Im A Believer

P.D. Kelley

It was great to get out of the rain and into the Rogue Theater to listen to Michael Nesmith this past Saturday, January 19th.  His career post Monkees has been remarkably varied: singer, musician, producer, songwriter, video personality and philanthropist.  He’s produced a number of his own albums and toured extensively, sometimes doing reunion appearances with his former band mates, often with other artists, and he credits his happiest collaboration with pedal steel guitar player extraordinaire, Red Rhodes.  Nesmith and Rhodes played on several albums together until Red’s death in 1995.  Nesmith told the Rogue crowd that his current tour included six performances (this night being one of them) when he would recreate this collaboration, drawing principally from his 1972 album, “And the Hits Just Keep On Comin’ “.  Joining Nesmith on stage was renowned pedal steel guitarist, Pete Finney and both expressed their delight in being able to play together.  What followed was a mellow, melodious stream of tunes, mostly country in flavor, with one song sounding much like the next, at least in style and tempo.  Nesmith is known for his acoustic 12 string proficiency and this was clear as his chops were strong. Most notable were his lyrics: thoughtful and poetic.  He did a few Monkee tunes as well and near the end of the show, sang his one top forty hit, “Joanne.”  My eyes got a little misty.  This was a grand way to start 2019 at the Rogue.

Opening for Nesmith was guitarist Scott McCaughey, a wild-haired, spirited performer who surprised me.  His guitar playing was solid and I thought, well this will just be a pleasant interlude.  Then he began singing his quirky, often funny lyrics and he had the audience chuckling and encouraging him.  He got lost a few times, forgetting words and/or music but came out of the spin with self-deprecating humor and we loved him all the more.  He had a stroke in 2017 and talked some about his bewildering recovery, and how he can mostly count on his memory but not always.  “I’m not asking for pity,” he said.  “The music stands on its own.”  McCaughey heads up two bands, one in Seattle and one in Portland, where he lives.  He was an auxiliary member of REM until their breakup in 2011, and has had a long musical career.  After each great show at the Rogue and listening to the personal stories of fine musicians I’m a believer in this:  music can save the world!

Catch you on the flip side. . .