Nick Annis and Jesse Jackson
Labyrinth Café Concert Series – 03/10/12
U.U. Church of Fort Lauderdale, FL
Okay, so the movie is The Lion In Winter (Embassy Pictures, 1968), starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Now Eleanor of Aquitaine (Hepburn) while sparring with her estranged husband Henry II (O’Toole) over succession to the throne blurts out, “in a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible.” And last nights show at Labyrinth Café (www.labyrinthcafe.com) starring Nick Annis (www.nickannis.com) and Jesse Jackson (www.myspace.com/jessejackson) is true proof of that. Given that Sam Pacetti (www.sampacetti.com) was originally scheduled to co-feature with Nick, but cancelled 48 hours in advance due to an injury (at last report he is healing well), one wonders how a show could be resurrected on such short notice. But Jesse Jackson stepped in and the show went on.
Now Jesse Jackson and I go back a few years to our days of hosting separate shows at Luna Star Café (www.lunastarcafe.com). Strangely, I have always found that he possesses lion-like facial features, and he shares much in common with Peter O’Toole. Both are men of incredible strength and perseverance. Both are men of incredible talent and skill. But both are ultimately men, and as such, prone to human foible. Now in a world where our entertainment has been over-caramelized, pre-sanitized and American Idolized, I find a bit of humanity – foible or not – absolutely refreshing in a performance. And Jesse’s singing last night was fit for both king and pauper in its majestic Lion-In-Winter way. In some respects, it wasn’t so much that Jesse was performing last night as he was sharing. And as with anything we share, the act is often incomplete: sometimes we share a little bit of this, and then a little bit of that, and then a little bit of something else. Now this is the Jesse I knew and loved to listen to at Luna Star, for you never quite knew what tantalizing bit of inspired music he’d offer you, nor how much of it, before moving on to something just as refreshing and captivating. I for one found the spontaneity and novelty of Jesse as enjoyable last night as I ever did years ago at Luna.
In comparison, Nick Annis is a man of metered measures. There is a distinct precision and form to his music that makes every note and nuance pointedly his own. Now of course, everyone knows that James Taylor sounds amazingly like Nick Annis, but poor baby James for lacking the lyrical skill and humor which Nick Annis doles out with the bat of his eyes. I can’t remember ever seeing someone who makes the art of song writing and the craft of acoustic guitarmanship seem so effortless. More than that, Nick is fun to listen to because when he doesn’t have you rolling with laughter from satirical lines bold enough to have made Monty Python green with envy, he’s providing you with food for thought on a diversity of subjects from farting, to Home Depot, to texting while driving, and the Holocaust. Now there’s something to be said for a performer who can make you laugh to tears, and then somberly think about so much in just one show.
So yes, in a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible. And to prove that, the star of last night’s show was Susan Moss, Labyrinth Cafe’s head honcho and chief bottle washer. Why, because when the chips were down and the word cancellation rose it’s formidable head, Susan proved to us that in a world where carpenters get resurrected, the show must go on.