Make us your home page
Instagram

Lucero's new LP looks at dark and light side of being in love

Bassist John C. Stubblefield says he’s still baffled by the crowds that Lucero draws. Maybe it’s the music?

Nicole C. Kibert photo

Bassist John C. Stubblefield says he’s still baffled by the crowds that Lucero draws. Maybe it’s the music?

"Jack Pirtle's is where you go for fried chicken around there."

That's what John C. Stubblefield told tbt* last Wednesday as he checked in from a tour bus headed east from Phoenix back towards his hometown of Memphis, Tenn. The bass player for fast-rising alt-country outfit Lucero is likely 40 years old ("I was born in '75," is all he would surrender) and is responding to a query regarding River City spots to get hot chicken, a Nashville-famous dish that finds the bird doused in a perfectly seasoned, über-spicy batter.

He goes on to name a few tried and true stops, plus the nuances of their hot chicken offerings, but the details get lost in a wonky cellphone connection and Stubblefield's thick, gentlemanly corn-fried drawl, which he's probably acquired from countless nights playing rock 'n' roll in scores of Southern bars with good booze and decent-at-best PA systems. Lucero are taking a short break for Thanksgiving, and they've just completed a two-week swing through Oklahoma, Utah and the west coast. Before that it was a month-long jog up the Eastern seaboard, Canada and the Midwest. They picked it back up on Thursday in Ponte Vedra, and will romp around the South for the rest of 2016 before restarting the machine in February for a swing through the United Kingdom.

Not bad for a group of dudes who, more than a decade ago, started out playing country songs to punk kids in clubs that sometimes only had a dozen people in the crowd.

The guys — guitarist Brian Venable, keys guru Rick Steff, and drummer Roy Berry — arrive at The Ritz in Ybor City on Saturday with Lucero frontman Ben Nichols leading the charge. Nichols, 41, let his heart bleed on the band's new LP, All a Man Should Do. The title is borrowed from a lyric in I'm in Love With a Girl, the closer on Big Star's 1974 masterpiece Radio City. Lucero covers that heart-breaking ballad toward the end of I'm in Love. Big Star are fellow Memphis-dwellers, and drummer Jody Stephens contributes backing vocals on the cover.

Stubblefield admits that Big Star are one of the bands that can still make him shed tears. He didn't admit to crying when Nichols turned in songs for the new album, but a feeling of pride and love is almost tangible even through the muddy cell connection.

"He's growing up," Stubblefield says of his longtime friend.

Most, if not everything, Nichols records is written in first person. Different relationships are explored on the latest set, and Stubblefield says Nichols really exposed the dark and light sides of everything he's been through on I'm in Love.

Critics agree, calling the collection everything from a meditation to a paradox. The Memphis horns Lucero poured heavy on 2009's 1372 Overton Park get reined in to great effect on new songs like I Woke Up in New Orleans, and album closer My Girl & Me in '93 is a tear-jerking, middle-aged look back at the art of f--king up.

The album is a roller coaster, but fans will be ready to ride it on Saturday when Lucero works through a two-hour, career-spanning set split into acoustic and electric sets. Stubblefield says he still feels baffled by the crowds that show up to watch his band play and isn't taking anything for granted.

"[Of course] we're happy for Ben when the albums are done," he said. He goes on to talk about the cycle of taking them on the road, about what it looks like from the stage every night.

"It's amazing, the fans know all the new tunes," he explained. "They sing along to them as much as the old ones. It's been awesome."

If you go

Lucero

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Tampa

Tickets: $22

Lucero's new LP looks at dark and light side of being in love 12/01/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2015 3:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bar review: Les Partners Lounge goes old-school in Clearwater

    Bars & Spirits

    There are some local places that I'm shocked aren't more well known, and I think that's the result of a general aversion to stepping out of one's comfort zone. I make regular concerted efforts to step outside of mine, which often leads me to strange and rewarding drinking establishments.

    Les Partners Lounge is an old-school, smoker-friendly cocktail lounge and live music venue tucked away in a nondescript shopping plaza in Island Estates.
  2. Local craft beer of the week: Plongeur a L'eponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. has a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to wild ale brewing, utilizing an open brewing approach involving uncovered fermenters in order to brew beer with local ambient microbes, reminiscent in some ways to the fermentation techniques used by rustic farmhouse breweries in Belgium …

     Plongeur a?€š€™L?ˆš??ponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, 6/23/17  Electric Chair Sour Shandy, Angry Chair Brewing, 6/30/17   Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Motorworks Brewing 7/7/17
  3. ‘80s acts dominate lineup of 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

    Blogs

    Oh, yes. Christmas is coming early this year to ‘80s fans in Florida. Disney’s Epcot Center has announced the lineup to its “Eat to the Beat” concert series that coincides with their annual International Food & Wine Festival.

  4. Equality Florida leader honored at Tampa U2 concert

    Briefs

    TAMPA — Equality Florida director Nadine Smith couldn't attend last week's U2 concert in Tampa, but she can tell you which of her friends had great seats for the June 14 show at Raymond James Stadium.

    Nadine Smith, Equality Florida founder and CEO, received a unique distinction last week when U2 included her in a montage of photos saluting activism and women leaders.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23

    Events

    Leslie Odom Jr.: A solo concert by the Broadway star who won a Tony for his performance as Aaron Burr in Hamilton. 7 p.m., Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35.50-$55.50. (813) 229-7827.

    Leslie Odom Jr. accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical in "Hamilton"  during the 70th Annual Tony Awards  on June 12, 2016.  (Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)