Pat McGee Band at the Birchmere

Last night I went to the Birchmere to see the latest iteration of the Pat McGee Band, which now only has the percussionist and Pat out of the original members. Original drummer Chris Williams died a year ago, and Chris Bashista has now joined (significant because he played drums along with Eddie Hartness on Pat’s solo CD). Crix Reardon had replaced John Small on bass, but I heard rumors of a fight and there was a new bassist on stage, leaving only Chardy McEwan on percussion and longtime guitarist Brian Fechino. I came to Wednesday’s show (they’re playing tonight as well) to see Todd Wright open with a solo set (he was joined by “Jerry”, a guitarist), which was pretty good, but I was surprised when he came out to play keys with the Pat McGee Band. Not shocked, as he’d done it from 2003 to 2005 when original keyboardist Jonathan Williams left, but Jonathan’s absence wasn’t mentioned.

Still, for a band in transition they were in usual tight form, likely due to them nearing the end of a grueling two month tour with Josh Kelley. Speaking of transition, Josh Kelley was playing with a completely different band than he brought to this year’s Herndon Festival, but they were also pretty funky (I just could not get past his winter look – very full beard). But it was a homecoming for the Pat McGee Band, with lots of good song choices, including old chestnut “Ceamelodic”, dedicated to the song’s backing vocalist on record, Julie Murphy Wells, because her dad was there (I didn’t see him, or I would have said hi – hopefully I’ll see him this weekend). Weird cover of the night: Neil Diamond’s “Forever In Blue Jeans” (and marks the second show in a row at the Birchmere with a Neil Diamond cover. It was also fun to see my friends Linda and Jolene, who surprised me with a birthday gift of blank CDs and CD cases (how did they know?).