Little Feat, 40 years on, keep rocking Americana

Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:27am EDT
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By Jeremy Gaunt

CROPREDY, England (Reuters) - A day after the death of celebrated drummer and founding member Richie Hayward, the remaining musicians of iconic 1970s rock band Little Feat found themselves in a strange place.

Far from their American roots -- the southwestern deserts of "Willin'" or the Mississippi river banks of "Dixie Chicken" -- they faced instead a sodden, mud-covered field at Fairport's Cropredy Convention in rural Oxfordshire.

More pies, beer and cigs than the weeds, whites and wine of Willin'.

Little matter. The band, which was founded in 1969, belted out a crowd-pleasing, rocking set that had all the energy of the early years plus a few new musical wrinkles that kept it fresh.

Most of the current lineup have some claim to being originals, including keyboardist Bill Payne, who was in at the very start with Hayward, who died after a long illness last Thursday, and Lowell George, one of rock's talented young casualties, who died in 1979.

Guitarist Paul Barrere, percussionist Sam Clayton and bassist Kenny Gradney all joined in time for the 1973 release of the landmark Dixie Chicken album and guitarist Fred Tackett played on and off in the early days before joining full time when the band reformed in the late 80s after a hiatus.

But Barrere says it is not the membership of the band that matters all these years later -- it is the music that differentiates Little Feat from bands that had a few moments in the sun before fading.

"A lot of these bands had hits," he told Reuters before taking the stage last Friday. "Little Feat had music. That is really the core of our existence."   Continued...

<p>Long-time Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere rocks the crowd at Fairport's Cropredy Convention in Oxfordshire, England, August 13, 2010. REUTERS/Jeremy Gaunt</p>