Here is a capsule review of the CD release party for Fat Opie’s “Victoryville,” which took place at Amnesia in San Francisco. Mana Maddy and her band opened the show and I was intrigued by her original music, which I hope to review elsewhere, followed by Kofy Brown and her band, whose energy and raw power rocked the house. But I came to talk about Fat Opie (Scott Mickelson: songwriter, vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, electric banjo. Robin Hildebrant: bass, backup vocals. Dave Tavel: drums. Reem Regina Tatar did backup vocals throughout, and Christian L. Behrens, trombonist with Roem Baur’s band, played with the band on a new song called “Flickering.”)
This show was one of the highlights of the year for our music community. It is one thing that “Victoryville” is as important an album as it is, setting new directions for what is called “Americana,” but really for all popular music, and it is quite another that the performance of these songs was as burningly alive as it was! There were two marker moments: First, the song “Victoryville” seemed to have all the deep passion and energy that Scott MIckelson and the band had in them, augmented by the strong and palpably connected contributions of foundational music community members Tom Rhodes and Alex Jimenez, in their playing and in their backup harmony vocals, which were chill-down-the-spine-inducing, especially at the end of the song. And second, there was Jay Trainer’s incendiary, from-the-bottom-of-the-heart solo on “Monster In The Room” that melted the walls of the club and pressed the point that Jay had superior music to inspire his supercharged playing. This is clearly Fat Opie’s time, musical moments nineteen years in the making, and with this as the current result, worth every nanosecond of that time!