It would appear that Mark Rashotte and the crew at The Empire Theatre have scored a musical coup for the final outdoor concert of the summer. The Gambler, the man who gave kids everywhere an excuse to tell a Dolly Parton boob joke , the legendary Kenny Rogers is coming to Belleville. For readers in the urban areas of the world this may not seem like a big deal, but for a city of 45,000 in rural Canada, Kenny is big as it gets (except for The Hip , a show I tragically missed).
Kenny Rogers of course is known for a string of hit songs like The Gambler, Islands In The Stream, Lucille, Lady and the original gangsta rap song – Coward of the County. It is the band that Kenny was in before going solo, The First Edition, that I think is his best music. I’m betting that most readers have never heard of The First Edition before.
The First Edition was a band with musical talent. Before Mickey Jones joined The First Edition, he took over drums from Levon Helm of ‘The Band’ after Helm left the famous Bob Dylan tour. Mary Arnold (their second female vocalist) beat out a little known Karen Carpenter for the vocals job and along with Terry Williams, The First Edition would put out a number of top 20 hits during their time together. The band would play a mix of country, pop rock, and what could be called light-psychedelic. Thanks to YouTube you can see three of their biggest hits below (note: I can’t find ‘Something’s Burning’, which was their biggest song. If any of you can find it, let me know).
“Just Dropped In” – this song ranks as my favorite Kenny song. This clip is from The Smothers Brothers Show and I love the set. Trippy man, trippy.
“Cause You Know I Love You” – Sweet and simple. Don’t be alarmed, that pleasant sound you hear is called “harmony” which at one time was common in popular music.
Ah the classic “Ruby (Don’t take your love to town)“. This live version of the classic hit was the last big song for The First Edition and was the springboard for Kenny’s successful solo career. I dig the clothes and Kenny’s hair, note the great guitar work.