Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 31, 2010

Ricky Nelson Remembered

Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield,MA
July 30, 2010
by Eric Sutter

The identical twin sons of teenage rock n' roll idol Ricky Nelson replicated that charismatic thing the "Irrepressible Ricky" had in his day. Interspersed with video clips of nostalgia and family photos from the "Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett" television show, the Nelsons excited the audience. Early hits, "Stood Up," "Poor Little Fool" and Ricky's first hit "I'm Walkin'" created a magical journey into the past and the collective hearts and minds of an aging baby boomer audience.

The film clip of Ricky Nelson with Elvis caused a stir as the boys cut into "Milk Cow Blues" with drummer Brian Burwell beating the blues on the uptempo Elvis cover. It was obvious he could cut loose on harder edged music. This tribute started March 4th in L.A. to one of the most cherished and beloved artists of all time. It is a multi-media rock n' roll extravaganza touring the world in memory of Ricky Nelson, who died in a plane crash death 25 years ago. The adventure zigzagged through "Believe What You Say" and "It's Late" with exquisite vocal harmonies and fluid guitar solos. Gunnar Nelson led "Lonesome Town" with some fine lead vocals. Both the Rick Nelson penned "Easy To Be Free" and Nelson Brothers 1990 hit "After The Rain" featured soaring but smooth brother harmonies which closed the first half.

They returned with the big hit "Travelin' Man," accompanied by a video clip of the original. "Hello Mary Lou" was a haunted hit sing-along. A devil-may-care style was exhibited with "I've Got A Feeling" which rocked with attitude and a good back beat. This was early rock with powerful vocals and a flashy guitar solo. The film clip from 1971 was effective in setting the appropriate tone for another sing-along -- the country-rock comeback hit "Garden Party." The final film clip of various family memories followed with Matthew Nelson speaking about the importance of family and friends. The closer about the memory of their dad was sung in intimate sibling harmony interplayed with gentle strummed acoustic guitars which conveyed these tender feelings on "Just Once More" about trading everything to see him again.