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February 20, 2005

Old Redwood Hwy Strut!!/Ultrasound

So, I left McNears and headed up Petaluma Blvd North, which turns into Old Redwood Highway, which takes you up to Cotati and the Tradewinds. I wanted to check out Ultrasound, who I haven't seen in a looong while, if ever.

I first passed The Willowbrook, which is on Petaluma Blvd, and I noticed Ritchie Blue on the marquee. Heard some great things about
the guy, for many years as a matter of fact, but have never seen him. Or have I? I'm not sure but I do know one thing....my curiousity had the best of me. Ok, I'm gonna make a u-turn right up here, I'll go back to check him out.

I got to the place to turn and I says to myself, "Naw, just keep goin'...to the 'Winds is the mission." After several u-turn possibilities and indecisiveness, and knowing Rolf and I agreed to meet at the 'Winds, I stayed the course and was now on Old Redwood Highway. I passed Twin Oaks Tavern, I saw on their marquee they had Eric Martinez. Never heard of him and I was once again, undecided. On to the 'Winds was the mission. Twin Oaks has some good Sonoma County blues once in awhile.

What happened to those days when I was more adventuresome??

Got to the 'Winds, stepped out, didn't hear anything coming from Tradewinds at that point but did hear AC/DCs "Highway To Hell" blastin' out of Spancky's across the street. That song was more appropriate than I realized at the time.

Rolf pulled up. I told him about Richie Blue, he hadn't gone the Old Redwood Highway way so he missed it. Being only 11:30, I suggested we go back up the road to Willowbook and so we went.

On the way there we were dumped on with buckets, and I mean BUCKETS of rain, still talking of the Marcia Ball show. That was one treacherous stretch of two-lane "highway to hell" for sure....but I was still floatin' from that show so I hardly noticed at all.

Got there and waited out the break. They came on and did some dance numbers, along with "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" by CCR. What? Are you kiddin'??!!

I suggested we leave if we were to hear some Ultrasound so back up the Old Redwood Highway we went. It was a fun mini set with Ritchie Blue and gang and as we were leaving it sounded like we were gonna miss out on what would their best song of the set. It sounded real bluesy but....we were on a mission to hit the 'Winds.

It's real hard to top a show such as Marcia Ball's but it was just so cool having all this live music on this stretch of old road; I was loving it.

Finally walked in the Tradewinds and they were sounding great. This band here was a big surprise to me. I say be on the lookout for them and definitely keep an eye out for Linda Ferro! It was way cool hitting two great shows with two leading ladies on the keys. Fitting night.

Linda is one terrific songwriter and she's been busy since I've seen her last. I'm just assuming she's the writer of the bunch well because first of all two were introduced as hers, and second, she just has that leading lady quality about her. Real good arrangements, stage presence, and yes.... she can play and sing!!

The whole band is tight and it seems they are willing to take risks for something new and fresh sounding. Real nice originals. They "took apart," as Rolf would call it, "Take Me To The River," I think it was, and it was hypnotic and fun.

Real classy sax, some fine rhythm guitar, and a drivin' rhythm section. I say keep an ear out for this band and Linda....you go girl!!! ;-)

Fun night with some real interesting surprises for sure.

Posted by Mo at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

Marcia Ball with a Boyack Attack!!

I was real burnt from a hard work week and was gonna stay home and veg on the couch when something kept gnawin' at me. Something deep down inside was tellin' me not to miss this event. To be honest, I'm not a huge Marcia Ball fan but she has a favorite of mine on guitar, Pat Boyack!

Still...I thought since it's her show that it would feature mainly her singing and playing piano. Rightly so. But something just kept gnawin' at me to get, so I went. This was at 8:30 pm. I had missed the opener, "Phenix". This was strictly off of impulse since I had made up my mind weeks ago that I would miss this show.

I was talkin' with my daughter and her boyfriend when I jumped up and said "I gotta go!" They looked at me puzzled and said "Where?" after tellin' them the dilemma I said, "Somethings tellin' me to go so.....
see ya!"

Put on some old blue jeans, grabbed all the bluesin' essentials, and out the door I went. Hell....I dashed outta there so fast, I think I forgot to brush my teeth, and I surely didn't get a shower in after work! Aaah well.....I figured I'm just goin' to hear some blues, not to get lucky. Point is.....sudden impulses are always good to follow.

It was so awesome!! I have seen Marcia a few times and she never disappoints but I'm just not a big fan of the style. You know me....Gimme blues guitar and lots of it! She made a believer outta me last night!!

Well....she shares the spotlight plenty. I have not jumped up and down so much in a looong while. It was a hot sticky night and I was thinkin' that I haven't done it like this in many a moons.

I think Marcia was a little hoarse, and it appeared she was feeling a little under the whether, maybe a cold or something, but she was on it. Her heart was there, and man....can she sing! She did a few highlight solos but not what I remember from her. Still, a fabulous piano player. A commanding lady on stage, this is her show no matter what.

Her sax player I was becoming frustrated with with his little tiny parts here and there. He was real good. I yelled in Rolf's ear, "He needs to extend it out a bit, he's just too good for little pieces." Rolf reassured me that he would probably get a showcase part somewhere down the line. Yes he did indeed!! A few to be certain. He was certainly not stepping on any toes and this was one classy show. Man....can that guy blow!!!

The whole band was TIGHT!!!

Then there's the man who got me off the couch and down there in the first place---Pat Boyack. I have been a huge fan of his "Super Blues and Funky" for many years. I have heard mixed reviews of his new CD. Blues fans saying he stretches it out a bit too much from the blues but I haven't heard it yet.

He was so on it last night. He was featured a few times. He would step up to the plate and throw a verse, round, bar -whatever you call it- out there and just when you thought it was over, he went another round. It went up a notch from the last and so you're thinking, "Ok, that was great but..." and you're about to give a "token applause" when he goes for another round and this was built up from the last! This would go on for a bit and each one just built off the last and I was pulling my hair out.

I love getting to the point where I just can't take anymore and all I can do is jump up and down, screamin' and whistlin' just to keep the arteries in my neck and head from exploding!! I'm not sure how to phrase it but it gets to the point where I just can't take anymore. I love it when I get to that point and then they throw more at you.

THIS is what I'm on the prowl for when I venture out to shows. I tell you what....when I die....I hope it's on the dance floor experiencing something like that. That will be where the phrase "Died and gone to blues heaven" comes in. Forget dying while having sex or in your sleep. If I died during a solo such as Pat's last night,it would be the ultimate way to go. No, I'm not suicidal, just trying to put the guy's work into perspective.

The crowd at McNear's Mystic Theater was great. Not too crowded but a very appreciative one and a dance floor mixed with gawkers and loads of dancers.

A real classy lady this Marcia Ball, with a classy band, and one hell
of a classy show not be missed.

Posted by Mo at 11:43 AM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2005

Nothin' But the Brothas at Tradewinds 2/3/2005

"I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people
I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people

Everything is everything

I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people
I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people

Everything is everything"
(D. Hathaway)

Arriving early at the ‘Winds I was able to get almost the last of Rasta Dwight’s delicious stewed Creole chicken with flavorful gravy and mashed potatoes. Thanks to Levi for having him save me a plate. Somehow that fit that Dwight and Levi hatched the original idea for "Nothin’ But The Brothas" one night at the Tradewinds bar some years ago: "We should have a show for Black History Month that’s only Brothers".

Nothin’ But The Brothas at Tradewinds 2/3/05

I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people
I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people

Everything is everything

I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people
I hear voices, I hear people
I hear voices of many people

Everything is everything
(D. Hathaway)

Arriving early at the ‘Winds I was able to get almost the last of Rasta Dwight’s delicious stewed Creole chicken with flavorful gravy and mashed potatoes. Thanks to Levi for having him save me a plate. Somehow that fit that Dwight and Levi hatched the original idea for "Nothin’ But The Brothas" one night at the Tradewinds bar some years ago: "We should have a show for Black History Month that’s only Brothers".

Dee Wils was setting up the sound system and checking the mics and monitors. Commuting back and forth from board to microphone to monitor he checked ‘aliveness’ and sound levels, sorted out the spaghetti of all the cords, labeled the circuits and looked for dead lines.

Willy Jordan, his drums and cymbal stands already set up talked about being just back from New Orleans. He was resplendent in a "Tipitina’s" T-shirt (Damn, he played there!) and had a pile of "Off Beat" N. O. music magazines. Willy didn’t get much sleep there: too much happening. "I went stone cold wild there. I’d get three hours sleep after playing and wake up to a street parade." He received certain Mardi Gras invites that he had to pass up to return to Sonoma County and his scheduled gigs. I could sympathize, every time I went to N’awlins I never wanted to leave.

Keyboards extrordinaire Ron Lacy was quietly setting up his rig. I’d seen him before but couldn’t quite place where. There sure is a lot to unfold and plug-in with keyboards.

Bassist/guitarist Larry Jones manouvered in the door with an upright bass and put it against wall and went back and got his electric bass rig from his car and set up the large amp, and plugged in.

