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Review: Pat Webb Tribute at Radio Radio

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Pat Webb Tribute
Radio Radio, May 14

Wouldn't it be nice if, when you reached the ripe old age of 80, your friends got together, held a big concert in your honor and gave you the proceeds to help you get by? Well, that's exactly what friends organized for Hoosier folk guitar legend Pat Webb on Saturday night. The musical lineup featured country and blues acts Stockwell Road; 78 RPM; The Strugglers; Pat Webb's son, Chris and of course, the man himself, Pat Webb.

Stockwell Road started off the night playing what founder Will Stockwell calls "roadhouse honky-tonk," which he says has a lot of Bakersfield, Calif. influence. After his set, Stockwell, a long-time friend of Webb, affectionately referred to him as "the last of his breed."

What breed is that? Well, Stockwell and others told stories throughout the night and explained why Webb has earned a place in music history. Webb was friends with blues legend Lightnin' Hopkins, and once hosted Bob Dylan on his couch. He had a run-in with Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian, who accompanied Webb on harp during a Greenwich Village gig in the '60s. As The Strugglers' Jack Clarke, also a long-time friend of Webb's, noted at one point: "Pat's got about a million stories...and three of them are true."

Up next was 78 RPM, with an up-beat blues set that featured strong harmonica work on classics such as "Boom Boom Boom Boom" and "Got My Mojo Workin.'" Then came the duo of Chris Webb and Sam Love, who make up part of the group Hundred Year Flood. The two sang three songs, one of them called the "Titanic Blues." With Webb on the acoustic and Love on the harmonica, they played a more free-form kind of folk blues, with Webb's sometimes Warren Zevon-like voice leading the way.

Clarke then introduced the elder Webb, telling a funny story about playing a McGovern rally with Webb in 1972 in Jackson, Ind., a town where there were "about 15 democrats, and they were all about 12 years old," he said. When Webb got up to play, he made a few jokes about his frail health and the fact that while he "doesn't play as well as he used to," he still "knows how to fake stuff." Webb played a few songs with his son and then called on his friend and recording partner, Allen Stratyner, to play the harp, all the while cracking wise and lavishing praise on his son's musical abilities.

The Strugglers wrapped up the night by playing a set of blues-based alt-country. The six-part ensemble had a lush sound at times, led by the smoky, Van Morrison-esque vocals of Stanley Smith, who took up the clarinet at one point. It was a reunion of sorts for the band, which formed in Broad Ripple in 1970, officially broke up in 1985 and has since re-united for special occasions.

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