B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
New York, NY
July 21, 2003
I had been pretty excited to go see Ak & Zuie ever since I found they were finally playing outside of California. I'd heard nothing but good things about them and I wanted to see if they lived up to their reputation. I didn't go in expecting much, but I left totally amazed.
Ak and Zuie is Steve Jay and Pete Gallagher. Steve is of course better known as the bass player for "Weird Al" Yankovic, and Pete was on as a drum tech for Weird Al's The Poodle Hat Tour, which meant Ak & Zuie would be able to schedule some shows along the tour route.
I was happy to see one of the shows was in New York City on an off day from touring. The City is only a 20 minute bus ride away, and B.B. King's is right on 42nd St., so it would be less than a block walk from Port Authority.
As it turned out, Amanda had scheduled to fly in that day before we knew about the show, so when the show was scheduled, we knew what our plans would be for that night. Amanda didn't actually arrive until a little later than expected, but we still had plenty of time to catch up with each other and run some errands before we had to go.
I had never been to B.B. King's before and it was a nice little place. Ak and Zuie were set up downstairs on a stage in a little dining area near the bar. We hadn't planned to eat there, but when the hostess said she couldn't seat us by the band unless we ordered something we had no choice but to say yes.
Turns out at that point we must have also agreed to become invisible to the wait staff and pretty much everyone else there. Nobody ever came to take our order, and at those prices, we were happy. I did go up and get us drinks from the bar however. They were the most expensive drinks I ever had.
Another funny thing is that we kept getting things we never ordered delivered to our table. At one point some guy came over and tried to give us someone else's drink order. Then, later on, another guy came by and tried to give us Jim West's food order.
I noticed quite a few familiar faces in the audience. Ian Jay, Steve's son, was there videotaping part of the show for his dad. Moonbean and Megan were seated with Carlotta at that table off to the side. At the table in front of us was Rachael, Blaine, and Richard E. Green. Tara Lyn was at the table just to their right. At the table to our left was Jay Levey and Al's tour booking agent. To our right was Jim West. Steve and Pete were setting things up when we arrived.
The show started off with some tunes I recognized from "Sea Never Dry" and "Self Avoiding Random Walk." Steve mostly did the vocals, and I was immediately impressed with Steve's bass playing right from the first note. It's really incredible how only drums and bass can sound so amazing. Before too long I was totally immersed in the music.
The first set went on for about and hour and half. One of my favorite songs of the evening was a cover version of "Hang On Sloopy." After seeing Steve perform his own music, I can't help but think Al is under using Steve. I thought I was amazed at how well Steve plays songs live at an Al concert, but after seeing him perform live on his own, there's only one word for it -- WOW! Al is missing a golden opportunity by not showcasing Steve more on his albums or in concert.
The intermission gave us a chance to chat with Richard, Racheal and Blaine. But we remained invisible to everyone else as Steve and Pete greeted everybody at every table except ours.
For the second set, Steve invited up Jim West, Weird Al's guitar player. Jim joined Steve and Pete on guitar. Steve stood back and let Jim shine for this set. There were quite a few guitar solos, and there was one guitar solo during the next to last song that I'm still thinking about. I was really impressed. It was at that point I said to myself, "These guys are incredible. They sound great." At this point I also realized that Al is under using Jim as well. Jim is every bit as talented as Steve, and either could have had a successful solo career. I'll never look at these guys the same way again. Hats off to the three guys on stage that night. I was surprisingly and completely impressed.
The second set lasted about 45 minutes. After the second set was over, Amanda and I must have become visible again, because Steve stopped at our table and thanked us for coming. He was so happy to see everyone there. I asked him if he had any T-shirts for sale. He said he did, and said to hold on a minute, then he ran off and got Pete.
Steve introduced us to Pete and Pete told us that he had lots of brand new T-shirt designs in lots of colors upstairs. Pete also thanked us for coming and them asked how the show sounded. I told him it sounded great. He then asked us if we were going to any other shows and we told him we'd be in Westbury for Al's shows. We chatted a little bit about what it was like being a drum tech for Al's tour, but Pete had friends and family to get back to, so he politely excused himself.
Amanda and I decided to leave at that point so we quickly made our rounds and said hello to everyone we hadn't chatted with yet, and said goodbye to Steve and Jim, who were now hanging around a table in the corner with most of the people at the show.
I stopped and picked up a grey T-shirt and a white T-shirt for myself, and another white T-shirt for a friend, and as we were walking out, I saw Rubén Valtierra, Al's keyboard player walking in.
I later learned Ak & Zuie were asked to perform another set. And when I saw Steve at the Westbury shows, he let me know that B.B. King's was so impressed, they invited them back to perform, and another place in The City was interested in them as well. That's really great, because I'm anxious to see them perform again. I'm going to make every effort to attend when they come back.
You can click on the highlighted words above and below to see more concert photos.