Delbert rocks Genoa | NevadaAppeal.com

Delbert rocks Genoa

Barry Smith

You know it’s a real rock n’ roll concert when a blonde girl comes dancing down the aisle.

Last Saturday night, about three songs into Delbert McClinton’s set, here she came — followed closely by a few of her friends, then several of the older, baby-boomer folks in the crowd, and pretty soon most of the crowd was bouncing around and shaking various body parts.

Out of respect for the people around me, I pretty much stayed in my seat. Me dancing is not a sight that should be inflicted on innocent people.

Yes, it was a real rock n’ roll concert, right there in the middle of Genoa.

I don’t think Mormon Station has seen the likes of Delbert McClinton before. From the reactions of a few people around town, I don’t think they’ve heard the likes of Delbert before, either.

The crowd didn’t fill up the Starlight Ampitheater, the name given to the area inside the stockade where Upstage Center placed a stage and something like 1,500 seats for the first in a summer-long series of Saturday night concerts. But it was a sizable and enthusiastic crowd, drawn by the novelty of opening night and by Delbert.

McClinton’s not exactly a household name, even though he’s got a nearly 40-year career of excellent albums with a few hits along the way. In fact, when the concert was announced and the Appeal was preparing an article, a young reporter here misspelled his first name as “Dilbert.”

I had to laugh. No, I told her, it’s not the comics-page character. It’s the Texas rhythm-and-blues singer. She just gave me a blank stare. Oh, well.

Interestingly, though, many of the people in the crowd Saturday night were young. Most were, like me, on the verge of fogeydom. And there were a few verifiable senior citizens. In other words, a pretty good mix.

The first act was Crazy Texas Gypsies, a straight-ahead blues band who set the tempo for the night.

Then came Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps, who lit up the audience. They hit a Bonnie Raitt-like groove (James plays electric piano) and never let up.

I’d never heard of James, but her biography says she was born in Texas and has played with people such as Raitt, Levon Helm and Asleep at the Wheel. If the show had ended when James left the stage, I would have felt I got my money’s worth.

But McClinton was yet to come. He played several songs from an album to be released next month, as well as a couple of old ones and favorites from “Nothing Personal,” the album that won the 2002 Grammy for best contemporary blues.

It was a much higher-energy show than one my wife, Jenny, and I saw a year ago at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. He was more responsive to the audience, probably because a good part of it had rushed to the edge of the stage to dance.

His band is among the best you’ll hear anywhere, and the show is mostly uptempo. When McClinton announced he was going to slow it down for a ballad, he got some groans from the audience.

“We’ve got to bring it down so we can bring it back up again,” he assured them.

My favorite moment came when a gray-haired gentleman a few seats in front of me couldn’t restrain himself any longer and broke into an enthusiastic Jitter Bug — at least, that’s what Jenny said it was. I wouldn’t know a Jitter Bug from the Watusi.

The concert ended a few minutes after 10 p.m., which as I understand it was a little too late for some of the residents of Genoa who like to go to bed early.

It certainly was louder than the last concert I attended at Mormon Station, which was the July 4 performance of patriotic tunes by the Reno Philharmonic. (I didn’t dance at that one either; instead, I pretty much dozed in the shade on a very hot afternoon.)

When I heard there were some complaints about McClinton’s concert, it reminded me of the night I was lying in bed grousing that “Somebody must be a very big Willie Nelson fan” because they had his music cranked up so loud you could hear it all over the neighborhood. I found out the next day that Willie himself had actually been performing at the fairgrounds not far from my house.

Well, as my neighbors can attest, I’m a pretty big Delbert McClinton fan who sometimes cranks his music up too loud. Saturday night, I had such a good time I forgot to look up into the sky to appreciate the reason it’s called the Starlight Theater.

Thanks, Genoa, for staying up late with me. It was a real rock n’ roll concert.

Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal.