ZZ Top Playing at the Morris
| Tuesday, September 8, 2009
ZZ Top, the legendary Texan blues-rock band, will perform at the Morris Performing Arts Center this Wednesday evening.
ZZ Top has been playing together for 40 years and is one of the few active classic rock bands that still consist of the original band line-up. The trio of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Early in his career, Gibbons used to play with Jimi Hendrix, who named Gibbons one of his own favorite guitarists.
Over their four decades, ZZ Top has journeyed all the way from roots rock to electronically-tinged synth rock and back again.
After forming in late 1969, the band achieved fame in the 1970s with their relatively simple, guitar-bass-drums approach to the blues. Their songs could have comprised the soundtrack for a Hell’s Angels lifestyle of cars, booze, and girls. The band reinforced this Texas-biker image by wearing black leather, cowboy hats, sunglasses, and later, chest-length beards (ironically, Frank Beard is the only member without a beard). In 1984, the Gillette Company reportedly offered Gibbons and Hill a million dollars each to shave their beards in a television commercial, but they declined, stating, “We’re too ugly without them.”
During the 1980s, like almost every other band, they began to experiment more with electronic effects and synthesizers, crafting a new sound that blended their good-times Texas rock with eighties pop. They embraced MTV and produced a series of hit music videos featuring a cherry 1933 Ford Coupe hot rod and a trio of nameless babes. Their most popular album to date, “Eliminator,” comes from this era.
The band eventually began turn back to their original, more minimal blues-rock sound in the 1990s. They have received numerous accolades and honors for their contribution to American music, but more importantly, they can boast a cameo as the folk-rock band playing at the wild west carnival in “Back to the Future Part III.”
At the concert in the Morris on Wednesday, fans can probably expect to hear a repertoire of ZZ Top’s hits from all eras, including perennial favorites such as “La Grange,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Cheap Sunglasses.” The opening act will be the Sulentic Brothers Band, a seven-person Southern rock ensemble. They hail from South Bend and have been together for sixteen years.
This is a chance to see one of the longest-running and finest blues-rock bands in existence – it’s a truly American experience. Given the complete lack of A-list music acts on campus in recent years, students should jump at this chance. Tickets for the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m., are still available on the Morris Web site, over the phone or at the door of the venue.
The Morris is also asking concertgoers to bring non-perishable food items for donation to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, which is currently facing unprecedented need.