most of the songs are from the live show.

Their set kicks off with the original studio recording of “The Fatboy Shake,” an instrumental that starts with a Bo Diddley beat and then transitions into a hard-rocking surf tune. From there they change directions and play a live version of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” with rockabilly-style vocals. On both of these songs, DaSilva shows great prowess on the guitar, so it is not too much of a stretch as they transition in a “You,” a 6-minute AOR jam that could have come from a mid-70s Robin Trower album. This trio rocks!

After this, the rest of Down Right Nasty is all live material. Covers include a hard rocking version of Lazy Lester’s “Sugar Coated Love” (with lounge singer vocals), a slightly sloppy version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child,” and the rockabilly fun of Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials’ “Chicken, Gravy and Biscuits.” They threw Alec Rice Miller’s “I’m Just a Playboy” into the mix, and it ends up sounding like an energetic drum solo with a 12-bar blues song laid over the top of it. There is also Ron Holden and the Thunderbirds’ 1940 song, “My Babe” with blistering guitar work, punk rock drums and a jamming bass interlude. This is the standout track of the album and it really captures what the band was all about.

Their original tunes are very solidly written, including the more conventional blues of “Evil Woman,” a nine-minute live track. Guest artist Joe Saint brings his classy organ work to “Beale St. Shuffle” which provides a fun break from the rest of the guitar-centered playlist. Lastly, they chose to wrap things up with their usual show closer, “Double Surf,” a high-energy surf rock instrumental.

As you can see, there is a little something for everybody in this CD. So, if you only listen to classic blues material, the Hep Cat Boo Daddies’ Down Right Nasty, a Tribute to Sean “Evil” Gerovitz will surely expand your horizons. If you give it a chance you might even want to track down their previous albums, Long Time Comin’ and hotrodsexgod, as they were a seriously tight and creative trio who gave it their all in their live show and in the studio. Check it out for yourself to see if it is your cup of tea!

Gonzalo Bergara – Zalos Blues | Album Review

Gonzalo Bergara – Zalo’s Blues

Self Release

12 tracks / 37:26

Gonzalo Bergara’s latest album, Zalo’s Blues, was really not what I was expecting to hear from him. You see, this Argentinian guitarist and bandleader made a name for himself as an acoustic Gypsy Jazz guitarist, and he is probably one of the best players of this genre in the world. He has received much respect for this work from the glossy guitar magazines, but who would have thought that he would do an electric blues album, and actually do all of the singing too?

Well, Gonzalo plugged in, stepped up to the microphone, and it all worked out well! Bergara’s guitar skills translated well to the electric, and Zalo’s Blues is a killer album. Gonzalo wrote eleven of the dozen tracks on this disc, and he was joined in the studio by bassist Mariano D’Andrea and drummer Maximiliano Bergara. Are they related? Who knows?

The first song in the trio’s set is “Drawback,” an uptempo instrumental that is sort of a jazzy shuffle. Gonzalo sets the stage here by starting out strong, and he proves that he has no problems at all with his electric guitar technique. Bergara burns through quite a few instrumentals on this disc, including the Jeff Beck-esque “Dirty Socks,” the funky jazz of “Been Runnin’,” the heavy blues rock of “Levi,” and the pretty ballad, “Ines.” On all of these songs, Mariano and Maximiliano do a stout job of laying down the groove and they are as tight of a backline as anyone could hope to play with.

Gonzalo also sings on most of the tracks, and his voice is good, though maybe a bit limited in range. Bergara’s guitar covers a lot of genres here, and one of my favorite tunes is “Gonna Go” a wild piece of country roadhouse music that provides Zalo with the opportunity to do his best Albert Lee impression. He does not disappoint the listener, as he is one mean guitar-picking machine. Another standout piece is “Woosh, ” a song that was recorded in Los Angeles in 2003, and this hard-rocking song features Vince Bilbro on bass and Michael Partlow on drums. This song has a complex build, and it takes more than one listen to hear everything that is going on – this is amazing stuff!

The lone cover is Jimmy Reed’s “You Don't Have to Go,” and after sampling Reed’s intro, the band provides an extra-heavy take on this classic tune from 1954. Gonzalo does a fabulous job of howling out the distorted vocals as Maximiliano beats his snare drum to death -- these fellows really know how to rock…

Zalo’s Blues is not a very long album, and before 40 minutes have gone by it is all over. I think it is a real winner and I am not alone: none other than Charlie Baty and Junior Watson both have high praise for Gonzalo Bergara’s work. Anybody that loves guitar music will dig this one, so why don't you check it out for yourself and let me know what you think?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Victor Bailey: March 27, 1960 to November 11, 2016

Rest in peace, Victor.

