In the early ’70’s, Eric Burdon and War came to the Rogue Valley. At the time Robert was the afternoon disc jockey for KBOY-AM radio (730 on the dial back then) and had the pleasure of interviewing them (Eric was kind enough to sign Robert’s copy of “The Twain Shall Meet”). Now, forty years later and back with the Animals, Eric Burdon will be playing at Britt Music Festival in Jacksonville. Even though the weather doesn’t look like it plans to cooperate, we will not abandon our center stage third blanket back, tickets. Rain or shine, The Animals will prowl Friday night!
Don’t touch that dial! Stay tuned!
Concert night, June 17th. We headed to Jacksonville, home to Britt Music Festival, early and went to the Jacksonville Inn for appetizers and drinks, then met Robert’s brother, Doug and his wife, Faith for dinner at Las Palmas. Around 6:30, after an enjoyable dinner with family, we headed to the Britt grounds for the concert.
The concert was everything we expected and more. Having The Weight as the warmup band was a trip. With the drummer and lead guitarist from The Band, they was a perfect opener for The Animals. And the weather somewhat cooperated with some small sprinkles. Members of The Weight (as did Burdon later) thought the audience were real troopers until someone pointed out this is Oregon and if you don’t like rain (what little we get in the valley), then perhaps one should move south.
And the Animals WERE on the prowl. Of course, these Animals are not anything like the original group. They are a group of young musicians that probably weren’t even born when the original EB&A come out. But that didn’t stop them from doing a hell of a job behind the man everyone came to see: Eric Burdon.
At 75, Burdon still has the voice and the presence. Nothing has change except that now, he looks a little like an older, graying gnome. But the voice! Like Robert Plant, Burdon’s voice has taken on a maturity that leaves you wanting more. And more is what he gave us!
Songs from across Burdon’s career and tributes to folks like Leadbelly and an incredible arrangement of Davie Bowie’s Major Tom fused with Sky Pilot fired the night. These “new” Animals are some great, well established musicians! Dustin Koester on drums with an awesome bassist named Justin Andres provided the beat; Johnzo West’s guitar playing and Davey Allen piano work reflects years of experience; and the horn section with Ruben Salinas on sax and Evan Mackey on trombone provided, besides the outstanding backing, the entertainment with their “dance” routines and stoic statue stances behind Eric.
Burdon was drawn back after the set with extended applause and throat irritation (yelling) and then again after the first encore. Wow! It had been a great concert as everyone started to pack up and leave. But WAIT! Here comes Eric and the band out ON THEIR OWN! It seemed Eric wasn’t ready to quit! All that proved to Robert was: OLD FARTS RULE!
Although appreciative, the audience wasn’t not what we expected – less than the 2,200 capacity. It had been forty years since he played the valley (with War then) and, as one of the ushers said: “We probably won’t see him again.” We hope that’s not true; we hope our paths cross again.
Now here’s the weird part. We provide a short 40 second video without sound of the performance. You will notice that people are up dancing? They look like their having a great time. Fans, old and new, young and Eric’s generation, were into the music. So, they must have been dancing their butts off, right? Wrong! Now we realize that not everyone there could get on their feet, but not one person got up to dance and enjoy the music! They all sat their, obviously enjoying the music, but this is a rock and roll concert for crying out loud! not a classical symphony. Not until the encore did anyone stand up and dance and that’s what you see here.
Oh, there was ONE person who did stand and dance as soon as Burdon took the stage and stayed there for the entire concert: Robert. His philosophy: If Eric at age 75 can stand up there and sing his ass off for us, I can stand up for him to see that someone is still moved by his music and presence.