James McCartney Band in Concert
Field report by Sue Walker

On Saturday, November 14, Beatle Brunch field reporter Sue Walker travelled to Fairfield, Iowa to see James (not "James Paul") McCartney's US debut as part of the "David Lynch Weekend" at the Maharishi University of Management. Lynch, of course, reunited Paul & Ringo on the concert stage earlier this year, to highlight his foundation's trancendental meditation ("TM") mission . Here's Sue's exclusive "on the scene" report:

Teaming up at the university with fellow Brunchers Teresa, Mary Jane and Cindy, our arrival coincided with that of the legendary Donovan (who was on the bill with Paul & Ringo at the TM show), looking rather like a professor at Hogwarts, who was crossing the street and heading into one of the campus buildings.

Two shows were scheduled at the downtown Sondheim Center, a very small and intimate theatre, the first for prospective students and the second for the general public. The Beach Boys performed there recently (as Mike Love is a devout TM champion). Although we aren't prospective students, we were able to score tickets for both shows. David Lynch came out and immediately announced James McCartney by commenting on how difficult it is to be the son of a very famous man and quipped that his (Lynch's) father was Elvis Presley. While we had heard James' band was called "Light", Lynch introduced them as the "James McCartney Band".

James was dressed in jeans and a red v-neck tshirt and wore a crucifix around his neck, while his band members all wore black shirts. Playing a Fender Stratocaster guitar, he announced each song before playing but it was very difficult to understand him. The songs sounded a bit "alternative" to my ears. My college-aged son, watching one of the You Tube videos later, commented that his sound reminded him of the Gin Blossoms, and "90s" guitar, and he thought they were quite good. James has a strong, rather high voice which I found to be pleasing. The lyrics, from what we could understand, sounded personal in content. Some of the song titles included "Angel", "Denial". and "Spirit Guide", with James playing keyboards on the latter. One song reminded me a little bit of "Back to the Egg" era Wings. Unlike his dad, James maintained little eye contact with the audience and appeared uncomfortable during the first of two 40-minute sets. The four of us all thought his second show was better and he added a few different songs which were more melodic. The audience at both shows were very appreciative, with the first mostly-student audience more so. While we did not wear any Beatles attire out of respect for James' individuality, we did see one woman wearing a few Beatles pins, but otherwise there was none.

The second act at both shows, Laura Dawn and The Little Death, was a high energy rock/blues/boogie woogie band. Dawn, her backup singers (The Deaththreats) and her band put on a great show. Donovan appeared last, preceded by a short film about his legacy. He played two songs alone, then the Little Death came back onstage to provide backup for hits such as "Season of the Witch" (the highlight), "Hurdy Gurdy Man", "Sunshine Superman", and "Mellow Yellow". James came back onstage to assist with the backup singing on "Mellow Yellow" and he smiled and appeared much more relaxed at this point. Donavan did a little "witchy" dance on "Season of the Witch" and was in good voice and was quite entertaining. Despite a few technical glitches during his set at the second show, such as Laura Dawn's microphone not working and a minute or so of annoying guitar feedback, all in all it was a great show.

- Sue Walker


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On a personal level, the four of us happened to be in a coffee shop/bookstore/restaurant the next day and noticed James, Donovan and Lynch having lunch at a large table full of people. As the group was breaking up we managed to have a short conversation with James. He was genuine and just plain nice. We managed to avoid saying or asking anything about his father or asking for a picture or autograph. It just didn't feel right to do so, and when he was leaving the restaurant, he turned and waved and said goodbye to us. It appears that Paul and Linda raised a good kid and we wish him "All The Best" with his musical career.