Written by Dave Clements

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to listen to a band with my wife and dear friends that I didn’t think sounded like I thought they should/would. I had these expectations given their long history as a reputable international touring act with quality records over several decades.

molly hatchet-74Through a series of extremely unusual events I ended up talking with the band about my experience and, I might add, in a non-confrontational and very professional way. It sure seemed to this reviewer that the band was open to my reaction and feedback. Of course they were disappointed to hear it yet they were very willing to discuss it constructively. Impressive behavior for which I give these guys a lot of credit.  I believe most others would have just blown me off.

As a result of our interactions my wife and I were invited to the recent Houston show as their guests to ‘have another listen’ with the hope that we would hear something more in line with our original expectations.

As it turned out Molly Hatchet and Eddie Money were both performing ahead of headliner Mr. Hank Williams Jr at Sam Houston Race Park on this Saturday night at a benefit, the 7th Annual CCA Concert for Conservation.

We arrived there just as Justify was about to take the second leg of the Triple Crown in Baltimore under damp and foggy conditions. Thank goodness that wasn’t the weather there. To the contrary it was a beautiful breazy evening we were happy to be there, albeit still apprehensive that we might have a repeat experience with the Molly Hatchet performance.

Not a chance! The guy on the board this night knew what he was doing versus the guy who managed the board earlier this year and created this uncomfortable and unexpected experience.

MH came out on time and kicked some R&R butt. Bobby Ingram on lead guitar is the consummate professional and knows how to make his guitar sing.  For one solid hard-hitting hour he and his band mates kept us thoroughly entertained.  There was a great blend of Hatchet tunes and considerable focus on patriotism and our armed forces. Good things to focus on in my estimation.

Everything I heard I liked a lot with one small exception, if I may? After about 20-30 HELL YEAH’s by lead singer Phil McCormack I had reached my capacity and was ready for him to move on to some other shout outs and/or questions for the audience.  I wish he had thrown in some ‘What’s up Houston?’ and a few ‘How’re you doing out there?’ and a  couple of ‘Are you ready to Rock & Roll?’ and maybe even a moment of silence for the kids and families in Santa Fe. But that’s just my humble opinion.

eddie money-31Eddie Money was next up and it turned out to be quite a ‘family affair’ as his son was on drums, his daughter on back- up vocals, and his uncle and aunt in the audience. I have always been a big fan of Eddie’s songs and I just like his raspy voice. On stage he is a fun and giving performer…his voice so distinctive and at the age of 69 no signs of failing. To the contrary he was very vocal this night and, on top of that very tuned in to the Astros and Rockets. It was kind of fun to hear this enthusiasm from someone with such a New York accent. Eddie also played for an hour, minus his ‘chat time’ but was able to get in several of my favorites including Take Me Home Tonight and Two Tickets to Paradise.

One more Eddie Money comment: After his show he was out at the merch table signing autographs for his fans that were supporting his charity. I took the opportunity to go over and thank him for supporting not only his charities but mine. He had agreed to be in my book Raising A Hand a few years earlier and this was my first opportunity since it was published to share a copy with him. The guy is a straight up class act…even if he is from New York!  (Just kidding!)

The headliner for the evening was none other than Bocephus himself, aka Hank Williams Jr. Bocephus was a nickname that Hank Sr gave his son because he thought he looked like a TV ventriloquist’s dummy with the same name.

I prefer Hank Jr and it was so good to finally see him entertain with his band live at this venue.

hank jr-79I’ve known his songs like just about everyone in America but never really had the chance to enjoy him on stage. He doesn’t perform much these days as I understand it and it was a rare appearance here in Houston for this ICON. And if you don’t think he is one check out his ball cap in the photo gallery. He wore several hats during the show, this was his first.

In closing all I can add is that I enjoyed the evening very much. However, I am clueless what the thinking was to have Molly Hatchet, Eddie Money and Hank Williams Jr on the same bill.  What was the common denominator, the common thread, the connection that lead to this choice?  Diversity, for sure.  That’s all I could come up with.  And it worked for me!

Until next time remember to support live music while we have the opportunity or we may blink and we will find it gone.