November 16, 2013
Some of rock’s most indelible moments are the work of sidemen and session players, most of whom stay in the shadows, some of whom go on to achieve fame of their own. Over the past 14 years at The Joint, you could wander in from a unremarkable stretch of Pico Boulevard on the occasional Monday night and catch some of these unsung heroes, joined by rock royalty – Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Eric Burdon or Joe Walsh, to name a few. What draws them is the opportunity to sit in with a house band made up of some of the best session musicians and touring sidemen around. And for $10/head, you know they ain’t in it for the money.
The band, headed up by revered axeman and producer Waddy Wachtel, includes longtime Rolling Stones backup vocalist Bernard Fowler, ex-Tom Petty drummer Phil Jones, Fleetwood Mac, David Lee Roth and Coverdale-Page keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Brett Tuggle, and Neil Young and Joe Walsh alum Rick “the bass player” Rosas. Now, I’ve caught my share of these gigs over the years (without the special guests) and never failed to have a blast. Wachtel’s credits are a veritable who’s who through the 70s and 80s and a road well traveled that still finds him ripping it up at The Joint. This is a cover-centric and barroom right party delivered by some of the best in the business.
Filmmaker Gary Simson is telling this story in his documentary King of the Sidemen, truly a labor of love project. Simson asked me to come out a few weeks back and grab some stills as he was gathering more live footage for his Kickstarter project.
I was fortunate to catch rising roots rocker Lukas Nelson sitting in. Aside from the Willie family legacy, Nelson’s Wiki page cites Neil Young and Hendrix as main influences and he’s no stranger to the jam band scene having appeared with Furthur, among others. Nelson and Wachtel tangled for a rousing “Further On Up the Road” and Nelson kept it burning for “Hoochie Coochie Man” and Rockin’ in the Free World” in the second set (I wasn’t around for that, but it had to be good). The usual suspects were also joined by Mindy Abair on sax, Blondie Chaplin (Beach Boys) on guitar and vocals, Keith Allison (Paul Revere and the Raiders) on guitar and vocals, Ron Dziubla on sax and Jamie Savko on vocals. Abair added some great sparks to the posse of dudes on stage, and brought the chops to match. Nice stage chemistry.
Suffice to say, you should drop by The Joint, throw down your $10 and a cold one (of whatever you like) and most importantly, support working musicians who love what they do, and can’t stop themselves from doing it. That ‘s kinda what it’s all about, anyway.
To stay current with the King of the Sidemen film project, point yourself to their Facebook page.