Mick Kolassa – Taylor Made Blues | Album Review

Mick Kolassa – Taylor Made Blues

Swing Suit Records

12 tracks / 48:09

Mick Kolassa has been a bluesman for decades, and over the years he has become an accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist. But his waters go a lot deeper than that, as he is also on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation and all of the proceeds from his latest album, Taylor Made Blues, will be going to the HART Fund and Generation Blues charities that are administered by the Blues Foundation. If you are not familiar with these organizations, please look them up as they help artists in need and kids that are getting into the blues.

Kolassa’s latest CD is a solid set that includes eight Kolassa originals and four really neat cover tunes. This project was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis and it was produced by Jeff Jensen -- this was the successful formula for his last release, Ghosts of the Riverside Hotel). This disc features a host of Mick’s friends, including Jensen, Victor Wainwright, Bill Ruffino, Reba Russell, Chris Stephenson, “Long Tall Deb” Landolt, and more. Of course Kolassa plays his acoustic guitar and handles most of the vocals too. The album title is a play on Mick’s hometown of Taylor, Mississippi, which is just an hour and a half south of Memphis.

Kolassa shares his love for all kinds of blues in his original songs, and one of my favorites is the title track, a slick piece of laid back swampy blues that extolls the joys of sticking a little closer to home and living in a small town. Likewise, “My Hurry Done Broke” is a humorous country blues song that bemoans the impatience of others, especially when they are younger than you. And “I’m Getting Late” is a clever play on words that describes getting a little too close to the tornado that the gig scene can be. By the way, Bill Ruffino and James Cunningham hold down the backline throughout, and one could not hope for a better rhythm section.

But not every track is loaded up with chuckles and grins, as Mick uses song to express all kinds of emotions. For example, “Left Too Soon” is a sweet piece of jazzy blues that is used to convey regret for things that were left undone. And the closer, “Raul Was My Friend,” is a poignant tribute to a cherished friend, and this ballad is simply gorgeous.

The cover tunes are an interesting lot too, as they have been re-imagined a bit from their original versions. Graham Nash’s quirky pop tune “Prison Song” has been converted to slow-grinding blues with updated lyrics and gorgeous guitar work, including some baritone guitar from Colin James. The late Townes Van Zandt’s 1969 folk tune, “Lungs” is now suitable for a cocktail lounge, and Chris Stephenson’s piano really helps to set the mood. The Temptations’ funk masterpiece “Can't Get Next to You” is now a smooth blues rocker with backing vocals from Russell and Landolt, B3 from Stephenson, and guitar from special guest Castro “Mr. Sipp” Coleman. But the most fascinating of these is not even really a cover song, as Mick set Frank Lebby Stanton’s poem “Keep a Goin’” to a country blues / gospel soundtrack, complete with a vocal solo from Long Tall Deb.

If you just listen to the content and the musicianship, you will find that Mick Kolassa’s Taylor Made Blues is a really neat album that would make any blues fan happy. But, when you throw in the fact that the proceeds will further blues music education and help out musicians in need, this CD should be at the top of your purchase list. Why don’t you start your holiday shopping early, and pick up a copy today!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Good News: 2017 Winter NAMM Show


I have attended the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim many times, but I have always had to beg for passes from friends and associates in the music business. Well, the show is coming around again and I started going through the contacts list in my phone, and I had a moment of clarity during which I said to myself “Why can’t I get a media pass to the show?”

It really does make sense: I have a blog with almost a million hits that focuses on reviewing music and musical equipment – maybe the National Association of Music Merchants would allow me to attend and write about the cool new gear that will be introduced. Apparently they agreed and they have issued Rex and the Bass a credential!

This made me as giddy as a schoolgirl, and I look forward to the show. Of course I will be sure to let you all know what new and exciting stuff is coming up for 2017, and will snap a few pics too.


(photo credit, Getty Images for NAMM)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Review of Celine Dion at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace


Well, this may surprise some of my loyal readers, but during this month’s trip to Las Vegas I just had to go see Celine Dion’s stage show at the Colosseum inside Caesar’s Palace. Why? She is one of the most popular entertainers on the planet, and she has an amazing voice. ‘nuff said.

