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Where: Florence, Alabama (Mariott Shoals Resort & Conference Center, Sam Phillips Music Celebration)
When: January 7, 2006
Written by: Lloyd Daughtery

Set list:

1) Roll Over Beethoven
2) You Win Again
3) Sweet Little Sixteen
4) Georgia On My Mind
5) Over The Rainbow
6) Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
7) She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye
8) Me and Bobby McGee
9) Before The Night Is Over
10) Chantilly Lace
11) Great Balls Of Fire
12) Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

Show length: 50 minutes

Jerry Lee Lewis in Florence, Alabama
Picture: Renee
Pictures Section for more pictures of this show

 Anyone in Florence, Alabama who may have thought that Jerry Lee Lewis had mellowed since his last appearance there thirty-five years ago are no longer under that impression.

The first annual Sam Phillips Music Celebration began its last evening of entertainment in earnest at 8:00 p.m. with neo-rockabilly Eric Heatherly. The first number was true to the Memphis sound originated by honoree Sam Phillips but quickly degenerated into a series of tedious guitar solos ala Jimmy Hendrix. The degeneration of the sound quality soon followed.

The sound engineer obviously thought he had been hired to mix a heavy metal or rap band with the bass turned up to beyond maximum with any high notes that may have been hit lost in the thud.

Next came the Amazing Rhythm Aces. Then it was time for the Memphis Beats. Kenny was obviously nervous from the outset. He worked quite a while on the sound but it simply wasn't right. The band's act had to be halted several times due to feedback and some malfunctioning equipment on stage. A few of the bugs were worked out but the Killer's entrance was probably a little too soon for Kenny's liking. Jerry Lee strode on stage wearing a nice jacket and tie, cigar clenched in his mouth, slightly stooped from his back problem but by all appearances steady.

Once seated at the bench, he placed the cigar on the piano and launched into "Roll Over Beethoven". The minute he began to sing, the feedback began again. He gave them plenty of time to correct the problem with several extended instrumental breaks. By simply watching the big projection screens on both sides of the stage, you could see the anger building and the explosion getting ready to occur.

It only took only one song for the Killer to have had it with the sound system that the audience had grown weary of throughout the evening. "I don't have time for this; you don't have time for this" Jerry Lee said, looking at the audience. Then "I'm not singing another song until you get it right." The Killer's anger soon focused on the sound man himself. "If you can't do your job go and find somebody who can," he said. Remarkably the crowd rose to their feet encouraging and applauding Jerry's tirade. One woman who had been pushed around in a wheelchair all evening stood up with her fist in the air yelling "You tell them, Jerry!" I don't know if that was a miracle or not but for a minute I thought I might be at one of Jimmy Swaggart's healing shows.

After some adjustments, the music started again a measured "You Win Again" followed by a rocking "Sweet Little Sixteen", after which Jerry asked "Where did y'all get this piano? Sears and Roebuck?" Jerry, as we say down South, tickled himself with that comment and seemed to be in a better mood. "Georgia On My Mind" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" were next. The Killer's voice was full of inflection and soul. I thought his voice was stronger and clearer than it was a couple of years ago. I did miss Kenny's fiddle on these two songs. "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" was the weakest performance of the evening and one of the slowest, least energetic versions I've heard. When the song ended, Jerry said the same thing-that the band played it slow but he liked it fast and then tore into a very short but blistering rendition with just him and the piano. A full version would have been incredible.

He followed with "She Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye" with a great response from the crowd; a lot of country fans in Florence, Alabama. "Me and Bobby McGee" was next and then he talked about the new album and said "Before the Night is Over" would be on it and that it was originally recorded on Mercury. He seemed mighty proud that B.B. King had played guitar on this song. I know lot of you are not happy about this song being included on the new album. However, the live version was very strong and featured some┬  fresh, unique piano work and was significantly different from the Mercury cut.

"Chantilly Lace" got the crowd worked up and Jerry played it for all it was worth.

Jerry then entered into a relatively long and very entertaining complaint about the monitors on stage and ended up with him saying "I can't hear a thing so I'm just playing what I feel". The crowd erupted in appreciation with that comment.

Then one of the most powerful and violent renditions of "Great Balls of Fire" that I've heard in a while. The movie version was extended even further and with some rocking piano solos. Seventy year-old hands pounding on the piano reminded everybody that at the core of the act is still Jerry Lee Lewis and his pumping piano. The room was on its feet, screaming, squalling and shaking. A rock and roll revival had broken out in spite of the sound man who didn't have a clue.

Before the next song came Jerry's only word about Sam Phillips that evening. "Here's a song we played for Sam Phillips back at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee".

"Whole Lot of Shakin'" started much faster than usual and only slowed down at "stand it in one little spot". A very strong ending, a kicked piano stool, the cigar back in the Killer's mouth and the show was over.

Listening to folks talk after the show, I think the fact that Jerry lost his temper was somehow encouraging and exciting to those who may have thought they were just coming to a fifties nostalgia show.

They will remember the night Jerry Lee Lewis passed through Florence, Alabama.


Where: Florence, Alabama (Mariott Shoals Resort & Conference Center, Sam Phillips Music Celebration)
When: January 7, 2006
Written by: Renee

We just got home from Florence, Alabama where Jerry Lee closed the  Celebration for Sam Phillips Week to a sell-out crowd. He mentioned  his new album and played a selection "Before the Night is Over". He  put on an awesome show of 12 songs...Opened with Roll over Beethoven, You win Again, Drinkin' Wine Spo-dee O-dee, Georgia, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, She Even Woke Me up to Say Goodbye, Me and Bobbie McGee, Chantilly┬  Lace, Great Balls of Fire and closed with Whole Lotta Shakin.

His health seemed much better then when we saw him 5 years ago. He joked with the crowd when he asked for a drink and they brought him a  Sprite..."Isn't that sweet?" Said he could have played Drinkin' Wine Spo-dee-O-Dee quicker but the band couldn't keep up!

I believe The Killer is making a comeback in everyway! Of course he  was irritated with the sound system....and threatened to leave...but thankfully for all of us he stayed and put on a heck of a performance. Girls from 18 to 80 were shakin in the aisles.┬  He kicked over the piano stool. He received a standing ovation and he left the building as the band continued to rock.

I hope that my memory serves me well in this report...I do know his performance was well received by all in attendance and no one went  home disapppointed! I am so awestruck by Jerry Lee that I am spellbound in his presence and I may have left something out....Trust┬  me it was awesome!

Jerry Lee has brought much musical joy and happiness to so many for so many years. May he continue to have good health and the recognition┬  that he so richly deserves from the music industry! Bach, Beethoven  and Jerry Lee~ may they reign supreme!


Last update: August 17, 2007
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