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September 20, 2003

Rolf's Ramblings 9-20-03

RUB-A-DUB

Sweet young Kelli was bustling around helping get ready for the Bash (Levi said, "Wait 'til you hear her sing!"). As we got the beer and soft drink service ready in the barn she looked at the half wine barrels we were emptying ice into for the sodas. She giggled.

"My parents used to bathe me in one of those. They were such crazy hippies!" She giggled again.

"Yeah," said Levi, "My momma did too, only it was tin."

"Mine too," I said. And we both laughed.

"What?" said Kelli.

"Well, it wasn't cause they were hippies, Mama was from Arkansas. It was 'cause we were poor."

LEVI AND HOW IT BEGAN

In the heat of the early afternoon before the Bash truly began I was helping out a little bit and I went into Tammie and Levi's house. Over in the far corner was an old maple or birch blond F-hole guitar with its neck off. It had the kind of inlays that guitars of the late forties and fifties had. It was maybe a Kay. It looked like a mahogany neck. The heel was missing about an inch. The separated neck-to-body joint was a real dovetail. I had an attack of Guitar Acquisition Syndrome looking at it and wished it was playable.

Behind me Levi said, "I'm gonna get that fixed. I'm going to take it to Dolan or the guy at Zone and have the neck fixed and put back on."

"My Dad brought it home. Some guy in the barracks got all mad at it and smashed it down on the edge of his bunk. It cracked all around the edge at the tailpiece. Dad immediately said "I'll give you two dollars for that." Dad brought it home and we fixed the crack with a little Elmer's Glue."

"That's how it all began."

AN ARCHANGEL TAKES LEVI BY THE ARM

At the Bash Levi Lloyd told me this story:

"Sometime in the 1970s I was in a disco band and we were doing all right. That particular winter for a couple of weeks we were third on the bill at Harrah's at Tahoe, along with salsa star Willie Bobo, and B.B. King. I was the musical director of our band. I didn't know blues and soul from nothin' but I thought I was it. We were doing the Bee Gees and stuff like that.

"One winter day I had a friend drive me by the casino so I could pick up my band uniforms for dry cleaning. I went to the dressing room, collected my uniforms in a big ball and was on my way out the side corridor. My friend was waiting with the motor running.

"One of B. B. King's musicians stuck his head out the side door of one of the ballrooms and said, 'Hey Levi, B.B. want to talk to you.' I said, 'You're kidding me, B.B. ain't here.' He said, 'No man, really. We're having rehearsal.'

'Aw, man---.'

'No, man, really.' And he led me in.

"And it really was B.B. and the whole B.B. King orchestra having rehearsal! The guy told me to sit here and B. B. would be with me. And I sat there for three hours in a chair watching a full rehearsal of tunes that were already in their book and new tunes. I watched them balance the parts. I learned how to run a rehearsal, work with musicians, work with horns, and a whole lot about the blues. And the band was all famous musicians like Calvin Owens and Bobby Forte and guys like that.

"I sat there sweating in my winter clothes with that ball of uniforms in my lap the whole time. I was scared to put it down. At the end of three hours B.B. came up and said, 'Hey man, I didn't hold you up did I?' And he gave me this little smile. He'd put me to school."

LEVI AND THE DEVIL

At the annual Sonoma Tunes Blues Bash as the twilight settled around us I was standing with Levi listening. The evening was turning golden and the chicken inside was humming happily. The perfume of the giant eucalyptus tree was fragrant in the air. People around us were laughing and telling stories.

Levi turned to me and said, "Man, this is fun. I never had so much fun in music as I'm having now. Two years ago I wouldn't have believed I could have fun like this being sober. I've been sober two years now and it's just getting better and more fun. And I wouldn't have believed when I was using that I would be better."

The Hand of Kindness

“Well I wove the rope
And I picked the spot
Well I stuck out my neck
And I tightened the knot

"O stranger, stranger
I'm near out of time
You stretch out your hand
I'll stretch out mine

"Maybe just the hand of kindness
Maybe just the hand of kindness
Maybe just a hand
Stranger will you reach me in time
In time

"Well I scuppered the ship
And I bent the rail
And I cut the brake
And I ripped the sail

"And they called me a Jonah
It's a sin I survived
You stretch out your hand
I'll stretch out mine

"Maybe just the hand of kindness
Maybe just the hand of kindness
Maybe just a hand
Stranger will you reach me in time
In time

"Shoot that old horse now
Break in the new
The hung are many
And the living are few

"I see your intention
Here's my neck on the line
You stretch out your hand
I'll stretch out mine

"Well, maybe just the hand of kindness
Oh, maybe just the hand of kindness
Well, maybe just a hand
Stranger will you reach me in time
In time."

