Amazingly, despite the collapse of the record industry and the feeling that all the rules have been thrown out the window, rock and roll can still happen just the way it always did. I saw the UK power trio Back Door Slam a few months ago at the insistence of their publicist. Three young white guys -- 20 to 21 years old -- who play the blues a la Cream and Jimi Hendrix with a lead singer who looks 17 and sounds like a weathered bluesman (he has a terrific voice) and plays like a flashy guitar god. In other words, they were terrific. The space had maybe 25 people in it at the most, including a grey-haired lady who stood near the front who was either one of their moms or just a hardcore older fan.
When they returned, I invited a bunch of friends to the show, something I've never really done -- but with a $10 admission and convenient early showtime, it made sense. To my shock, eight people joined me and I suddenly felt the weight of responsibility. Would all these different people like the band? Mercury Lounge was much more crowded this night. I don't think any of the four other acts were the draw, but who knows? I'd like to think it was word of mouth. The first time I showed up in a party of two; this time I showed up with a party of eight. The room was filled about twice as much, the band exploded again and was sensational and everyone with me really liked it. Suddenly, I was going to be emailing them when the band returned in January. Maybe I'll bring a party of 16 that time? But the main storyline is as old as rock: you tour, wow the fans and keep returning to a town again and again and every time you play to bigger crowds and win more fans. It still works! By the way, their debut CD is okay but doesn't begin to capture the power of the band live. Check them out if you can.