Legendary Spinal Tap bassist Derek Smalls has returned to the stage this year. He is currently in the middle of his Lukewarm Water Live! tour. It has continues through November with shows at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, Moore Theater in Seattle, The Vogue Theatre in Vancouver, and The Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. Smalls is being accompanied by an all-star band during the tour with the likes of Steve Vai and Dweezil Zappa joining him, as well as a full symphony orchestra, and special guests (albeit live via satellite).
In an interview with Paste Magazine Smalls discussed how the tour came to fruition. “I’ve been waiting patiently for the band to reform and that’s not going to happen, so I saw this advert from the British Fund for Aging Rockers, which apparently uses the money left over from austerity to give money to aging rockers, hence the name,” Smalls elaborated. “I applied and they said ‘What’s your idea?’ and I said ‘My idea is that you give me money and I make a record.’ And that turned out to be the magic words that opened the door.”
That opened door resulted in Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing). It is Small’s debut solo album, which was released in April of last year. Helping out the legendary bassist with the album were, among others, the Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, Dweezil Zappa, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Said album, in turn, opened the door for Smalls’ successful Lukewarm Water Live!.
Spinal Tap’s Enduring Legacy
The fact that Smalls can still draw large crowds is testament to Spinal Tap’s enduring legacy. And that’s a big deal nowadays, when rock and roll is, according to Smalls “still relevant but not dominant.” Even now, in fact, rock-centric docu-dramas like Stadium Anthems are inevitably compared to This Is Spinal Tap, the classic 1984 mockumentary that satirizes the excesses of being in a rock band. In addition, Spinal Tap have been able to stay relevant in the digital age even penetrating the gaming industry. Alongside appearing on Rock Band, they have also joined other music legends by having a slot title on Foxy Games. The game pays tribute to the band’s over-the-top style of performing — a Spinal Tap hallmark that has endeared the band to their legions of fans. Nowadays, these same fans continue to support Spinal Tap, and they now have a range of ways to do so. Importantly the band’s strong media presence is introducing them to younger fans on the lookout for old-school rock and roll and new musical idols.
Smalls Reunites with St. Hubbins and Tufnel… For a Night
The highlight of Smalls’ busy year on stage has without doubt been his Lukewarm Water Live! tour. But back in April he got to share the stage again with his Spinal Tap bandmates David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel. Variety reports that the eagerly anticipated reunion marked the 35th anniversary of This Is Spinal Tap at the Tribeca Film Festival. The trio showcased their hits via an all-acoustic set. The three, with special guest Elvis Costello, even gave the audience a rousing rendition of “Gimme Some Money” — a beloved Spinal Tap classic before the band’s This Is Spinal Tap days.
The reunion proved to be a one-off. But that hasn’t stopped Smalls from continuing his own solo career. He has returned to the stage this year, and will likely keep playing live for the foreseeable future.
Header image: @schecterguitarsofficial