Back in 1964, the always modest Jerry Lee Lewis titled an album recorded in front of 10,000 screaming fans in Alabama “The Greatest Live Show on Earth.”
Saturday, Jason D. Williams will do his level best to match The Killer’s classic show at the Zoo Bar — and he’s likely to pull it off.
A pumpin’ piano wildman, Williams channels — and covers — Jerry Lee along with the great country boogie-woogie pianist Moon Mullican and blues pianist Memphis Slim, delivering country, blues, boogie-woogie and, above all, rock ‘n’ roll.
And he’s not at all ashamed at being tagged the second coming of Lewis, or a throwback to when pianos ruled rock ‘n’ roll — “I’ve always welcomed the comparisons, my influences were some of the greatest entertainers ever to be seen,” he says on his website.
Williams cut his rock ‘n’ roll teeth playing with (literal) rockabilly giant Sleepy LaBeef before moving to Memphis and going solo in the ’80s. He cut an album for major label RCA, made some discs for the revived Sun Records — where Jerry Lee recorded in the ‘50s — and has been consistently recording and touring for the last couple of decades.
His most recent album, 2014’s “Hillbillies and Holy Rollers,” finds him putting his stamp on the likes of Joe Ely’s “Fingernails” (“I keep my fingernails long so they click when I play the piano”), the boogie-woogie classic “House of Blue Lights” and “You Win Again,” which sounds far different than the version Jerry Lee did in the ‘70s.
Williams has never disappointed live. And you won’t come closer to real rock ‘n’ roll than at the Zoo on Saturday.
Tickets for Williams’ 6 p.m. show are $17 in advance, $22 day of show. Advance tickets are available at zoobar.com.
Paul McCartney to play Omaha
Paul McCartney is returning to Nebraska almost three years to the date that he delivered a three-hour, never-took-a-drink performance at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
This time, McCartney is playing Omaha’s CenturyLink Center Sunday night on his “One on One Tour” that has run, off and on, for over a year and taken the indefatigable Beatle to Europe, Japan and around the U.S.
McCartney, who turned 75 last month, appears to still be playing shows that run about three hours — setlists for his recent American shows list 38 to 40 songs a night. And, like at his Pinnacle show, those sets include Beatles songs and solo material, including Wings tunes.
A midweek check at Ticketmaster found tickets still available for Sunday’s show. They’re not cheap — the lowest price offered was $165 plus fees.
It would be interesting to know how many Lincolnites make the trip to catch Sir Paul in Omaha. I’m guessing that most of the 12,000 plus who packed PBA got their McCartney fix in 2014 and won’t be taking in the Omaha show.
A quick aside — Sunday’s concert is another confirmation of the notion that artists will play both Lincoln and Omaha arenas, sometimes within a few months as will be the case when Tim McGraw and Faith Hill play the CenturyLink Center in September after having played PBA in May, and sometimes on new tours a year or two apart, a la McCartney.
McCartney’s show comes early in a big run of CenturyLink Center concerts. Friday, Nickelback will perform at the Omaha arena. Lady Antebellum is set for an Aug. 4 show there and Shawn Mendes will play the next night. Green Day is slated for an Aug. 12 show, Coldplay on Aug. 14 and Lady Gaga on Aug. 19.