It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since we last heard from David Mead live or on record other than the occasional Elle Macho gig with his friend Butterfly Boucher. But, the music community of people who appreciate great singer-songwriters is sure happy to have David back recording again. We here in Music City were doubly-blessed with this show at The Basement which is likely the place where many of us last saw him live back in January 2012.
This occasion was a one-off 9pm show to celebrate the release of Mead’s new LP, Cobra Pumps backed by a quartet of a few old friends. David would also do a solo in-store the next afternoon at Grimey’s New and Preloved Music.
Rather than having to wait outside the Basement for the 7pm show to end, early-arriving ticketholders like me were let into the room to witness the remaining moments of Pip the Pansy. The sight of the two musicians on stage wearing animal head masks was something right out of a Twin Peaks’ dream scene. Nuff said.
Just before this rather ghastly experience, I walked through the door right behind Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick who calls Nashville home. It took a while, but it eventually dawned on my slow brain that there must be a connection with the Lilah Petersson who I had read was David’s opener for the evening.
It was of course Tom’s daughter, and the gifted 15-year old played a set of rather serious original songs way beyond her young age. Her band for the brief set was a familiar one to Mead in that included her producer Joe Pisapia on guitar and his brother Marc on drums. Mead of course was once a member of their late 90’s Nashville pop band, Joe, Marc’s Brother. Dad Petersson of course was on stage playing a four-string bass.
Readying himself for the album-night set of the new record, David chose to first warm things up with the title track from Wherever You Are, a record he recorded back in 2002. Next launching into Cobra Pumps, Mead and guest guitarist Jonathan Trebing (Rascal Flatts and The Silver Seas) quickly reminded us that Cobra Pumps is just chock full of signature guitar licks.
Mead’s band was rounded out by the rhythm section of Chris McHugh on drums and Craig Young on bass who both have played on Mead records over the years. Mead’s “best friend and Mayor of East Nashville” Tommy Keenum provided backing vocals but did so alone. The original plan of having Butterfly on hand as well fell through due to a last-minute touring engagement with Sara Bareilles.
The run-through of Cobra Pumps was spectacular and reminded us all of just what a fine record it is. In between songs, David talked some about his absence and the recording with the most touching moments being when he mentioned the support from his wife and how his Dad encouraged to get back to music, also providing a check to help with its funding.
While we all love the Basement and it certainly was the appropriate stage for Mead’s return, the sold-out room was quite tight to say the least. And although the stellar sound system made for a delightfully-sounding evening, it was hard to comfortably view the stage. This sardined-environment even solicited a comment from David who said that if he were out there with us, he’d “probably turn around and leave his own show.”
Following the playing of Cobra Pumps, David quietly finished things out mostly alone. However, the first additional selection, “Touch of Mascara” from 1999’s The Luxury of Time was made quite special with Craig Young reprising his brilliant bass playing from the recorded version for the first time on stage. My bass-playing friends in the crowd were verklempt!
Photo by Glen Kimberlin
Tommy Keenum also rejoined David in this segment for a cover of “Wake Up Little Suzy.” The backdrop to this is that one of the side jobs Mead kept over the last seven years was an occasional jaunt to Key West, FL where he and Tommy played covers in a beach bar. Their beautifully-blending voices gave us a peak into what those shows were like, although without the Margherita and flip-flops.
The evening came to an end with perhaps David’s two best and most-popular songs: “Indiana” and “Nashville.” Both come from the desert-island-disk Indiana which Mead will be performing on this same stage on May 3 to honor its 15th anniversary. Not that any Mead fans would even think of missing this set, but the addition of The Silver Seas as the opening act now makes this one of the most anticipated events of the young 2019 Nashville music season. See you there!
- Wherever You Are
- Bedtime Story
- The Business
- Head on Straight
- She Walks Like a Grown Woman
- Poster Child
- Finger on the Button
- Big Balls
- You’ll Never Have to Play That Game
- Touch of Mascara
- Mine and Yours
- Wake Up Little Suzie (Everly Brothers cover)
David Mead—Vocals and Electric & Acoustic Guitar
Jonathan Trebing—Electric Guitar
Tommy Keenum—Backing Vocals