Fifteen years ago the Replacements were, to some, the saviors of rock--sloppy, irreverent and snide, yet with emotional resonance and depth. Today, some people still think the defunct Minneapolis quartet can save rock, at least as an inspiration. A mini-tribute to the band was the climax of Tuesday's Viper Room show inaugurating a campaign called, with winking rock swagger, the International Society for Good Music.
Following sets by Thelonious Monster's Bob Forrest (co-founder with Viper Room proprietor Sal Jenco of the sponsoring organization), Ryan Adams and Chris Stills, the participants teamed up to sound like the Band for a prayerful version of the Replacements' "Here Comes a Regular." Then, between two Neil Young songs led by Stills (son of Young compadre Stephen Stills), Counting Crows' Adam Duritz sang the Replacements' "Unsatisfied."
The latter could be the anthem for the nascent movement. As the show's host, Forrest stressed that he's not imposing any definition of good, but he believes that a lot of music fans are simply unsatisfied with what's being offered.
Forrest and friends are out to foster a support system for alternatives, and on that note, their campaign--with weekly Viper Room shows planned, continuing with S.T.U.N. and the Campfire Girls next week--got off to a good start.
In front of a packed-in, appreciative crowd, Forrest, long a songwriter and performer of wit and depth, added grace and sensitivity with backing from members of Counting Crows and the Wallflowers.
Next came a captivating solo acoustic turn by Adams, former leader of alt-country band Whiskeytown, whose fragile, moving songs echoed Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen and Tim Buckley. Stills and band followed with a more polished, less intimate set, with influences from Jimi Hendrix to Steely Dan to Stills' father.
But the evening was more than the sum of its parts, which is the point of truly satisfying--not to mention good--music.