Little Feat remains a traveler on the "Proud Highway"
Little Feat (from left, Richie Hayward, Kenny Gradney, Fred Tackett, Paul Barrere, Sam Clayton and Bill Payne) returns to Penn's Peak on Saturday night.
Little Feat has long been a traveler on what its members refer to as "The Proud Highway".
The band that was home to the late Lowell George has proven to be a true road warrior, bringing its uniquely American mix of rock, blues, funk, folk, jazz, swamp boogie and country to a loyal following.
Little Feat has made Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe a frequent stop on its annual concert tours, and it returns there on Saturday night for the first time since December, 2008.
Little Feat originated in Los Angeles in 1969. The original members were George, bass player Roy Estrada, keyboard player Bill Payne and drummer Richie Hayward. George and Estrada had been members of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.
Payne and Haywood remain with Little Feat to this day, as does a trio which came aboard in 1972: guitarist Paul Barrere, bassist Kenny Gradney and percussionist Sam Clayton.
George, who was the band's frontman and chief songwriter, died in 1979 while working on Little Feat's Down on the Farm album, but his spirit still lives on through the band, which continues to perform many of George's best known songs.
During the 70's, Little Feat produced a rich variety of material, including trucker anthem "Willin'", "Dixie Chicken", "Fat Man in the Bathtub", "Sailin' Shoes", "Rock and Roll Doctor", "All That You Dream", "Oh, Atlanta", "Easy to Slip" and "Time Loves a Hero". Its double live album, Waiting For Columbus, is considered one of the classics of the live recording genre.
Little Feat went on hiatus after George's death, with its members keeping busy doing recording sessions work. The band reformed in 1988, with vocalist Craig Fuller, formerly of the Pure Prairie League, and guitarist/trumpet player Fred Tackett, joining the group for its Let It Roll album.
That line-up remained the same until 1993, when Fuller left and was replaced by female vocalist Shaun Murphy, who added her strong, bluesy singing to the band's musical mix. Little Feat remained a seven-piece band until last year, when it parted ways with Murphy, but the rest of the group is intact.
The Feat is well known for its improvisational concert work and was a jam band well before that musical movement had a name for it. Extended workouts on Feat standards like "Dixie Chicken" are what its fans have come to expect.
The band has also formed its own record label, Hot Tomato Records, and has released several live recordings on it, as well as diving into its archives for two rarities albums, Raw Tomatoes and Ripe Tomatoes. The label is also the home of solo recordings of band members Tackett (A Town Like This) and Payne (Cielo Norte).
Little Feat's last studio album was 2008's Join The Band, on which it teamed with some of its musical friends, including Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews, Bob Seger, Bela Fleck, Brooks and Dunn and Mike Gordon (Phish).
Tickets for Little Feat at Penn's Peak on Saturday, July 31 are $27 in advance and $32 the day of the show for general admission seating. Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.com, at Ticketmaster outlets including Boscov's and Gallery of Sound, and at the Penn's Peak box office and Roadies Restaurant. Call (866) 605-7325 for information.