By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
BILLY JOE SHAVER at Club Lingerie, April 20
Veteran outlaw country bard Billy Joe Shaver turned up in Hollywood wearing a big black hat, but he sure as hell wasn't playing the villain. While many of his previous shows have been chaotic, rocked-up free-for-alls, this time around Shaver's streamlined, subtle presentation was all about his songs, and with 30 years of raggedy poetics to draw from, he conjured a far-reaching and impressive two hours' worth of them. Fronting a four-piece band anchored by multi-instrumentalist Bobby Brown, Shaver exhibited a casual poise and more professional approach than he's ever had, but remained completely natural. This is a man who has seen his personal life dismantled by a pair of unimaginably painful losses, and while he has perhaps retreated into music as a means of escape, the results of the withdrawal are frequently spectacular.
While his self-professed method of writing is to turn out songs so simple "that the dumbest guy in the world can understand them," Shaver's works are models of sly metaphor and graphic imagery that manage to achieve greatness about 99 percent of the time. Ranging from such country staples as flag-waving, exultations of motherhood and hardcore drinking songs to his own peculiar brand of cosmological spiritualism, Shaver was alternately tender and thundering, a soul searcher whose ongoing quest for peace of mind and an understanding of life and death extended directly to everyone in the room.
Whether via blunt bumper-sticker style pronouncements ("If you don't love Jesus," he remarked with a grin, "go to hell!") or through evocative, delicate songs like "I'm Gonna Live Forever," Shaver's ability to proselytize without stepping on a sinner's toes is remarkable. The show bristled with high points; "Honky Tonk Heroes" and "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal" always strike the ear with irresistible effect, but it was Shaver's own dignity and perseverance that impressed above all. (Jonny Whiteside)
"Hey, baby!" That's how Teddy Edwards, saxman for the ages, always answered the phone, no matter who you were. He sounded about 20, and had more energy than most people half his age. He would ramble on about his current projects and gigs (of which he had plenty), laughing, wheedling and milking every drop of life. Or he would tell you anything you wanted to know about the past, tapping a memory that was nothing less than phenomenal. Though he was serious about his saxophone expression, feeling that art deeply experienced and rigorously practiced could change the world, his sound was open and easy — the listener needed to do nothing but soak up the vinegar tang of his blues, float on his waves of bop inspiration or cry along with his ballads. Born in Mississippi, Edwards belonged to the first generation of Los Angeles bebop, partnering with Howard McGhee and Dexter Gordon in the mid-'40s. He was a consummate sideman (Benny Carter, Sarah Vaughan) and a leader of small and large ensembles, playing both standards and his own compositions, and occasionally attaining a profile beyond the world of jazz, as when he teamed with Tom Waits on Waits' '80s recordings and on his own Mississippi Lad (1991). An excellent film/DVD documentary, Don McGlynn's The Legend of Teddy Edwards, arrived in 2001. Edwards looked like a playboy prince and blew like he was your best friend. He was beautiful.