This report comes from Casey Henry, a banjo player and writer living in Nashville, TN. She performed the past few years with her brother, Chris, in The Two Stringers, now disbanded.
Next Great American Band on Friday night held the first big surprise of the show. Franklin Bridge, the band that judge Sheila E. had predicted would win the contest, got voted off. The judges were shocked; I was shocked. But in my heart of hearts I was glad because it meant that both Cliff Wagner and the Old #7 and the Clark Brothers made it through to play another night.
Cliff chose the Lieber and Stoller song Poison Ivy to sing and adapted it very well. Cliff was back on the banjo, though there was no banjo break in the song. He looked quite dapper in a suit with an ascot. In the pre-song clip about the group we learned that Cliff does everything from booking to promotion to writing the songs for the band. If the band was a kingdom, one of the guys said, "Cliff would be the emperor."
The Clark Brothers chose Lieber and Stoller’s Saved, and delivered an absolutely amazing performance. Ashley sang the fire out of it with a truly passionate lead vocal; Austin wailed on the dobro, and Adam pounded out the rhythm on the guitar. The judges were practically beside themselves with praise. John Rzeznik said, "I’m questioning everything now‚Ä¶" meaning, I believe, that before he thought a drummer necessary to a rockin’ performance. Shelia deemed it "Magnifico," and the dour Dicko said, "Even a wretch like me feels closer to salvation" after hearing that song.
Next week bands tackle a Rolling Stones cover. As I said last time, the competition is truly fierce now and it all depends on the stamina of Appalachian-America’s thumbs (dialing those phones) to determine if our bands make it through another round.
Unfortunately last week’s performances are not up on the show’s site, but you can still see songs from weeks 1, 2, and 3.