Bebe Buell may have never been a rock star on her own, but in her lifetime she has hung around enough of them to know how to act, look, and even sing like one. With that said, I’d chalk up this early evening’s short and sweet showcase at Grimey’s Basement a success. At a free 7:00 gig, Nashville’s newest musical transplant from New York took us all back a few decades and reminded the crowded house how they rock in the big city.
With a new record coming soon, she and her band performed an encore of her local debut at the Bluebird Café earlier this May. Last August, Buell made a brief appearance at a Grimey’s in-store promoting Plowboy’s Eddie Arnold tribute CD to which she was a contributor.
Looking great at age 60, wearing a top hat Bebe sauntered on stage playing harmonica. Reminding me of a female version of David Johansen, she followed through with a rocking 10-song, 45-minute set of music that sounded right out of the Bowery. The solid Nashville Aces consisted of three couples and a drummer and featured some fine guitar work from Buell’s husband, Jimmy Walls and her producer, Jon Tiven.
Buell spoke quite fondly of her new home in Nashville and the joy of returning to her Southern roots. The new upbeat single “Hello Music City” used some clever words rhyming with “city” to get across how she was not sorry to leave New York. This one may just catch on as one of the best local songs of 2014.
Just before her final number, Buell took a quiet detour with a quick a cappella version of “Superstar,” The Carpenters’ hit whose story sounds somewhat reflective of her own life. While connecting with the sentiment, she sounded more like Patti Smith than Karen Carpenter. Her vocalizing on that song would have gotten her booted off American Idol!
Knowing Buell more as a model and an uber-fan, I had previously ignored her scattering of record releases since 1981. Seeing her spirited set turned out to be my biggest music surprise in recent memory. I’d see her again in a flash and suggest that you do as well. You, too, will be surprised. I look forward to hearing the recorded versions of these new well-crafted tunes.
- Nothing Really Changes
- Cross My Legs
- Hello Music City
- Frenemy Mine
- Secret Sister
- Hold You in My Heart (Eddy Arnold cover)
- Give Good Now
- Superstar (Bonnie Bramlett / Leon Russell cover)
- Baby Baby (The Vibrators cover)
Bebe Buell—Vocals and Harmonica Jimmy Walls—Guitar
Harry Stinson—Percussion and Backing Vocals
Beth Hooker—Backing Vocals