Max Creek

Stearns Square Springfield, MA

August 11 2016

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Despite only being about an hour or a little more away from my house, and one of the bigger cities in MA and New England, Springfield doesn’t seem to frequently have musical offerings that interest me.  I’ve gone down and performed at Theodore’s and seen music there, but other than that I’ve never really hung out for music in Springfield.  Imagine my surprise then that the folks at the Big E (the MA state fair essentially, one of the largest and longest running the US) decided to throw a concert series downtown.  On this random Thursday night in the summer it was Max Creek, and best of all, it was free!

I grabbed my girls (ages 14 and 11) and we headed down, had a great BBQ dinner at Theodore’s which coincidentally was around the corner from Stearns Square, and turned out for the show.  There was a pretty good crowd gathered and Max Creek started at 7:30 pretty much.  They opened with a meandering and simmering Jones and led into a straight forward rocker, Rainbow.

The first thing I noticed was that the crowd was ready to party, and there were beer sales vendors, food vendors, Wormtown vending, and plenty of brown baggers.  Mark Mercier picked up the pace with a spirited I Got My Mojo Workin which I must have heard before, but couldn’t recall, and then into another contemplative Murawski choice, Emotional Railroad.  I quickly started seeing friends and wandered what was a relatively small space despite the crowd- not a huge city park but rather an open space in the middle of downtown that was plenty large enough.

Mark Mercier lead us through the Dead’s Birdsong and drummer Bill Carbone picked up our spirits with Lovin You Is Sweeter than Ever.  Guitarist Scott Murawski must have been in some sort of mood as another thoughtful number came out, the rarely heard Cocaine Lady.  It was a treat and he sure took his time to let it unfold.  John Rider’s Blood Red Roses got the blood pumping and Mercier kept it up with Sly Stone’s Thank You (for Lettinmebe Mice Elf).  

The truly rare treat came next as percussionist Jay Stanley took the stage for his original, Down in the Jungle.  The song begins with some beautifully melodic thumb piano, and leads into some original rap (???  at a Max Creek show?) and then a great melodic song that will have you singing the chorus lines over and over again, “Into the Ocean…”  I really love the song and it’s a highlight of any show in which it is included, ironic given that Stanley is the least tenured performer in the band at the moment.  It’s a great testament to the band that they move the spotlight around among players as within a two hour show every single band member had their turn at leading the band.

One hour turned to two as Mercier continued his elated mood with Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening.  It seemed a very apt choice as we all were getting lucky that the rain showers that were threatening all night were holding off as the band’s set just kept getting longer and longer.  Murawski ended the extended set with an increasingly aggressive Helter Skelter  that just seemed to go on and on and expressed whatever angsty mood he was in fittingly and was a great capper to a truly unique show.

My girls were getting sleepy and the third time someone almost ran over my youngest who had her head on her knees while sitting and while we were way too close to the stage for that to be right.  I knew the encore was coming but sometimes duty and parenthood calls so we left while John Rider’s celebratory You’re the Only One for Me was just getting going.  So sadly my recording of that song was not to come to pass, but for your pleasure I am including the recording of the whole two hour and ten minute set below, enjoy.  I know I sure did.

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Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.