The Wednesday night show was pretty full, but it was easy enough to get a ticket in the first mezzanine. Unfortunately service charges for the ticket were over 30% of the ticket price. And, it was kind of a nightmare to get into the hotel and across the crowded casino floor to get to the theater, but once I got there the staff was great. There will call line moved quickly and the ushers were super nice.

The interior of the Colosseum is around the size of a typical large Broadway house, and it seemed like all of the seats had a really good line of sight. Show time was scheduled for 7:30PM, but the lights did not go out until 8:00PM. Then there was a brief video introduction of Dion’s history with Caesar’s, which goes back to 2003, and this was her 1002nd show here.

When she kicked the show off, it was nothing but Vegas spectacular. The stage was huge, and Celine had it filled up with risers and a 30-piece orchestra. She is close to 50, but here voice is amazingly strong and you can hate her all you want, but she can really sing. Of course Dion did the expected power ballads, but she can do strong jazz and scat too. I never saw that coming.

”First rate” is the only way to describe the musicians in the show. The show was broken up into blocks, so there were portions with the full orchestra, with a jazz trio, and an acoustic set. During costume changes the band would do medleys of popular tunes, and they would sit patiently as Celine yakked with the crowd. These folks were 100% professional.

During all of this there were clever uses of multiple video screens to convey a sense of history and to add to the artistic content of the stagework. The lighting was also fantastic, and the movement of the risers around the stage was neat as it provided a visual break between the sections of the show.

The content is probably about what you would expect, with a few surprises. There was a Prince tribute, where Dion covered “Kiss” and “Purple Rain,” complete with a killer solo from her guitarist. And to close out the show she did "My Heart Will Go On" (that one from the Titanic movie) and Queen’s “The Show Much Go On.” I never saw that one coming, it was quite a jaw dropper and she did a good job with it.

The show ran about 90 minutes, which seemed like just enough Celine for me. As an added bonus, the show got out just in time to watch the last out of the World Series on the big screens at Caesar’s sports book. Congratulations Cubs!

If you are ever in Sin City, I have to recommend that you see Celine’s show, even if you cannot stand her. She has an amazing voice, the musicians are incredible, the lighting and sets are to die for, and it is pure Vegas. Trust me!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

1984 Ibanez RB630 Roadstar II Electric Bass Review


Today we are looking at a gem of a bass that I recently picked up, a 1984 Ibanez RB630 Roadstar II Electric Bass. This is one of the great instruments that were being built by FujiGen Gakki’s Japanese factories back in the 80s.

The Roadstar II is, unabashedly, a copy of the venerable Fender Precision Bass. Yeah, it has a goofy headstock shape, but the body shape, electronics, playability and sound are P-Bass all the way. For starters, look at the body profile. The basswood body is carved into the distinctive Precision profile, and it is finished in a nice thick and shiny black coat of what appear to be poly. These were also available in burgundy, if I remember correctly.

The body has a 3-ply W-B-W pickguard, and it is loaded up with a “Super P4” pickup that is wired through the expected volume and tone pots. Sadly, the original “Sure Grip II” knobs for these are missing, and they have been replaced with really inappropriate looking Stratocaster knobs. Also missing are the funky “Dead End” boomerang strap pins, as somebody has installed pathetic little strap buttons. Boo.

The fellow that sold this bass to me told me it was a 1983 model, but in 1983 Roadstar basses still had two-on-a-side tuners, and this one has the 1984 style 4-in-line tuners. The headstock is kind of big and ungainly, but at the time Ibanez said it was designed this way to “provide a more balanced distribution of sound vibration.” On the back of the headstock is a set of “Hercules B” open gear tuners. They must be strong, and don't worry -- this is the last of the crazy Ibanez part names I will be throwing at you today.

Like all of the RB630 basses, this one has a maple fretboard, and there are 21 fairly chunky frets sunk into it. Truss rod adjustment is at the heel of the neck, but there is a really nice cutout in the body and pickguard so it is not too hard to get to. Like a P-bass, the neck is pretty fat, and it is about 1/5/8 inches wide at the nut. This is a 34-inch scale bass, and it balances well on a strap, which is good because it is a tad heavy, coming in at around 9.3 pounds.

Other than the changed parts (including that black plastic nut), this Ibanez is in pretty good shape, with not much fret wear and only a dings and chips on the body. 33 years have been pretty kind to this thing. It has a fresh set-up with DR strings, and I is really a nice player. They neck is comfy, and the tone is very good. Oddly enough, the tone knob actually seems to do something on this bass. Usually on P-basses I dime the tone knob and forget bout it, but on this instrument there are actually a few usable tone settings that are either more warm or more edgy.

