It was fun, nostalgic and filled with fabulous music. That is the way the 12th annual Dave Rowley and Friends concert at the Pearson Lakes Art Center Friday night will go down in the history books.
Rowley and friends: Ryan Sather, Gary Lambert, Brent Wallin, Carlis Faurot and Perry Pearson get together once a year and cut loose, giving a sold-out crowd an evening of pure enjoyment.
Apparently Pearson, Sather and Lambert didn't receive the dress code and were not attired in Hawaiian tropical shirts to go along with the bilgy palm trees and other adornments on the stage. But that really did not matter so much because all six are such fine musicians and entertainers that we in the audience sat back and loved every minute of the show.
Opening each of their shows is the classic "Summertime" done in a great tropical beat. The song's delivery prepares the audience mindset and it never slacks off. We were treated to the group's version of the Jimmy Buffet song "Brown-Eyed Girl" with an awesome bass solo by Wallin. He also pleased us greatly with his enthusiastic version of "Oh, Lord Its Hard To Be Humble" and we sang along loudly.
"Walkin' On The River" featured vocals by Lambert. Then the comedy continued. Sather sang to us what he referred to as a love song -- "Why Don't You Love Me Like My Dog?" and we chuckled through all the "touching" lyrics. Sather's facial expressions as his hands fly across his keyboard add greatly to each song he does in a show.
Faurot, from Cedar Rapids, plays a small, electric violin that he makes do everything but talk to us. He is amazing to watch and listen to. Three times during his performance of "Orange Blossom Special" the audience broke out in applause and they gave him a much-deserved standing ovation at its conclusion. Kudos to Lambert's expert drumming skills. He kept up with Faurot through the entire song.
Pearson referred to himself as a redneck. And everyone who knows him realized, that was a funny statement. He treated us to a rousing version of "Up Against the Wall You Redneck Mother" and it was so much fun to sing along; or, in some cases, shout. It immediately brought back memories of partying with my son and his frat brothers at Pier One and doing that song so well with Darryl Lee. Thanks for the memories Perry -- So Well, So Well, So Well!
Their slow, soothing rendition of the Beatles tune "Something" was marvelous.
Rowley does a couple of funny songs with catchy lyrics that everyone wants to hear each year and he didn't disappoint us. "Walleye" sung with gusto to the turn of "Rawhide" and the Vasectomy song are real crowd pleasers.
The instrumental intro and closing of "Hotel California" gave us all a true version of this group's outstanding instrumental talent.
Rowley treated us to an original song he wrote many years ago about living in the now with family and friends to treasure. It made us think and count our blessings.
We all sang along gustily to "Rock Me Mama." When they turned Faurot loose again on his fiddle, "Jamaican Jam" evolved into a standard Irish jig that had us all clapping along so hard and fast that our hands got sore.
Sather sang "Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw to his wife and we loved it.
A surprise appearance by Jo Gehrke, the vocal music teacher at Okoboji Elementary School and her two daughters was a real crowd pleaser. They joined in on "Hit the Road Jack" and the audience loved it. Gehrke has a tremendous voice and can belt a song better than Ethel Merman ever thought of doing.
The lengthy standing ovation at the conclusion of the show brought the six compadres back to the stage for one more song. The trio of Gehrkes joined the six compadres on stage for a lively gospel encore that left us all marking our calendars for next August.
Thank you to Rowley, Sather, Lambert, Faurot, Pearson and Wallin for a great evening of music and fun!