The Roper Show
~ by Fred Middleton-
Jesse Roper rocks.
He started his solo acoustic set with a made-up-on-the-spot song about the Olympics in which the Canadians won every event and the Americans won none â€¦ immediately engaging. Then came the Stevie Ray Vaughan covers. I didnâ€™t miss Stevie or the rest of his bandâ€”Jesse was holding things down just fine.
It didnâ€™t take long to realize J.R. was born to the stage. His innate, and most expressive, body language and facial expressions added even more positive energy to his syncopated speed-strumming, his remarkable leads and his powerfully pleasing vocals. To boot, he appears humble, unaffected and totally down to earth.
Shortly after explaining that his constant tuning was due to having just put on new strings, one broke. While he was changing it, he threatened the crowd with a dirty joke but, before he could get it out, another one came to mind: “Whatâ€™s worse than ants in your pants? â€¦ uncles” â€¦ and we were back in business.
J.R.â€™s songs were quite varied, and even his more standard 12-bar blues tunes had a uniqueness about them. At times he alternated between flat picking and finger picking, saying later that, thanks to his dad, he came to appreciate Lester Flatt. Weâ€™re glad you did, Jesse.
Several (howâ€™s-one-guy-producing-that-beautiful-sound) cover songs later, Jesse asked the house what kind of song theyâ€™d like (fast, slow, medium, original, cover?). The answer came back; original, medium. And thatâ€™s what we got â€¦ plus an acknowledgment of audience member Leif Erickson, who had been talking to Jesse earlier. The excellent original ended with â€¦ “to be continued”.
Another very well received song about some of the professionals Jesse knewâ€”professionals at drinkingâ€”came next. Then another question: â€śWanna hear a shameless song about sex?â€ť It was called Gonna Buy Me a Sex Swing, dedicated to Leifâ€”â€śThis oneâ€™s for youâ€ťâ€”and containing a line about an edible thong. Jesse assured the audience that this exceedingly entertaining song would â€śbe on the next album â€¦ right at the end.â€ť
My apologies to readers and musicians; multitasking is not my forte. I failed to do my homework and do not have Mattâ€™s last name nor adequate info on Matt, Steve … or Jesse, for that matter.
The next two sets received the full Roper Show treatment, as JesseÂ switched to electric guitar and was joined by amazing bassist Matt and outstanding drummer (heâ€™s big, heâ€™s loud, heâ€™s here) Steve Ling. This powerhouse trio performed all original material, garnering explosive Malcolm Island applause and filling the dance floor with every song.
In fact, possibly inspired by the interaction with Jesse, the gotta-move music and the offer-he-couldnâ€™t-refuse from Ivana MacDougall, Leif took to dancing at least twice. He told me Sunday that his hip was paying the price, but I got the feeling it was worth it. Good on ya’, Leif.
While weâ€™re talking dancing:Â it was a fantastic night of letting loose on the floor and, at times, in the aisles. A most pleasing addition to all the local inspired, creative dancers was Willow, Jesseâ€™s partner. Lovely name, lovely smile, lovely conversation, and mighty fine dancing. Cheers, Willow.
The Roper Show deserves more time than I have left before this weekâ€™s deadline. Steve, Matt and Jesse are multi-talented professionals I hope to experience again. I expect the wonderfully supportive crowd of 40+ would concur.
We took home a CD, The Roper Show, played it, loved it. On the back, along with the eight superb songs listed, is a photo of (I assume) Jesse, at about four or five, with his hands positioned appropriately on the adult-sized guitar hanging over his shoulder, wearing sunglasses. On the front is Jesse, now-ish, rockinâ€™ out for real. On the inside, the final thank you is as follows: Last and most important: I would like to thank my parents. My two biggest fans! While most kids are being told to go back to school and get a real job, mine encouraged me to ditch that, hit the road and get famous! More kids need parents like you two. Thank you so much for all your support throughout the years. I intend to make you proud â€¦.
I like this guy.
The Tri-Port Music Festival
Unlike the first year, the weather cooperated this time, and the 200+ people in attendance looked and sounded very happy to be there. Hopefully that number increased throughout the day so this fine, fledgling festival will continue.
Organizer and sound equipment provider Dave Stevenson et al did a tremendous job -Â great venue, excellent sound and top-notch entertainment.
We arrived in time to enjoy the first act, musicians/comedians Kenny Shaw and â€¦â€¦â€¦ (I hope this is moderately funny, rather than annoying, as I seemed to have misplaced my info sheet). Kenny also did a great job of co-emceeing between subsequent acts.
Among the acts we caught before heading for the 4:05pm ferry were (this is embarrassing) a tight (nameless) blues band from Victoria that boasted spot-on drumming, superior bass playing, a stinging slide guitarist and lead vocalist with a voice like Tom Waitsâ€™ brother, and a name familiar to many of you, Andre Kaufman. Andre played great rhythm and incredible leads on both guitar and tenor sax.
The band playing as we left was Ten Souljers; tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, lead male singer, two female back-up (and lead) singers (who sported matching dresses and matching moves), guitarist, keyboardist, killer bass player Matt â€¦â€¦â€¦ and super-drummer Steve Ling.
Iâ€™m easily confused. I wondered if Ten Souljers had forgotten their drummer and bass man until Jesse told me that Matt and Steve do indeed play with Ten Souljers (and other bands) on a regular basis. They play with him on occasion when heâ€™s not doing his one-man show.
Ten Souljers played some most invigorating covers: Powder Blues, Stevie Wonder, Blues Brothers, along with some extra-funky stuff â€¦ great set-list.
Time didnâ€™t allow a second sighting of The Roper Show, which Steph and I both found disappointing even though weâ€™d just seen them. Theyâ€™re that good.
Provided organizer Dave (Centerpiece Productions) and friends made it through the financial strain of mounting a young festival, I highly recommend checking it out next year. It will only get bigger, better â€¦ and itâ€™s already a beautiful thing â€¦ right here on the North Island.
Up next: Friday, August 10th 8:30pm @ The Whaleâ€™s Rub, Beyond the 10th with David Essig, blues, classic rock. Prepare to dance
On deck: Sunday afternoon, August 19th 2:30pm @ The Whaleâ€™s Rub, Geo, brilliant guitarist/performer/songwriter from Ladysmith and elsewhere, fiery gypsy flamenco, soft Latin ballads and beautiful classics. He may even bring his five-string violin.