[Richard Thompson]

...Rolf

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

On the Road to San Diego

It just don't get any easier leaving that kid. It's just as hard the sixth time as it was the first. Tears rollin' down my cheeks, I got on that highway and headed towards Interstate 8 for San Diego.

Leaving the Valley of the Sun, I had the blues.

I put on my new demo CD from WALKIN' CANE MARK and he had me feeling better in no time. Yes, The Blues always makes me feel better. This guy has some energy!

Passing a little airport, I remembered why our kid is so far from home. Chasin' a dream. Fly high, Little Willy!

Headin' south for a short bit on Highway 85, I was cruisin' toward the border. Walkin' Cane is growlin' some low down blues. This is one lonely desert. I have to remind myself to stop for fuel when a gas station appears. Since I was headin' toward the border, I thought it fitting I should play something from the border town legend---LONG JOHN HUNTER. Ooh-Wee Baby is the CD and it's gettin' me thru this stretch.

Gila Bend is my first stop and this is one one-horse-town. Gotta love it. Don't think the van does though. It's hot out here!
Finally made it to Interstate 8 and the Mexican border is just to the left. Three hundred miles to San Diego. Looking at that mountain range and that desert, I thought of all the people that die just to get here for a better life. Kinda gave me the blues. I put on another new CD given to me called Desert Blues. A compilation of many Phoenix blues players. The first song to come on is "Phoenix Boogie.” Fun song by HANS OLSEN. Haven't seen Hans yet. Top of my list after this song:

"Just west of El Paso, east of L.A.
They all do the Phoenix Boogie at the end of the day.
Round the clock, you get your dancin' shoes
You rock all night to that boogie Blues.

We'll do the Phoenix Boogie
All night long
We'll do the Phoenix boogie
When the sun goes down

When you live in the desert, the cactus sing
We can't wait to hear that boogie band
The sun is shinin’'
You move kinda slow
But when the night time comes
[I can't make out the last line.]

Mississippi was the mother
Chicago the Dad
Texas was the first born
Of the children they had
Now there's Arizona
All that heat
You may never know no boogie
‘Til you hear that Phoenix beat"

Great stuff with some acoustic guitar and some fine harp playin'.
The desert tornados are a sight! I know there's another name for them. Dust devils, or something like that. They dot the desert-scape. Some are big, some small. They're everywhere.

BIG PETE PEARSON---King of Arizona Blues, comes on with "Your Love Is Like A Runway". Oh yeah…"..and everybody's tryin' to land on you" What a line!

CHICO CHISM, a living legend in his own right, does “Big Fat Mama 480 Pounds.” He's all over the local scene. A beautiful gospel comes on by DIANA LEE called- "Movin' Out Back.” The CHUCK HALL BAND doin' some kickin', rockin' blues on “Good Mind To Quit You.”

I see some fighters doin' maneuvers at 9 o'clock (that's to my immediate left, for all you non-military folks). Pretty awesome. They disappeared quicker than they appeared. I don't even see a sign for an air base anywhere. No, the desert heat is not making me hallucinate! Really, they were there!

“House Cleanin' Blues” comes on by a gal by the name of RENA HOUS. It's got a Marcia Ball feel. She also plays in the all chick band Phoenix Blues band called, SISTAH BLUE. HANS OLSEN blows some nice harp on this song as well. Yeah baby. Sweep him right on out that door! Throw out that suitcase full of blues too.

HOODOO KINGS come on with “Blue Over You.” A Little Charlie& the Nightcats feel. A swingin' guitar, a thumpin' stand-up, shufflin' drums with brushes, and even the vocals kinda sound like Rick Estrin.

THE ROCKET 88's come on with an instrumental called “Rockin' The Roller Rink.” It jumped me through the Yuma Pass. Great chromatic harp piece by Bill Tarsha. I read they are one of Arizona's longest running bands. Real good.

Those fighters re-appeared from aways back. This time going in for a landing at Yuma Marine base. I told you I wasn't seeing things ;).

