- Gerard Matthews
- Danny Barnes played Juanita’s Tuesday night.
After learning earlier on Tuesday that Levon Helm is “in the final stages of his battle with cancer,” I was so saddened that I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to go out to the show. After some consideration, I thought some good music and the company of some good friends might be just the thing to deal with these blues and besides, Levon never seemed to be much for that mopey crap anyway. So with my heavy heart I made my way on down to Juanita’s.
Tony Furtado opened up the first set with the traditional song “False Hearted Lovers Blues.” I don’t know if it was by design or by providence, but this was also the opening song on Levon’s Grammy-winning 2007 album “Dirt Farmer.” This was just the reassurance that I needed to know that I was indeed in the right place doing the right thing. Furtado played a couple more songs solo, impressing the crowd with his bottleneck slide work. He was then joined by Danny Barnes, along with his trusty Bishline Banjo, an orange Mac laptop and a myriad of effects and looping pedals. They launched into the folk/blues standard “Stagger Lee.”
Furtado did acknowledge some of the greats that had recorded the song including Taj Mahal and Mississippi John Hurt. I have those records and I don’t recall them using looping or effects but Furtado and Barnes made it sound so good. Think of a couple of hot shot chefs taking a classic Southern dish like chicken fried steak, making it with Kobe beef and drizzling it with truffle oil. Barnes then played a few songs on his own, sticking mainly to his previous two albums “Rocket” and “Pizza Box.” These included “Caveman,” “Pizza Box” and “Wine.” Furtado returned to the stage and talked about his first trip to Little Rock several years ago, crediting a lady named Peggy Adams. He cited her as an inspiration for his next song “Angels We Know.” Judging from the crowd response, many of Peggy’s friends were in attendance.