Still the Best

It was the day after Christmas and I was at the Foundry for Randall Bramblett’s annual Christmas show. I’d explored the place when I got there and found Slim Jim, Godfrey, and Mr. Clown all with tables on the floor. Mr. Clown even had room for me, but I didn’t want to sit in the middle of the crowd of dancers and drifters on the floor.

My knee was still giving me considerable pain and I needed to be where I could keep it stretched out as much as possible without people tripping over it.

I found the Superstar and his lady sitting at the first table out on the patio just outside the doors and sat down to say hello. I was skeptical, but he said that we’d be able to hear well and I had a clear view of the center of the stage, where Randall’s piano was facing the audience so I made myself comfortable.

The music started and my surprise was twofold. First I was shocked that my view of center stage and Randall remained unobstructed and secondly I was surprised that as the Superstar promised the sound was just fine.

What didn’t surprise me was how great the band was. Randall’s band is always great and this was the “big” band with two horns in addition to Bramblett’s sax and piano, two guitars and plenty of percussion and drums. This also means plenty of  Randall’s sax playing which is when I love his music the best.

There were two songs off of his first album ( 1975’s That Other Mile) mixed with his vast catalogue of music since with the emphasis on his latest CD (Devil Music) which was released this past fall. Not a throwaway in the bunch.

Just as I was getting into a good groove with the music, a young lady came bopping past me and stopped on the far left of the double doorway. My view of Randall was still open, but she seemed to be taking roost and could a boyfriend be far behind?

I decided to take preventive action to protect my view and slid my chair into the doorway on her right side.

She was really into the music. When the next song ended she leaned a little bit towards me and asked “how long have you been listening to Randall Bramblett?”

“Since about 1967 or ’68 how about you?” I answered above the din of the crowd and she replied “this is my first time, has he always been this good?”

I grinned as another song started and she turned her attention back to the stage.

As I listened to Randall soar on his sax I thought back over the years. King David and the Slaves for special high school dances. Mad Dog Melton and the Laughing Disaster inventing the downtown Athens music scene at Your Mother’s Mustache and Between the Hedges in Normaltown. The Goosecreek Symphony at Legion Field. Cowboy at the Great Southeast Music Hall. The Gregg Allman Band at the Fox. Sea Level in what I believe was the first concert in the Georgia Theater (Joe Barnes opened). Playing with Steve Winwood at Chastain. Joining Bonnie Raitt and Widespread Panic on stage at the Classic Center. The different forms that The Randall Bramblett Band has taken over the years (always with Davis Causey on guitar) at the Last Resort or Tyrone’s, or the Georgia Theater and now the Foundry.

The song ended and the band started offstage to take a break. As the 23 year old turned to head back to her table I stood up and stopped her.

“Randall Bramblett’s been the best musician in Athens for over 45 years’ I told her. She looked at me and smiled “I believe it” she answered before disappearing into the crowd.

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