Otis and Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites
There were three things I was obsessed with back in the 80′s. Ghostbusters, The Dukes of Hazzard, and the Georgia Satellites. Of course when you speak of the Satellites, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” comes to mind, then everything they did is pushed back. When you speak of the Satellites, Dan Baird always gets mentioned, but can anybody else name the other members? Original lead guitarist Rick Richards set out to prove on Friday night the spirit of the Georgia Satellites is alive and well regardless the lineup. And that is exactly what he did bringing that high energy Southern Rock to Lexington Friday night for Oktoberfest, or as I say…ROCKTOBERFEST.
With the threat of raining looming, that didn’t dampen the spirits of booze, Catholics (of course everybody was there, didn’t matter if ya went Christ the King or not) and rock and roll. The Satellites took the stage at 9:30 and for two hours it was non-stop boogie-woogie Southern Rock at it’s finest.
Samuel Adams Oktoberfest in my hand, and my Georgia Satellites album in my other hand…yes, LP…vinyl dude, I barged my way up front clearly on a mission for a good time. I wasn’t going to miss my favorite band from the 80′s play those classic songs!!! Now most of the people there know the Satellites for just one song. And that is a damn shame because they have so much good stuff out there that you are doing yourself a great injustice by not exploring what else the Satellites have to offer. And in addition to that, check out some of the work that individual members of the Satellites have done since the original lineup split.
Yes, the current version looks like a little different from what we remember in the 80′s. But the rock of the Satellites, and Rick Richards was supported by guitarist Fred McNeal. on bass Bruce Smith, and 20 year veteran of the Satellites, Todd Johnston on drums. The boys started off with the title track from their 2nd album, Open All Night. And that is how I felt at the end of the night. That place could have stayed open all night and if they were playing all night, you damn right I would have shut the place down myself. What makes a Satellites’ concert fun is that it is a tribute to American music, and the bands from across the pond that were influenced by that American Rock and Roll. So no surprise that they pulled out some classics. How about a super-charged up version of the Stonewall Jackson classic, “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Waters”. Then one of my all time favs from the GS (no offense to “Keep Your Hands To Yourself”) but damn, “Battleship Chains” is actually my favorite from them. I’m not sure why I enjoy that song so much, but it flat-out kicks my ass every time. From there, we took a little trip with the Georgia Satellites across America on the rock standard, “Route 66″. The Satellites’ gritty sound upheld the spirit of that 80′s buzz that they created with their homage to good American Chuck Berry Rock and Roll riffs, intertwined with Richards’ heavily Faces, Stones influenced guitar licks, with some Elmore James slide. What you may have is the last great American Rock and Roll band that stays true to the forefathers of Rock and Roll. Make sense?
And the Georgia Satellites kept pouring it on. From In the Land of Salvation and Sin, we heard “Six Year Gone” which could have been a great hair metal song, and no I do not consider the Satellites hair metal. I like them how they are and wouldn’t want it any other way. Remember when I told you how much good stuff from the Satellites that is out there that people don’t know? Dig the chorus to “Sheila”. It’s simple. ”Sheila Sheila”. This may have been the closest they would get to hair metal back in the late 80′s. That’s ok! But now we switch gears and damn if they didn’t bust out a version of The Possum’s “The Race is On,” which would have raised the hair on a dead POSSUM! AWESOME! What was fun too was how Rick Richards would randomly shout out German stuff. We have no clue what he was saying. It was ROCKTOBERFEST!!!
The Georgia Satellites
Now for the life of me, I don’t know what song they did next. All I know is that Rick Richards said that they were going to play their favorite Ronnie Wood song. What the hell was it? Whatever it was, I liked it, because right in the middle, they put a little Tom Petty “Listen To Her Heart” in there. It meshed perfect with that theme of good solid rock and roll. Speaking of, how about a little something from the Beatles and Richard Starkey? “Don’t Pass Me By” just flat-out kicked everybody in the balls. How many people knew it was a Beatles song? Not many, but damn it was good to hear that from Open All Night. Richards then hammered out a little classic slide working into some Amazing Grace, and brilliantly and flawlessly launched into a little solo of the Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations”. What’s best about the Satellites is how they can pull from their influences’ catalog and how they give it that southern Georgia Satellites twang to make it uniquely their own. Lord have mercy on my soul, considering we were on church grounds, I raised hell and praised Jesus all in one motion.
And damnit, these boys weren’t done, and I didn’t want them to be done. Let’s get some blues into ya with some of that “Highway 49″ as Rick Richards continued to tear that slide up! From their first album, the Satellites ripped “Can’t Stay the Pain” which brings us back that good Southern Rock the Satellites are known for. A late glance at my notes here and “Railroad Steel” and of course the upbeat fun “Hippy Hippy Shake”. And a late game surprise, the Beatles “I Am the Walrus”!!! Didn’t see that one coming, but the folks around me got into it. Also, big shout out for them covering Joe South’s “Games People Play”.
And they weren’t finished. Hell no! You can’t be the Georgia Satellites and not play “Keep Your Hands To Yourself.” It’s like being the Boss and not playing “Born in the USA”. And damn if they didn’t do it! They whipped two of the greatest songs of the 80′s and flat out kicked the hell out of it. And there I was up the dancing a fool, shaking all around and Jambalaya!
Determined to get the Georgia Satellites album signed that I brought, I would hold up during the show. People would look at it and saw ex-Sats lead singer, Dan Baird’s signature and reveled in the glory of the rock and roll relic. The goal was to get Rick to sign it. I ran into a few friends of mine and one of said “You are going to get the damn thing signed tonight. You will figure out way to get it signed. You are too good at this shit.”
Notieceably missing, The Faces “Every Picture Tells a Story” which was featured on The Georgia Satellites. I love their version of it!
A brief break and the Satellites brought it back around one more time for some classic rock oldies for an encore. Hellfire, I didn’t see it coming, but “Chantilly Lace” by the Big Bopper? I’ll take it! Can I get an amen!? Can I get some Chuck Berry!? Hell yes! ”Memphis, Tennessee” was another great surprise and another great example of the Satellites paying homage to their rock and roll heroes!
After the show was over, somebody from their production staff said, “Come back stage with us.” I grabbed my date’s hand and cool as daddy-o we walked on to the backstage area to meet the architect of my favorite band from the 80′s, Rick Richards. Finally, this Georgia Satellites album is going to look even better with signature on there alongside Dan Baird. A couple pics, and an autograph later, I told him “I want to tell you what I told Dan a few years back when I interviewed him. Man, back in the 80′s there was three things I was obsessed with. Ghostbusters, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Georgia Satellites.” He gotta good kick out of that one. I thanked him for putting on a hell of show and keeping rock and roll true to its form.
Bottom right, Dan Baird and I
So to the Georgia Satellites, your timing couldn’t be any better! To me, the Satellites showed up at the right time. Lexington is a market that attract a lot of country concerts that I particularly don’t care for. And it’s rare that we get a good rock and roll band to come though.
Whoever played in Lexington on that Friday night, the Georgia Satellites kicked your ass!
And I thank Christ the King for that.
I encourage you to explore the catalog to the Georgia Satellites. Also, check out ex-lead singer Dan Baird’s solo stuff, his band Homemade Sin and the Yayhoos. Both the Satellites and Baird continue to churn out the good Southern Rock that is true to the Satellites from old. I wouldn’t steer ya down the wrong track now.