During Mother’s Finest‘s first song on Thursday night at Schooners — a long jam of “Mickey’s Monkey” that wrapped with guitarist Gary “Moses Mo” Moore leading MF through Band of Gypsies’ “Who Knows” — I was shooting some photos when a bouncer walked up and said no more pics or video after the first song.
I wondered why, but singer Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy’s words to the crowd explained it: “We want you all to be free and open to having a good time. That’s the only reason we’re here.” If you wanted to get wild and loose, there would be no one shooting video or taking photos that would embarrass you later. Besides, in my estimation, it would just distract from the hard-hitting funk-rock that this band is still delivering with deep impact, even decades after Mother’s Finest started.
At that point, I decided I wasn’t going to write a huge review of the band. First, it wouldn’t capture how hot Mother’s Finest was on this night. And second, folks should have been there! About 100 people were at Schooners, a room that can hold about twice that many. Most in the room were already true believers, though I talked to a couple of people who came because friends had told them about it. They didn’t know anything about the band, but they did not want the show to end. It was elevating.
But I can’t avoid making a few observations here. The band followed up singer Glenn Murdock’s work on “Mickey’s Monkey” with Kennedy taking the lead for another band classic, “Truth Will Set You Free,” killer gospel harmonies underpinned by that marriage of hard-rock guitar with greasy funk music. Mother’s Finest pioneered this stuff, and it is still the band to beat if you want to make that style happen. Chill-inducing.
Propelling it all were bassist Jerry “Wyzard” Seay, still a funky monster, and drummer Dion Murdock, Glenn and Joyce’s son. I had told some people before the show that he was their son. One of them replied, “They made their own drummer!” They did, and he is a beast.
Forget classic lineup drummer Barry “B.B. Queen” Borden. Dion’s work makes a listener forget there was ever anyone else behind the kit for this act. Dion has done his own thing with acts such as Fishbone and Macy Gray, but the kid who grew up on the road with his parents’ band, soaking in the work of every drummer before him, is the man for Mother’s Finest.
The band did everything its fans would want — “Baby Love,” “Give You All The Love (Inside of Me),” “Piece of the Rock,” “Hard Rock Lover” and more. But there were new songs, too. Glenn “Doc” Murdock took the lead on “Breakin’ Down The Wall,” coming off like a Southern preacher at the pulpit who also knows how to rock a crowd.
Nothing, I repeat nothing, is over for Mother’s Finest. Look at the band’s tour schedule, and go see it as soon as you can. The truth really will set you free.
It might have set me free from my equilibrium. In a full disclosure, after the show was over, I fell on my face, and I sure do look pretty about now. Not drunk, mind you. Only four beers, but not enough food, and energy expended getting off on this show — which as some others have correctly pointed out, was civic center quality — are the culprits I’ll blame.
Back in the day, Mother’s Finest used to open for bigger-selling bands at civic centers, and scared the devil out of those headliners. The band has the same power, but I’m guessing no one in the states would dare take a chance on getting owned by a bunch of old folks (and a couple of younger ones; guitarist John Hayes has plenty of mojo, too) who can still bring it something fierce.