The Mark Pender Band performed Saturday night at Jazz at the Corners in Grandview – an outdoor, FREE, jazz/blues concert – and, as usual, put on an energetic, exciting, shake-your-moneymaker kind of show. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts in my life (well probably a hundred, maybe a few more, but definitely a hundred at least) and not many performers make you feel like a close personal friend. And even though I can say that Mark IS a close, personal friend of mine (well, maybe not a CLOSE CLOSE friend but he probably wouldn’t run the other way if he saw me on the street, at least I don’t think so), I know everyone in the audience felt like he was their good friend, too. That’s just the kind of guy Mark is.
Many of MY good friends were there including The Hestands (who I vote as having the Children Who Look Most Like Them), Pammy (who, with braces looks exactly the same as she did in high school and who keeps telling us how fat she is – to which I promptly gave her the finger), Dave (who teaches physics at UMKC and spent time at the JPL, and who I stupidly once asked if he knew Carl Sagen – who is dead, which I KNOW, OK?), Jim (who thinks Dave & I don’t remember him from high school but we DO, and who is as insecure as I am, which I love), and Nancy (who I don’t remember from high school but wish I did cause she’s really cool and she probably would have been fun to hang out with).
Anyway, as I was saying, Mark has a great rapport with the audience and managed to do what is nearly impossible these days: He got a bunch of almost-50 year olds to dance. OK, so maybe the fact that SOME of us had had a few beers helped to loosen the inhibitions, as well as the knee joints. But we did it. And we looked GOOD (I think). At least we had fun doing it, especially when Andi got us all to do The Mantony, a dance made popular by former classmate Roger Mantony, who would be pleased to know that we still remember him fondly.
Another great thing that Mark did was to invite any young people with their instruments to the stage to jam with him on a song. So five terrified high school band students sucked it up, got onstage with Mark Pender, and played “Baby”. It was a great show and, at 1 ½ hours, much too short.
I only have one teeny tiny complaint: At last year’s concert at the Blue Room, Mark played Rick James’ Give it to Me Baby, which really rocked, in my opinion. Now, I’m a HUGE fan of Mark’s and I bought TWO of his CDs and I can really belt out the lyrics to his songs when I’m in the car or somewhere where there aren’t any other people (I’m not known for my singing voice although I personally don’t think it’s THAT BAD). But everybody likes a little Rick James once in awhile, even if they say they don’t, and the reason why I know this is because when you hear Super Freak playing somewhere, just look around and everybody’s tapping their toes to it and singing along (except when it’s on the Old Navy commercial and they say Super Skirt instead of Super Freak – how stupid is that?). It’s just like that. Same thing with Madonna. People SAY they don’t like her but they can’t really resist singing along to Holiday, can they?
There, that’s my 2 cents worth.
So if you ever get the chance to see The Mark Pender Band live, do it. Or you can just watch the Conan O’Brien show but really, on TV you only get to see a little tiny bit of Mark playing and that’s not very much fun.
This post is dedicated to Roger Mantony, Purveyor of Fine New & Used Plastic Equipment.