Andre Williams and The Sadies
My Thursday night volleyball games kept me away from Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern until 11 p.m., so I unfortunately missed local blues/roots/rock-and-roll combo Catl (who I quite like and last saw at the Halloween party at Mitzi's Sister a few weeks ago) and Montreal rockabilly artist Bloodshot Bill (who I've never witnessed in person, but have liked what I've heard on radio and seen on television), who I'll try to catch opening for King Khan & BBQ at Lee's Palace on Dec. 4.
But my arrival coincided with the start of a short nine-song set by The Sadies, which included "Why Be So Curious (Part 3)," "Leave Me Alone," "Stay A Little Longer," "Tiger Tiger" and a couple of instrumentals. The quartet was sharp, as always, and got the good-sized crowd pumped up for its next role as Andre Williams' backing band.
"Mr. Rhythm" (who was apparently given that name by the late, great Redd Foxx) took the stage along with two local go-go dancers (who I won't name, just in case their employers happen to see this and didn't know they were moonlighting). Andre was decked out in a red zoot suit with matching hat, had earrings on both sides of his head, and looked every part the pimp.
I've seen Andre at least half-a-dozen times, but it's been a few years since he's been in Toronto. He didn't look as good as he has in the past when I saw him at the Continental Club in Austin during the South By Southwest Music Festival in March, so I was a bit wary going in to this performance. He turned 73 earlier this month and has lived a hard life that's included lots of booze and drugs and periods of homelessness, but he seemed to be rejuvenated somewhat for this show. Performing in front of The Sadies can do that to people.
Andre opened with "Hallelujah" and then moved into "She's A Bag Of Potato Chips," which he recorded with The Sadies on the 1999 country-influenced Red Dirt album. He showed a few dance moves during "Agile, Mobile & Hostile" and then sang about one of his many fantasies with "I Wanna Be Your Favorite Pair Of Pajamas." The Sadies provided lots of raunch and crunch in support, and Dallas Good even took an impressive turn at the organ during "Pajamas."
Things slowed down for another Red Dirt track, "I Can Tell," after which Andre said, "I'd like to take a short break and turn you over to some bad motherfuckers."
Andre stood behind Dallas and caught his second wind as The Sadies ripped through an uplifting version of "Higher Power."
The dancers returned once Andre reclaimed centre stage to scan the crowd for "some good pussy," which was an obvious introduction for "Pussy Stank."
Andre then reached back about 50 years into his catalogue for two early hits. First came a bluesy doo-wop version of "Bacon Fat," followed by the still lascivious "Jail Bait."
Andre made a dedication to all the "hillbillies in the house," and explained, "I used to pick cotton and screw myself because there was no girls" when he was growing up as a "blackbilly" in Alabama.
The set ended with what's probably Andre's best-known song, the ever-awesome "Shake A Tail Feather," which had the go-go girls shaking theirs.
Andre returned to the stage wearing a Christmas sweater for a short two-song encore that concluded with a reprise of "Hallelujah."
The set was relatively short and I really missed "Let Me Put It In," which used to be a highlight of past shows and seemed to get a lot of ladies excited, but any time spent with Andre is a good time.
Andre isn't quite what he used to be as a performer, but I'm glad that he may be able to prolong his career a bit and make some more money now that he's cleaned up — even though from a totally selfish perspective, I miss some of the old post-show, backstage debauchery that used to take place (that I would just observe, of course, since I would never dream of partaking in any illicit activities).
Here are some of my shots from the show: