Let me admit up front that I am a prejudiced man. I have known David Pate for 38 years, so that might – or might not – color my judgment. But I think that, if he is not, as Jerry Outlaw says, “The greatest F’ing saxophone player on earth,” then he is certainly one of a handful. [Check out my pumpkin there with the sine wave!]
I have seen Pate with Bogus Pomp eleven times (the same number of times I saw Zappa, curiously enough) plus other outings with Majid Shabazz, Michael Ross and other assorted jazz mafia. But Hallowe’en night was the pinnacle for me. Pate gets less playing time in these outing than in other gigs, but he positively ripped the lid off the Skipperdome (OK, there ISN’T a lid, but, you know what I mean) with every solo he took. It was an incredible night for the entire band.
Time out! How about this for a mission statement:
Bogus Pomp is a great band dedicated to bringing the best possible performances of the most incredible music ever written.
Make it to Skipper’s for the 8 PM start, or hand out trick-or-treat candy? I missed the first hour, sadly. Boy, I wish I had heard the Thing-Fish theme “The Mammy Anthem!” I did arrive in time to hear one of my favorite tunes, “Clowns on Velvet,” also from Thing-Fish (there is a great live version on You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol.1). The Roxy and Elsewhere pair “Echidna’s Arf (Of You) > Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?” was blistering, followed by a set-closing vocal “Sofa” (in German, of course, from the theoretical soundtrack to a non-existent movie about God making a porno movie on a sofa with a pig. Got it?).
At the break, Pate and I discussed the lack of motivation of high school students. When the conversation reached its nadir, we shot upwards talking about Burnt Weeny Sandwich and how much we both loved Sugarcane Harris’ swing violin on “Little House I Used To Live In.” “We do that in the next set,” Pate said. “Little House of Kong.”
Did they ever! It was a medley of “Little House” and “King Kong,” with Pate taking Sugarcane’s solo on tenor. Man, oh, man! His first solo was swing, the second very free. The entire band was smoking by this point. Leader Jerry Outlaw was bonkers on guitar all night long, doing the music proud. The band’s take on “Approximate” freed everybody up, a wonderful treat to behear (is that a word?). The singers came back on stage for an incredible version of “Zomby Woof.” I have no idea what constitutes the first official “heavy metal” song, but this has to be among the first. Bravo!
Hallowe’en tradition demands “The Torture Never Stops,” and who were we to buck tradition? Pate soloed on flute (!?!) for a unique perspective, then tenor. Outlaw was in the zone. THE Zone. The Zappa Zone. The “Pound for a Brown (On the Bus” that followed was exceptional. Pate and Outlaw led off, but more than ever before for me the magnificent bass work of Alex Pasut stood out.
And speaking of magnificent, Dr. David Coash, percussionist extraordinaire, added his magical ingredients all night long, meshing seamlessly with drummer David Cowley. The dueling keyboards of Rick Olson and Ross Jobson added brilliant color to the sound on every tune, but none more so than on the closing “Strictly Genteel” (except for the manic synthesizer work on “Pound for a Brown”). “Genteel” was preceded by a lovely “Black Napkins” with vocal work again from Ward Smith and Caleb Hall.
It was a fabulous night! Anybody want to dispute that the Tampa Bay area’s absolutely greatest Hallowe’en throwdown is Zappaween?
I didn’t think so.
My photos are miserable. Be sure to check out the fine work by Jeff Moellering here:
[SET 1: Mammy Anthem, Cruisin’ for Burgers, Grand Wazoo, Eat That Question > City of Tiny Lites, Florentine Pogen > Andy > Wild Love > Clowns On Velvet > Marqueson’s Chicken, Echnida’s Arf of You > Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing, Sofa; SET 2: House of Kong > Black Page > Dupree’s Paradise > Approximate, Zomby Woof, The Torture Never Stops, Sinister Footwear > Pound for a Brown, Cosmik Debris > Uncle Remus, Strictly Genteel]