This thing is awesome, and I have to say that I have never played a bad Roadstar. These basses are one of the last great values from the golden era of Japanese guitar manufacturing. Check one out if you get the chance!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Musical Theatre West’s Memphis | Theatre Review


I have been a season subscriber to Musical Theatre West for a few years, and have almost always been pleased with their offerings. But, I was a little nonplussed when I saw that Memphis was on the schedule for the 2016-2017 season. Maybe it was because the other three shows in the season are all solid classic musicals, and this one seemed like the odd man out. Anyway, I saw it this past weekend and it turned out to be awesome!

Musical Theatre West has been around since 1952, when they started out as the Whittier Civic Light Opera. Their productions evolved over time, and they went from being an all-volunteer operation to producing full seasons, currently under the capable leadership and vision of Executive Director/produce Paul Garman. Their big shows are hosted by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at Cal State Long Beach, which is a lovely venue with plenty of conveniently located parking (by the way, the price for parking went up to $7 this year). The theater still has only has two restrooms for 1000 people, in case you were wondering...

Memphis has been around for more than a decade, and it played on Broadway from 2009 to 2012, where it earned four Tony Awards, including Best Musical for 2010. The plotline is kind of based on the story of Dewey Philips, a white DJ from Memphis who was a pioneer in bringing “black” music to “white” audiences back in the 1950s. You might think that there would be lots of recycled 50s rock in this show, but surprisingly all of the major numbers are originals and they fit in well with the period that is being portrayed. Credit for this goes to David Bryan (music and lyrics) and Joe Di Pietro (book and lyrics), who put together a passel of really catchy tunes.

The plot follows the careers of Huey (a DJ and promoter) and Felicia (a singer who is on her way to the top). They enter into a mixed race relationship, with all of the accompanying tension and drama that would be expected of this type of union in the 1950s. These themes from Memphis still feel relevant, as all of these tensions are still here today, which is a shame because you think we would have learned a few things in the past 60 years.

This story is told by a cast that is mostly new to MTW, but that does not mean they are not experienced. In fact, I would have to say that Memphis features the best singing and dancing that I have seen in a show from this company. Michael Monroe Goodman (Huey) and Krystle Simmons (Felicia) both have powerful voices, and their acting was above par too. The writers also included secondary characters that were generally likeable, including Delray, Felicia’s brother (Michael A. Sheppard), Huey’s racist mom, Gladys (Julia Cardia), the station’s janitor, Bobby (Jay Donnell), and the station’s boss, Mr. Simmons (James Campbell).

The ensemble also turned in a solid performance, and they were amazing dancers who made good use of Edgar Godineaux’s choreography. Though this is the first time I had seen this show, it was immediately obvious what an important role the ensemble plays, as they do quite a lot of the singing and dancing. Their men’s costumes were not exactly inspired, but Karen St. Pierre did a wonderful job of outfitting the women, as their dresses were awesome.

Visuals for Memphis were very nice. Stephen Gifford’s sets included a pair of building pillars on the side, a bandstand that could be hidden away in the back, and a series of roll-on platforms that included a DJ booth and a bar (among other things). This was a minimalist way to present the stage, but it worked very well and everything was properly visible thanks to Eric Larson’s lighting design. Also, there were cool video elements that were included, but I am not going to spoil the effects if you happen to decide to see the show in person.

The sound was also very good. There was a small onstage band under the supervision of musical director Darryl Archibald. Unfortunately the musicians were not credited in the program, and I have no idea if they were union or not. The sound engineering was also pretty good, and with so many strong singers on stage it must have really kept the sound guys on their toes.

All of this came together well for solid performance. Musical Theatre West did well and Memphis is a worthy show with fine production values and a well-chosen cast. If you have the chance you should get out and see it before it is gone, but leave the little kids at home with a sitter. This is a long show and they will be squirming in their seats a long time before the final curtain falls (it clocks in at 2 ½ hours), not to mention a few decidedly mature scenes that you may have to awkwardly explain to them on the drive home.

If you want to see Memphis at The Carpenter Center you had better hurry as it closes this weekend. There are not many tickets left, so grab them while you can. And, be sure to check out tickets for the remaining three shows of this season: Evita, Carousel, and Mary Poppins. These are all classics, and you can’t beat the value!