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Little Feat Triumphantly Marches into Nashville for Two Big Nights of Song and Celebration

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Little Feat triumphantly marched into the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee for a two night engagement in celebration of Waiting For Columbus. That album first came out in 1978 and has been released in other configurations over the years. Both Ryman shows were recorded for possible future distribution so that all will be able to join in on the party.

The new Little Feat were as good as a comfortable pair of shoes in Nashville.

Each night featured special guests. On March 16, 2022 Tommy Emmanuel, Nicki Bluhm, John Cowan, Jamey Johnson and Marcus King joined Little Feat. On the 17th, fans were lucky enough to see Eric Church, Jeff Hanna, John "JoJo" Hermann, Connor Kennedy, Bettye LaVette and Amy Helm. Talk about March Madness!

The legendary Little Feat was formed in 1969 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Lowell George and keyboardist Bill Payne. They were based out of Los Angeles, California yet their eclectic sound was and is a blend of blues, boogie, jam, jazz and rock that could have come out of New Orleans. Over the years, the band has been through a number of member changes but has remained consistent when it comes to flavorful live performances.

The core four of the Feat were up to the task of upholding their legacy at the Ryman.

One of Little Feat's most popular albums is Waiting For Columbus which featured the "classic" lineup performing four shows in London and then three in Washington, D.C. It came out as a live record in 1978. Backed by the Tower of Power horn section, many say that Little Feat captured sonic gold on expansive versions of "Fat Man in the Bathtub," "Spanish Moon," "Dixie Chicken", "Sailin' Shoes," and "Feats Don't Fail Me Now," as well as the iconic truck driver's lament, "Willin'".

Little Feat is scheduled to be on tour for much of 2022 in celebration of the 45th Anniversary of that pivotal platter. Today, they remain represented by their strong core four of Bill Payne (keyboards, vocals), Kenny Gradney (bass), Sam Clayton (percussion and vocals) and Fred Tackett (guitars and vocals).

A night filled with amazing guests helped make this a special show one to remember.

The recent acquisition of Scott Sharrard (guitars and vocals) - the long time musical director of the Gregg Allman Band - allowed the Feat to fill the incredibly large shoes left behind by the passing of Paul Barrere while often sounding vocally similar to their long gone founder George. Tony Leone (drums) came over from Ollabelle and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and the line-up that Bill Payne now calls the "third act" was complete.

To re-introduce the group to the world the guys relied on Sharrard's youth and technical prowess to direct the obligatory pandemic style "zoom" live video as they sent a socially distanced missive with a remake of their "Long Distance Love" with support from Amy Helm on vocals. The film clip clearly demonstrated that the two new guys were definitely a good fit for the Feat and it also helped give everyone the confidence to take the show back on the road.

For much of the night fans were on their feet enjoying the good grooves. The band were backed by a horn section and vocalists all packing plenty of punch to fan favorites such "Fat Man in the Bathtub" followed by "All That You Dream" both with Charlie Starr. Guitar great Tommy Emmanuel added his animated acoustic accents to "Dixie Chicken" and "Tripe Face Boogie". Jamey Johnson sang the woeful tale of "Willin".

Scott Sharrard (right) and Tony Leone (bottom left) were joined by many guests in Nash.

Taking a detour from Columbus Little Feat jammed on "Don't Bogart Me" (The Fraternity of Man cover) and "A Apolitical Blues / Long Distance Call / A Apolitical Blues". Back on track with "Sailin' Shoes" followed by a feisty "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" with young gun Marcus King who had a big smile on his face as he soared on guitar. The encore featured Amy Helm up-front with Scott singing "Long Distant Love" followed by a lively "Let It Roll" with Marcus King to end the night on high.

Some say that Little Feat is very possibly the last-man-standing example of what used to be the norm in American music, a fusion of a broad span of styles and genres into something utterly distinctive. They marched into the Ryman to serve up a flavorful gumbo of blues, country, jazz, swamp and rock at a party that had fans on their feet in celebration of live music past and present.

The group offered a new version of "Long Distance Love" to introduce their revamped lineup.

Opening for Little Feat was Ida Mae a husband and wife duo (Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean) who presented a fine set of acoustic music. There first album was well received and lead to them touring the U.S. with the likes of Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, Marcus King and Greta Van Fleet. At the Ryman, both sang and added percussion while Chris strummed a guitar. Between songs they chatted with fans mentioning that they were originally from the UK but now call Nashville home. At the Ryman they showed why they are gaining traction and are well respected by their peers. As they left the revered stage Ida Mae received a standing ovation.

SETLIST: Join the Band | Fat Man in the Bathtub (with Charlie Starr) | All That You Dream (with Charlie Starr) | Oh Atlanta | Old Folks Boogie | Time Loves a Hero | Day or Night | Mercenary Territory | Spanish Moon | Dixie Chicken (with Tommy Emmanuel) | Tripe Face Boogie (with Tommy Emmanuel) | Rocket in My Pocket | Willin' (with Jamey Johnson) | Don't Bogart Me (The Fraternity of Man cover) | A Apolitical Blues > Long Distance Call > A Apolitical Blues | Sailin' Shoes (with Jeff Hanna) | Feats Don't Fail Me Now (with Marcus King) | Encore: | Long Distance Love (with Amy Helm) | Let It Roll (with Marcus King)

Ida Mae opened the show and the expecting married couple received a standing ovation for the effort.

Related Links: For more information on LITTLE FEAT and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Little Feat | Ida Mae | Ryman Auditorium


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