The Moving Sidewalks: New York, NY, March 30, 2013

Mike Perciaccante BY

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The Moving Sidewalks
B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill
New York, NY
March 30, 2013

Before the beard, before ZZ Top and before the dawn of the '70s, Billy F. Gibbons was the guitar slinger for another Texas-based band. The Moving Sidewalks were active during the late '60s—1967 to 1969, to be precise—in Houston. The band's sound was heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, The 13th Floor Elevators, Texas Blues, Lightnin' Hopkins, Freddie King, T-Bone Walker, The British Invasion, garage pop and psychedelic rock.

By 1967, The Moving Sidewalks had a regional hit on local Houston radio stations and had played gigs opening for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, The Jeff Beck Group and many others. The future appeared bright. But it was not to be. In the summer of 1969, two members of the band were drafted into the army just prior to the release of their debut album, Flash (Tantara, 1969), and the band dissolved.

The Moving Sidewalks (Gibbons, Tom Moore on organ, bassist Don Summers and drummer Dan Mitchell) was a group that, for many, was lost in the sands of time and never to be heard again. That was, until it reunited and treated its fans to what one member of the audience termed "a minor miracle" for a one-time-only performance at New York City's B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill (actually a one of two-time-only performance, as the group will also play the 2013 Austin Psych Fest).

The band treated the middle-aged crowd in the packed-to-the-gills (the seats on the floor were removed to allow for a larger crowd) blues club to exactly what they came for—an evening of fun, '60s-drenched rock with a sly nod to the economical and tasty guitar licks that Gibbons has used to drive ZZ Top for forty years. Up until the recent release of The Moving Sidewalks: The Complete Collection (Rockbeat Records, 2012), the entire recorded output of The Moving Sidewalks consisted only of the fifteen tracks available on the expanded reissue of Flash (Akarma Records, 2000).

On this evening, the band played seventeen songs. In addition to the legendary single, "99th Floor," (which gained fame through the Pebbles, Vol. 2 (Archive, 1979) series of '60s garage punk collections), the band played songs from Flash as well as covers of Jimi Hendrix ("Foxy Lady" and "Red House," after which Gibbons announced that "Jimi taught us half of what we know..."), Robert Petway ("Catfish Blues" into which the band weaved Hendrix's "If 6 Was 9"), The Troggs ("Wild Thing," leaning more on Hendrix' Monterey Pop Festival interpretation), Bo Diddley ("Before You Accuse Me") and The Beatles (a slower, heavier, 1969 version of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand").

Following a nice, tight and energetic opening set by The Headless Horsemen, Gibbons and his cohorts appeared on stage. Gibbons leaned into the mic and quietly stated, "It's true; we're back!" The members of Moving Sidewalks then settled in behind their instruments and opened with the instrumental, "On The Green." The band then ripped through a set that included choice covers and the band's "You Make Me Shake," the trippy ballad "You Don't Know The Life," "What Are You Doing to Do," "Joe Blues" "Pluto—Sept. 31st," "No Good To Cry" and "Flashback."

Though clearly not ZZ Top, The Moving Sidewalks played a strong set of energetic rock 'n' roll. The band members and many of the fans in the crowd got a chance to relive their youth, hearkening back to a simpler time, and enjoy the music for what it is—a magic potion that soothes the soul.

[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon].

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