On Saturday night at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, in two hours of joyous rock 'n' roll, Billy
McGuigan and his stellar band showed a wildly appreciative audience that Charles Hardin Holley lives on today in
heart-lifting music that deserves to be called timeless.
Billy opened the show at a breakneck pace (Not Fade Away," how appropriate is that?) and paused only occasionally to
talk with the audience in his Buddy Holly persona (a pair of horn-rimmed glasses). Stage left, stage right, behind the
keyboard, playing his 1956 Fender Stratocaster while leaping, running, dancing and singing, all while wearing a coat
and tie, he displayed an athleticism well beyond that of his hero - and way beyond that of his audience.
His band, too, helped to bring the music into the 21st century. Like Billy, they are superb musicians, and, also like
Billy, it was clear that they were not just doing a job. They were having fun. That, along with Billy's invitation to
get up and dance, made the show pretty near irresistible. (That only a few of us did get up and dance is a reflection
not on the music but on the average age of the audience members, which appeared to be about 55.)
Re-imagining Buddy Holly's music is what Billy McGuigan does: replacing a gospel choir with a brass trio; encouraging
his keyboardist to channel Jerry Lee Lewis; asking his trombone player to double on vocal harmonies.
It Doesn't Matter Anymore" as an up-tempo rocker? Not a problem. A version of Oh Boy!" that rocks even harder than
the original? Can do. Not covers of old songs, but reinventions that make the old seem new, better - and louder - than
ever. Were there two standing ovations, or three? And how many encores? If you had the good fortune to be at Rave On!"
last Saturday, you may imagine how much Buddy - 73 years old, sitting next to me in the fifth row - would have loved
Many thanks to those responsible for bringing Rave On!" to Durango.
Sam Eliot, Durango