Little Feat hits the road, performing in Kent

By Kelly Maile | Staff Writer Published:

Forty years after the late lead vocalist and guitarist Lowell George and keyboardist Bill Payne started jam band Little Feat in 1969, it has decided to hit the road again. This time, touring with singer-songwriter and music legend Leon Russell.

Little Feat will play the Kent Stage, 175 E. Main Street, in Kent at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The concert, originally scheduled for Halloween, was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.

"The day we were supposed to leave for the tour was the day Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast," said Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere, who joined the band in 1972. "We extended our New Year's Eve run to do these shows with Russell. We've done some shows with him down in Australia, which were incredible, but this will be our first time we've paired up and are doing some dates together. It's going to be amazing."

Little Feat's music style is a gumbo of American music, from deep southern rock and country to blues and folk.

"It has a little taste of everything and somehow it manages to flow pretty well," Barrere said. "That's why on our last show, we could go from doing a rock song like 'Fat Man In The Bathtub' to a country song like 'Willin' and keep the continuity throughout. There's a really good sense of humor to it and the musicianship is so good we just pull it off."

On tour, Little Feat will perform their 16th studio effort "Rooster Rag."

The 2012 album features their first new material in nine years.

"There has been a couple of changes in the band," Barrere said. "Our original drummer Richie Hayward passed away and drummer Gabriel Ford has been playing with us for over a year and we thought it would be nice to showcase him. We also went from being a seven-piece band to a six-piece band. Shaun Murphy had left the band, so we're once again an all boy band. It was time to add something a little more reflective of what we are doing today."

"Rooster Rag," which was originally a blues record, turned into a collaboration of classic electric Little Feat songs.

"We had gone into the studio and recorded about eight songs and two of those actually made it onto the record, which were 'Candy Man Blues' and 'Mellow Down Easy,'" Barrere said. "What happened was we started playing those songs live in front of an audience, which I think was a big advantage. When we got back in the studio, we re-recorded most of the songs."

The album features songs written by Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and Bill Payne and songs contributed from Little Feat guitarist Fred Tackett.

"We just kind of shifted gears from it being a straightforward blues record to it being a typical Little Feat record," Barrere said. "We added in all the different flavors of acoustic music and electric music."

Barrere said the band is looking forward to returning to the Kent Stage for the third time.

"Anytime you're about to hit the stage and you're not feeling a little excitement and juice running through your veins, well, then it's time to hang it up," Barrere said. "The Kent Stage has a great vibe to it and it's always really cool to play college towns."

Tom Simpson, co-owner of the Kent Stage, said Little Feat always brings a diverse crowd to the Kent Stage.

"It brings a lot of the Kent State alumni back to Kent, who used to hang here in the '70s, and younger people too," Simpson said. "That's one of the things with Little Feat. They have crossed over from generation to generation. They are kind of like a roots band. They go back to the jam band days and the kids that go to jam band concerts today are into Little Feat. It's a cool thing. It's definitely a multi-generational event."

Little Feat will perform at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35. Tickets from the postponed date will be honored. For more information, call 330-677-5005 or visit online at www.

kentstage.org.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1123

or kmaile@recordpub.com

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