NEPA Scene Staff

Get off your ‘Tush’ to see ZZ Top play at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on Feb. 28

Get off your ‘Tush’ to see ZZ Top play at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on Feb. 28
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

From a press release:

It was announced today that Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top, “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas” known for hits like “Sharp Dressed Man,” “La Grange,” “Tush,” “Legs,” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” will perform at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 at 8 p.m.

Tickets, which are $69 for reserved seating or $75 for the pit (standing room only), go on sale this Friday, Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. and will be available at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Penn’s Peak box office (325 Maury Rd., Jim Thorpe), and Roadies Restaurant and Bar (325 Maury Rd., Jim Thorpe). Penn’s Peak box office and Roadies Restaurant ticket sales are walk-up only; no phone orders.

ZZ Top lays the undisputed claim to being the longest running major rock band with original personnel intact and, in 2004, the Texas trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, there are only three of them – Billy F. Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard – but it’s still a remarkable achievement that they’re still very much together after more than 45 years of rock, blues, and boogie on the road and in the studio.

“Yeah,” says Gibbons, guitarist extraordinaire, “we’re the same three guys, bashing out the same three chords.”

With the release of each of their albums, the band has explored new ground in terms of both their sonic approach and the material they’ve recorded. ZZ Top is the same, but always changing.

ZZ Top’s career retrospective, “The Very Baddest,” was released in 2014. It spans the entire course of their London, Warner Bros., and RCA years. Listeners can follow the evolution of the band’s sound from the early ’70s into the ’00s on either a 40-track double CD or a 20-track single CD. That same year, Eagle Rock Entertainment released “Live at Montreux 2013” on both Blu-ray and DVD formats, showcasing their live act and leaving no doubt as to why they have been such a huge concert draw for the last several decades. When it comes to the live experience, they’ve still got it.

2016 saw the release of ZZ Top’s “Live! Greatest Hits from Around the World” album on Suretone, consisting of 15 songs recorded live in 13 cities across three continents. Guitar legend Jeff Beck joins the band on stage in his native London for two songs – “Rough Boy,” and a cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons,” the latter of which was inspired by a hoax YouTube video claiming to be ZZ Top and Jeff Beck playing that very song. Their rendition matches the hoax video, in what Billy describes as “a mega meta kinda thang.”

The elements that keep ZZ Top fresh, enduring and above the transitory fray, can be summed up in the three words of the band’s internal mantra: “Tone, Taste, and Tenacity.” Of course, the three members of the band have done their utmost to do their part in assuring that ZZ Top prevails.

As genuine roots musicians, the members of the band have few peers. Gibbons is widely regarded as one of America’s finest blues guitarists working in the rock idiom. His influences are both the originators of the form – Muddy Waters, B.B. King, et al – as well as the British blues rockers who emerged the generation before ZZ’s ascendance. In his early days of playing, no less an idol that Jimi Hendrix singled him out for praise. Part mad scientist, part prankster, he’s a musical innovator of the highest order and a certified “guitar god.” He’s a recurring small screen presence in the hit TV series “Bones” in which he plays a bearded, gruff rock guitarist; no type casting problems for him.

Hill has long had an affinity for rock’s origins; his earliest performances as a child included Elvis songs convincingly performed. Not only is he a bass virtuoso in his own right, his vocal prowess is awe-inspiring. He’s the lead voice you hear on “Tush” and his ferocious vocals are heard, to great effect, on his idol Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock,” these days, often a concert encore number and recorded by the band on “Fandango!” Good-natured and diligent, Hill is the rock solid bottom of ZZ Top.

Beard has also been keeping the beat in that great tradition. As both a roots and progressive drummer, he has been acknowledged as key to the band’s powerful on-stage and in-studio presence. He and Hill, in their early years together, served as Lightnin’ Hopkins’ rhythm section which, as Beard tells it, was a life-changing experience. Beard, despite his last name, is the guy in the band without a beard. But when you’re with him, you’re with a Beard. He’s a rockin’ paradox who provides the pulse of ZZ Top.

ZZ Top’s music is always instantly recognizable, eminently powerful, profoundly soulful, and 100 percent Texas American in derivation. The band’s support for the blues is unwavering, both as interpreters of the music and preservers of its legacy. It was ZZ Top that celebrated “founding father” Muddy Waters by turning a piece of scrap timber than had fallen from his sharecropper’s shack into a beautiful guitar, dubbed the “Muddywood.” This totem was sent on tour as a fundraising focus for the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi, site of Robert Johnson’s famed “Crossroads” encounter with the devil.

ZZ Top’s support and link to the blues remains as rock solid as the music they continue to play. They have sold millions of records over the course of their career, have been officially designated as Heroes of the State of Texas, have been referenced in countless cartoons and sitcoms, and are true rock icons but, against all odds, they’re really just doing what they’ve always done. They’re real, they’re surreal, and they’re ZZ Top.