Fresh off a return from Jamaica where they performed with Little Feat, guitarists Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett resumed their perpetual tour as a duo of traveling troubadours. In the past six months, teamed with Feat bassist Kenny Gradney, the two made a few electrified area appearances but not since a 2014 visit to Santa Monica has the Paul and Fred acoustic show headlined in the Los Angeles-metro district. Given the Feat’s local history, not to mention being home for the pair, the near-four-year absence was much too long for the anxious, intimate audience at the Rose. And, then, they had to wait just a little longer.
Barrere and Tackett ambled onstage in contrasting style- Barrere in a dark sport coat; Tackett in checkered flannel. But, before they could play a note, faulty patch cords had to be swapped out to amplify Barrere’s guitar. “We just got back from Jamaica, so we’re moving a little slow,” he quipped. “I see The Rose is moving a little slow, too.”
Problem solved and off they went, launching a sprightly “Ain’t Had Enough Fun,” then a chunky “Honest Man,” with Barrere’s slide whining the blues against Tackett’s riverbed soul. On Little Feat’s “Rocket in My Pocket,” Tackett shifted to mandolin, bringing a tasty swing to the bop, then dropping glistening cascades on Hank Williams’ “Lonesome Whistle.” After Barrere recalled a decades-ago performance for his daughter’s third-grade class in which he had to edit some of the lyrics, the duo delivered the unaltered “Sailin’ Shoes,” and its daydreams of cocaine trees.
A now-standard medley followed, with Feat’s ode to truckers, “Willin’,” leading into “Don’t Bogart that Joint,” “Long Black Veil,” and The Band’s “The Weight,” encouraging the Rose crowd to join in and sing along. The pair of latter-day Feat entries- Tackett’s “Church Falling Down,” and Barrere’s “Clownin,”- played to their author’s signatures: the former, slow and swampy; the latter loaded with start-stop guitar chops. Yet, the highlight of the evening came next. Offered with more restraint and calm than the recorded version, Barrere and Tackett spun magic on “All That You Dream,” unearthing a depth to the old Feat nugget that exemplified the aging grace of both the song and the duo.
The greased-up groove of “Down on the Farm” into the playful “Candyman” raised the spirits before an extended “Dixie Chicken” encouraged clap-along participation through the swelling guitar breaks, closing the show. Barrere and Tackett remained for the encore, choosing to avoid the customary walk-off and return. Bringing the seated to their feet with (what else than) “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” the hardwood slab of dance floor got a polish before the gentle slumber of “And We Bid You Goodnight” from the Grateful Dead drew the final curtain on a dignified and loose, formal and funky evening with Paul and Fred.