The sign reads: "Last Chance before California Prices. Save 21 cents a gallon." I had to laugh and stop, of course.

The song playing at the station is by THE JIM GLASS BAND called “Blues On Sahuaro.” This is one beautiful song. Jim plays a nice guitar that is to cry for. The sax playin' was soundin' familiar like Sam Burckhart. Taking a closer look...it's a guy by the name of CLYDE 'FLASH' COVINGTON. Strange similarities.

The last tune is by a couple of guys named LAMAR & LUCIUS PARR. It says they're the cousins of Albert Collins. “Don't You Yell At Me” is the song and it's alright.

Great CD of some of Arizona's finest put together by the Phoenix Blues Society.

Filled her up, stop for some McDonald's chicken nuggets, and got back on that road. That's right, chicken nuggets. I just love those things! No, I don't care what they're made of. Don't tell me, don't tell me. I don't care and yes, it's probably chicken lips and stuff scraped off the slaughter house floor. Yummy!

The sign reads: "Welcome to California."
I put on RON HACKER's Burnin’ CD and settled in for the final stretch. Chicken nuggets, a Hack Attack, the open road---who needs more?

The song, “Welfare Store” was blastin'out of da blues van when I got to the Border Inspection check point.

"President Bush says he gonna, gonna treat everybody right.
Gonna give 'em a can or two of dem beans
And a can or two of dem tripe.
I say no baby.
Mama, sho nuff don't wanna go.
I do anything for ya baby.
But don't make me go down to no welfare store."

The timing couldn't have been better!

You should see the sand dunes! Drifting sand wisping across the hwy. Awesome sight. The desert gives way to the farms of the Imperial Valley. The smell of freshly tilled soil, pesticides and fertilizers fills the air. Ron is singing “Fool For You Stockings.” I love this song. He does it better than Z.Z. Those guys need to hear this version. I'm sure they would agree.

The sign reads: "Elevation: SEA LEVEL"

I've never seen that before. I've always been at least 10 feet above the water! Coming to the coastal range now. Hopin' for that cool ocean breeze. This range ahead looks treacherous! Rollin' along, I came to the first part of the pass and I've never seen mountains such as these before. Mountains of boulders and rocks. As far as the eye can see. No trees, just a few shrubs. These mountains look like God was playing with a dump truck and just dumped rocks where ever and made mountains. Piles and piles of them. I can't describe it. No dirt or soil, just mountains of rocks. This went on for awhile.

The signs reads: "Watch for rocks" and 'Rock Slide Area"

You think?! I'm trying to find out what that area is called. I know it has a name. At the top of the Tecate Divide. Only 4,200 feet. Starting to look like a coastal range as I descend. The air is much cooler on the other side here. What a drive. Much nicer than Highway 10, for sure. RON HACKER http://www.ronhacker.com/ saw me to my brother’s safely. Thanks Hack!!

Great journey and it felt good to get away by myself for awhile. Of course, I WAS in good company with Da Blues, Baby!!

Posted by Mo at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2003

On the Road to Phoenix

I need to get away for awhile so I'm headin' down to Phoenix to see my boy and hear some blues!

I knew I would be missin' many great shows and another special event. How can I miss Freund & Horton?! I am bummed about that but I need to flee. The Delta and Vallejo fests are real hard to pass up but I need to flee. Was invited to real special party but I need to flee.

Things at home are fine, couldn't be better, but the real world really sucks right now.

Sometimes it's just good to get away by one's self, and step outside the situation to get a good look at it. I've been having this "flighty" feeling and I just want to hit that road.

After wrapping up a few loose ends around the house and with the family, I packed up a huge thermos of coffee, a few clothes, MANY blues CDs, a few munchies---ya know, the basic essentials, and down the road I went. I decided to drive all night to avoid Bay Area and L.A. traffic and to avoid crossing the desert in the heat.

Got to the Richmond bridge and there it was….It was HUGE! Bright, beautiful, smilin' down at me, I'd knew I be in good company when I saw it. It was a comforting nightlight that would help me see the way and get there safe.

Turned up Craig Horton and rolled on down 580 and towards the central valley….

…finally made it to the Grapevine. That was a pretty quick journey down Highway 5. No traffic to speak of just loads of trucks. Rollin' thru the Tejon Pass, the moonlight was bright and I could see the mountains standing strong. Last spring they were splashed with purples and oranges. Beautiful sight. With just enough moonlight, I could see they were brown and parched.

