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The Moving Sidewalks Mix Past, Present and Hendrix in New York City

Moving Sidewalks
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It was the night before Easter on 42nd Street in New York City…..Lord have mercy. We were about to hear and see Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top reunite with his previous band, the Moving Sidewalks.

BB King’s was packed with fans, and by the look on most faces they were excited and at the same time, not sure what to expect. 44 years later and finally this band would enjoy a Big Apple debut. Suddenly, the time machine landed and it was clear we were about to go for a ride….

Gibbons walked out on stage and declared, “It’s true….we’re back”. He and his hombres launched into a slow-burning boogie woogie Texas blues number ala Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Straight out of the gate, it was clear that Gibbons was into mashing up his fat guitar tone with the organ and keyboard sounds that Tom Moore was laying down. That interplay ran through the set and revealed the swampy, psychedelic R&B blues vibe that this band is all about.

Billy and bassist Don Summers played custom, cream Fenders with inset screens flashing through multiple psychedelic patterns, a modern twist for four dudes from Texas in their sixties. By the third tune, ‘What You Gonna Do,’ Billy’s roots — and by extension, the roots of ZZ Top — were showing. He laid down his thick tone with style and taste on top of the even keeled chugging of a rhythm section, which was rolling along like an old Buick Skylark. Not too fast, not too slow. Just cruising.

It wasn’t long before the Moving Sidewalks were ready to pay homage to a man who may have been their greatest influence…Jimi Hendrix. After a Flying V bass was brought out for Don Summers, ‘Foxy Lady’ got the crowd grooving. Another Hendrix cover, ‘Red House,’ made sure the Moving Sidewalks fully owned the crowd. Gibbons explained the sudden tribute — “Jimi taught us half of what we know” — and talked about their time playing gigs with the guitar legend in Texas, referring to Hendrix as a “genteel man.”

While watching this set, it becomes clear that Billy Gibbons can’t be contained in a box. He is the blues and he’s rock and he’s Texas all wrapped up in that famous thin frame with the long beard and the cheap sunglasses. He’s an American treasure. And, yet, he’s a team player. There he was on stage with the old team from his teenage years, helping them to finally realize the teenage dreams he’s been enjoying for the last four decades.

The songs roll on, with ‘Flash’ from the first record a clear highlight. We get a version of ‘Wild Thing’ to close the set that features Gibbons slipping in a ‘Strangers In The Night’ lick. They come back out to encore with another burning Hendrix cover (‘If 6 was 9′), and cap it all off with a slow, psychedelic cover of the Beatles‘ ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ 80 minutes have passed and the magic carpet drops us back into reality.

The Moving Sidewalks are not ZZ Top. No Dusty, no Frank. The Moving Sidewalks have not been playing together for 44 years…..and that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter that the band is not a well oiled, arena rock machine. They were real dudes from Texas playing the best show of their lives.

Next: Top 10 ZZ Top Songs

Watch the Moving Sidewalks Perform ‘You Make Me Shake’ in NYC

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