ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 15, 1993
The first time I saw Rick Derringer play live was back in ’73 or something, when me and a bunch of high-school pals from Chilliwack loaded into a van and drove to the Pacific Coliseum to see the Edgar Winter Group and opening act UFO. This was at the peak of Winter’s popularity, back when the instrumental “Frankenstein” was a monster hit and Derringer’s co-guitarist in the band was none other than Ronnie Montrose.
Needless to say, the show was a killer, and I can still picture myself crammed up at the front of the stage, fist pounding air, while the diminutive blond Derringer lived up to his guitar-hero status.
Derringer’s gained a few wrinkles and more than a few pounds since those lean, mean glory days, but as soon as he launched into “Still Alive & Well” at the Lunatic Fringe last Friday (October 8) it was obvious that his fingers were still in fine shape. He was joined by a group that included former Molly Hatchet bassist David Weygandt, drummer David Presley (related to you-know-who and third cousin to Andy Griffith), and Derringer’s wife Dyan on backing vocals, tambourine, and motivation. Clad in hot-pants and high boots, the slim Mrs. Derringer danced up a storm throughout and made sure hubby’s flying fingers weren’t the only attraction of the night.
“What the hell is this bass noise goin’ on?” Derringer asked when the sound of downstairs band Love Junction started booming through the floor. “How are we supposed to play some pretty music with this shit goin’ on?” But he managed to overcome the low-end rumble during an extended instrumental called “Rhapsody in Red”, during which Weygandt proved himself to be a virtuoso soloist along the lines of Stu Hamm by incorporating neat little bits of “Yesterday” and the Pink Panther theme into his neck-tapping display.
Near the end of his set, Derringer travelled way back to 1965 for the sing-along fave “Hang on Sloopy”, a hit by his first band, the McCoys. His signature tune, “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo”, was next, followed by a few teaser riffs from “Free Ride” and a new tune dedicated to Jimi Hendrix.