I was listening to Johnny Rawls. I knew he was playing at the Rhythm Room this night and I would miss him there and at the Vallejo festival this weekend, so I had to play him. GOIN' HOME is one of my favorites, but that wasn't on my mind just yet:

"Highway 49, Highway 49,
I believe, I believe I'll go back home.
This city life, city life,
Sho nuff killin' me.

Highway 49, Highway 49,
Ya know it just keep callin' my name.
I said Highway 49, Highway 49.
Lord it seems like it just keep callin' my name.
Yeah, it won't be long, won't be long,
I'll be back down in the sunshine."

I just love that song.

Feels great to be on the road.

Got through the pass slow and steady, steady and slow, That's the way we always go. Four banger don't allow much. Stopped to clean up the mess I made trying to pump coffee with one hand and holding the cup with the other. “LOOK MA, NO HANDS!"

Ain't nuthin' worse than that sour milk smell after a couple of days in the carpet. Got back on the road.

It was 2 a.m. when I reached Highway 210. Scanning the radio, I found no blues. I was hoping for a late night blues spot, since it's usually shoved in the dark corners of radio anyway. No luck. Lots of Spanish and classic rock. No thanks.

Gettin' kinda homesick (NOT!), I put on my SF BAYS BEST BLUES CD and on came DANIEL CASTRO with the opening number, "Cold Hearted Women.” Stopped for fuel before going into the desert, SAFELY poured the rest of my java, and rolled on. On came DAVE MATHEWS and CHRIS CAIN playing "T-BONE STEAK." Great stuff and soundin' yummy.

Passin' the Chocolate Mountains, MARK HUMMEL and CHARLES WHEAL are sounding soooo sweet. "BLUE JIMMY" is the song and it's one great number. This is one awesome CD and HIGHLY recommended to all! It's got MANY of my local faves including: Michael Peloquin, Mike Schermer, Anthony Paule, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Angela Strehli and more. All great tunes. The last song by JOHN LEE SANDERS came on, "Never Had It So Good,” and it made wonder, “What ever happened to him?” Haven't seen his name around in a long while. Great finger snappin' jazzy/blues tune. Nice vocals and a real down home feel.

Enough yappin', I thought as I'm writing while drivin'. Anything at this point to keep me awake, I've got to get thru this desert before the sun peaks over them mountains. I forgot how hot it gets ‘til I felt that warm desert air. This was at 4 a.m.! ONWARD!!

R. L. BURNSIDE will see me the rest of the way. Well, Well, Well.....

"Goin' down south,
Goin' down south.
Goin' down south,
Goin' down south
A chilly wind don't blow"

On comes NAPPY BROWN and this had me laughing. It brought back all the hoopla about his performances last time in town. The song he was performing at the Rhythm Room? You guessed it…"Lemon Squeezin' Daddy!" Incredible. I guess I need to listen to this CD more 'cause I forgot that song from Nappy was on there.

The sign reads: "DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS"

The sky has an eerie glow from the lights of the state penitentiary that I saw from a distance. This is no place for ANYONE to be. Smack in the middle of this god forsaken desert. Quite sobering as KIM WILSON blows some lowdown harp in "Five Long Years." Real strange the way it all came together. I was picturing Kim sittin' in a cell, on his bunk, lights out, blowin' a lullaby for all the other inmates. (Sorry Kim ;)

That would close out this awesome CD from Bob Corritore's Rhythm Room in Phoenix. Real good CD with R. L. Burnside, Sonny Rhodes, Henry Gray, Sam Lay, Mojo Buford, Nappy Brown and of course, Kim Wilson to open it and close it.

The moonlight gives way to the sunlight. Thank you Mr. Moon for your company. The hills are appearing as if to awake. Everything is coming alive. Pretty spectacular sight.

The sign reads: "Welcome to Arizona"

Almost instantly the cacti appeared although not in abundance. The rugged peaks give way to some smooth mesas. The colors were pinks, purples, oranges and blues. The sun finally made its appearance and was being cradled between two mesas for a quick moment. That was simply incredible!

Put on my shades, some Long John Hunter, and stepped on the gas 'cause I was getting real anxious to see that boy of mine.

And speaking of Long John Hunter.......

Posted by Mo at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)