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Blog: Liam Ford Band brings rockabilly sound to MKE

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The Liam Ford Band has been through a few incarnations since 2006 when the band took root. Frontman Liam is still at the helm, as is otherworldly lead guitar player Frank Calarco. Originally, the rhythm section was comprised of Frank’s brother John on the drums and rotating bass players. Eventually, bass player Jeff Hoorman stepped in to stay. John has since moved on to other projects, and he was replaced by popular local stickman Andy Pagel on the skins.

They shortened the name “Liam Ford and the Band in Black” in recent years, and they remain a tight unit of seasoned musicians. Liam Ford is a rockabilly band to be sure, but they have many tricks up their sleeves in their set lists. On a typical night, you can hear the likes of Ringo Starr, Geraint Watkins, The Mavericks, The Stray Cats, The Clash; even Tom Waits. Some of their fun and moody instrumentals include the theme songs to “The Munsters,” and “Experiment in Terror.”

Of course there is also their repertoire of Johnny Cash covers. Yes, everyone seems to love the man in black and Liam Ford does one of the best tributes that you can see in the area. That was on tap first up at the Domes on Thursday evening to set the mood. They have played this gig before, and the crowd loves it. Everyone is moved to get up and dance to the tunes of “Orange Blossom Special,” “I Never Picked Cotton,” and “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky.”

Much to my delight, they also cover Cash’s later work, which included provocative versions of “Hurt,” by Nine Inch Nails, and “Rusty Cage,” by Soundgarden. Liam certainly has the vocal chops to do all the tunes justice, and he resembles a young Tommy Lee Jones on stage. The other bandmates tease him about it. Calarco looks like your science teacher, and is in fact one by day for MPS. But when he lets loose on his guitar, in particular on the Link Wray number, “Rumble,” it is a treat to just stand back and watch him do his thing.

Hoorman plays a striking upright electric bass and Andy Pagel is the Keith Moon clown on the drums. He is often cracking jokes between sets and inviting the audience to “have a drink with the band!” One of their show highlights was when Liam and Andy performed a wild drum duet in the midst of “Orange Blossom Special.”

All in all, this band will show you a good time. They know each other well and are comfortable together on stage, and it shows. There’s a reason that they are frequently booked at people’s weddings and private parties, and have been nominated for WAMIs and won on more than one occasion. To find out when they’re playing next, look them up on their Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Liam-Ford-Band/178031518297

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