Little Feat's Paul Barrere
Little FeatSept. 20, Clinton Presidential Library Grounds
Little Feat has become the quasi house band at Cindy and Chip Murphy’s, and the group was back in the oil-company do-gooders’ back yard for Chip’s birthday shindig Sept. 19. The next night the party moved to the back lawn of the Clinton Presidential Center for a public $25 concert with a private party feel – as a few hundred fans enjoyed a tight two-hour collection of the band’s funky numbers.
Little Feat had a pretty hot run in the mid-to-late 1970s and then took a 10-year hiatus after the death of founder and driving force Lowell George. But Little Feat came back strong in 1988 and hasn’t stopped recording since. And unlike most resurrected bands, all surviving members from the band’s heyday are still on board, with guitarist Fred Tackett, a Little Rock native, a significant addition in the “new era” that now has spanned 20 years.
For those of us right up front, it felt just like being invited to the Murphys’. The beer table was almost at arm’s length, and at $3 a pop the Diamond Bear was a bargain. A nice breeze off the river kept things cool.
Guitarist-singer Paul Barrere had begun assuming control of the band as George faded and ultimately died, and he supplied continuity on songs like “Time Loves a Hero” and “Fat Man in the Bathtub.” Little Feat has become more of a “jam band” over the years, which works well for them, but the famed “Dixie Chicken” seemed an odd choice to showcase long solos. That’s one song that didn’t deserve multiple momentum derailments.
“Willin’” got an extended audience sing-along treatment, and “The Weight” and “Get Up, Stand Up” were inspired choices for cover songs. As all shows should, but few do, the concert ended with its hottest song – “Let It Roll,” the title cut of the 1988 reunion album, a prime showcase for the band’s upbeat, rollicking style and Barrere’s underrated guitar abilities.