Margo Price, JD McPherson, Webb Wilder celebrate Sam Phillips at Country Music Hall
We lost Sam Phillips in 2003, but his spirit filled the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Saturday. Margo Price, JD McPherson, Webb Wilder and the Planet Rockers showcased the Sun Records sound with songs from the label and some original tunes that were clearly inspired by Phillips’ work. Webb Wilder opened the show with two tracks from his pivotal “It Came From Nashville” LP and a raucous cover of “Ubangi Stomp.” McPherson offered up some Junior Parker and Charlie Rich, closing with his Sun-fueled ‘North Side Gal.” Margo Price, who recorded her current album at Sun Studios, sang Johnny Cash’s “Big River” and bent the “rules” a bit by doing a Billy Swan-inspired cover of “Don’t Be Cruel,” Elvis’ first RCA single after leaving Sun. The afternoon’s biggest surprise came with a guest appearance by Sam Phillips’ son Jerry, all decked out in a red suit and a rockabilly attitude. His “Never Too Short to Rock” was great fun. Backing up most of the artists and offering up a spirited set of their own were the Planet Rockers. The energetic afternoon closed with all of the artists returning to the stage for a finale of Carl Perkins’ “Boppin’ the Blues.” It was an extraordinary 90 minutes and a testament to the power and passion of Sam Phillips. The Hall of Fame’s exhibit “Flying Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips” closes on June 12. Highly recommended.