The verdict: Totally worth it.
I’ve seen Ricki put his spin on the American songbook dozens of times at his standing Sunday night show at The Cavern on Greenville Avenue. But I’d never seen him backed by a live band. It goes without saying that the experience is always going to be richer when the CD player is replaced by 16 live musicians.
The feeling that stuck with me most from Saturday night, though, is what an incredible interpreter of songs he is. The new album includes plenty of the swinging, big band staples he’s associated with – “Night and Day,” “When You’re Smiling,” “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
But would you expect The Cure’s “Why Can’t I Be You?” Or how about “I Melt With You” by Modern English? And surely not the Duran Duran hit “Rio.” (As Derek joked with the crowd, “Watch out for the upcoming all Flock of Seagulls album.”) Yet all those songs made it onto the album after undergoing the same type of swing transformation that Paul Anka put on “Black Hole Sun” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for his Rock Swings album in 2005. Much of the credit for the reinvention of those 1980s hits should go to David Pierce, who arranged the music for the album and plays trombone in Derek’s band.
North Texas has its share of cover and tribute bands, and oftentimes the goal of those bands is to replicate a song as the audience is used to hearing it. No complaint here – most of the time that’s what the audience came to hear.
But it’s also nice a well-worn tune is given a fresh look. Even the classics can afford to have some new life breathed into them on occasion.
You can listen to clips of each song here.