Chuck Leavell at Cherry last night

Despite the cancellation of The Rolling Stones Hanging Rock concert, a little bit of Stones magic could still be found last night at Melbourne’s iconic Cherry Bar. Longtime Rolling Stones keyboard player, Chuck Leavell performed to 200 excited, lucky punters in a thoroughly entertaining Q&A and solo piano set. Host for the evening, Triple R’s Brian Wise ran Chuck through his musical highlights as he spoke about, then played tracks from the relevant periods of his illustrious career. Chuck eloquently told of his early musical influences and played some blues classics before turning the topic to his days with the Alllman Brothers band and playing their legendary song Statesboro Blues. A few tunes in, Leavell was joined on stage by Rolling Stones sax player Tim Ries and the excitement level crept a  notch higher. Who else might show up?

Leavell and Wise continued to dissect a celebrated career including Leavell’s stint with Eric Clapton, which induced the song Alberta, Alberta from Clapton’s Unplugged album. Discussion of a tour with George Harrison brought on ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and then one of the night’s highlights, the track Savannah from Chuck’s solo album Southscape, featuring some breathtaking sax tones from Ries. Leavell is also a committed conservationist and touched on his work in that area including his new website  the Mother Nature Network, which offers a non-political view on the subject.

cherryqueueOf course Leavell wouldn’t have left the club alive if he didn’t play some Stones tracks. Hony Tonk Woman and Rip This Joint gave rise to a rousing Cherry Bar singalong. Leavell had brought his touch of gentlemanly Southern hospitality along to the Cherry and the musically educated crowd had shown much appreciation. Chuck came back one last time to nail his signature tune Jessica, an Allman Brothers classic he had made a significant contribution to. There’s nothing like having the Rolling Stones in your town to create a buzz … having two band members confined within the walls of a small rock ‘n’ roll club is extra special. Congratulation to Cherry’s James Young for making the show happen and continuing to keep alive the great stories, myths, legends, dreams, legacy and excitement of rock ‘n’ roll.

Mention also must be made of the night’s support act, Chris Wilson, our own national blues treasure. Wilson’s powerful voice, extraordinary harp skills and laconic tales never fail to entertain.

Australian Musician will catch up Chuck Leavell this weekend and bring you another one on one interview very soon.

Mother Nature Network
Chuck Leavell’s site
Cherry Bar


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