July 27, 2015

Rusty Wright Band Rocks Ontonagon Theater

What has 7 good legs and still rocks?  Rusty may have bunged his knee up, but even sitting on a stool to ease the pain couldn’t keep Rusty and the whole Rusty Wright Band from rocking the Ontonagon Theater of  Performing Arts on Sunday night July 26, 2015.  Coming at the end of a busy All School Reunion weekend that featured live music all over town on Friday and Saturday nights (and the Ontonagon County Fair), there was still a good crowd.  The band had played in Marquette, MI Friday night, Solon Springs, WI Saturday night (that made for a 240 mile commute between Friday night and Saturday night, 120 miles between Saturday night and Sunday night – and a change from EST to CST and back to EST) (whew) and they still had enough energy to thrill the Ontonagon crowd on Sunday night.

I saw Harold S. Riter from the Ontonagon Herald was on hand to review the show so I won’t be doing a full write up – It took a little air conditioned car ride and a bottle of Coke to get my head to stop spinning.  Going from the nicely air conditioned theater back into the sweatbox outside pretty well sapped what energy I had left at the end of this very long weekend!   So here are a few take aways from tonight’s show:

> They did great live versions of the Wonder Man tracks  Ain’t that the Blues, Black Hat Boogie, You Know I Know, and Corvette Sunday.  I was kind of hoping to hear Love’s Gonna Treat You Right, but that is how it goes when you have a large catalog of great tunes to choose from.

> The road stories were priceless – I am not sure I will ever trust a GPS if I am in Chicago!  Laurie and Rusty have a great stage presence and their personalities sparkle when they start telling stories.

> It was great to see Laurie and Dennis feeling well – the last trip here both were battling bugs.  Tonight Laurie was in fine voice and Dennis played over the top, particularly his solo spots.

> Marc Friedman is a rhythm machine.  I didn’t get to ask him what happened to his ‘erector set’ drum stand – maybe it was not as easy to transport?  Will need to get some specs on his new set.  Also found some interesting video of him playing with the Woodstock tribute band The Magic Bus.  So many questions to ask him and so little time!

> I also haven’t gotten the story on keyboard player Robert John Manzitti – he was here in March of 2014 and is credited on Wonder Man but is no longer listed on the bands web site or in the press kit .  Will need to get more info.

> The rest of the set was some what fluid – Rusty and Laurie did a few conferences and Rusty mentioned that they were kind of going off script here and there.  Alarm Clock Blues still rocks.  I didn’t record a set list, but they dug deep into their album collection from Summertime to Coco Taylor to Albert King and some of their own favorites as well.

> Our buddy David Avery at Powderfinger Productions says the playing on the stool thing must work – he saw Dave Grohl similarly laid up with a broken leg and yet the Foo Fighters rocked it!

> The show started a little late but for a good reason – Theater Board founding member Carol Reid was presented with the Reiger award for outstanding service to the theater.  She participated in the presentation by phone from Arizona where she has been battling health issues.  The current Theater Board paid tribute to her and she said she will be back in town with her husband John very soon.  It was a very moving tribute to a spunky lady who has done so much for the theater.

> Cheryl Sundberg invited my wife and I down to Roxey’s for the after show dinner (the band missed eating before the show due to a time zone issue (it happens here on the border of EST and CST)) but frankly Scarlet, we went home to feed the cat and melted into a couple of puddles on the couch.  Pretty sure the band was worn out by then also, so we will have to take her up on her offer on the next trip through town – and we are certainly hoping that there will be a next trip through town.  RWB loves Ontonagon and Ontonagon returns the love!

Great to see you again, Rusty, Laurie, Dennis, and Mark.  Come back soon!