Levi walked in with two guitars and a small amp, set the amp on a chair, plugged in, checked his tuning, draped a mic across the front of his amp, and went off to talk to friends.

The doors to the ‘Winds were open on a cold dank night and the temperature indoors was about right for hanging meat. I went and got my Mardi Gras beads from Shorty’s stash and circulated the house. The faces were of mostly regulars and musicians. This show’s a music hound tradition. Suddenly in the door joining us came two parties of celebrating young women in party clothes.

Levi warmed up playing some chords and the rest of the band joined in behind him and the jam evolved into a funk groove with Willy introducing the show over it, and then became "Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)." It was massive funk with great solos by Ron Lacey and Levi Lloyd.

The two parties of young women informed the band of the birthdays they were celebrating and the band did their duty. Happy twenty-first Birthday Dana! One group of five crazy girls was from New Orleans; they loved the music.

"634-5789" received the full treatment with Levi doing some great playing. A massive groove and a long evolution of the rhythm led into "Sex Machine" and a really long funk extravaganza. Part way through the song Glenn Sullivan (trumpet) and Dave Schrader (Tenor Sax) walked through the back door and were put to work. Dave did a great solo.

Song after song flowed, with first Carl Bowers joining on trombone, and then a conga player (I asked for his name and nobody knew, he was good. Somebody email me.) Suddenly it was a full orchestra. Ron sang something about "Everybody hates me, but I just—" I had trouble hearing Ron’s mic. Then Walking the Dog became a wild horn driven song with Levi soloing on top. They kept alternating power with delicacy. Magic Sam’s "I Just Want A Little Bit" went into Marvin Gaye’s "What’s Going On" with a full orchestral sound and an ethereal feel.

Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some love in here today

Oh what's going on,
Tell me what's going on
(M. Gaye)

Doug Clifford switched with Dave Schrader on Tenor Sax and the horn section quickly traded cues as Willy named them the "Nothin’ But The Others Horns."

The Whole band filled the Tradewinds with a celestial soul sound from another time:

"I guess you wonder where I've been
I searched to find the love within

I came back to let you know
Got a thing for you
And I can't let go

My friends wonder what is wrong with me
Well I'm in a daze from your love you see
I came back to let you know
Got a thing for you
And I can't let go

Some people go around the world for love
And they may never find what they dream of
What you won't do, do for love
You tried everything
But you don't give up

In my world only you
Make me do for love
What I would not do

My friends wonder what is wrong with me
Well I'm in a daze from your love you see
I came back to let you know
Got a thing for you
And I can't let go

And though I only want the best it's true
I can't believe the things I do for you
What you won't do, do for love
You've tried everything
But you won't give up

In my world only you
Make me do for love
What I would not do"
(Bobby Caldwell)

Now they really had me and I was in a time warp. I was back to those parties and dances in Oakland and Berkeley and San Francisco when funk was young and I was too. The poetry and excitement of those times was on me. Funk grooves and songs, A full horn section version of "What Is Hip", "Use Me Up" with the whole house singing along, "Gonna Have a Funky Good Time" ("’D’, Down ‘D’, Funky ‘D’).

"Gonna Take You Higher" is the last song I remember for sure. I was dancing a lot and the music took me away. This show is an annual event, you need to be there; it’s like no other show. It funks harder than almost any other show, but it is also somehow filled with softness and longing.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2005

A Case of the Willys at Tradewinds 2/5/05

I got to the Tradewinds a little early, in time to get my second favorite location. I got that table only because David Schrader’s Tenor Saxophone was on the table in its stand. The place was getting full early and I recognized lots of faces. Willy was in a good mood, still talking about his visit to New Orleans. The band members were in a good mood and happy to be playing on one of their traditional nights at the ‘Winds. Only Levi Lloyd, sitting in for Volker Strifler and playing with the band for the first time, seemed a little withdrawn. After saying hello to folks I went outside for a walkaround.

"My grandma and your grandma
Were sittin' by the fire.
My grandma told your grandma:
"I'm gonna set your flag on fire."

(Talkin' 'bout:)
Hey now! Hey now!
Iko, Iko, anay
Jockamo feeno ai nané.
Jockamo fee nané.

"My grandma and your grandma
Were sittin' by the fire.
My grandma told your grandma:
"I'm gonna set your flag on fire."

(Talkin' 'bout:)
Hey now! Hey now!
Iko, Iko, anay
Jockamo feeno ai nané.
Jockamo fee nané.

Look at my king all dressed in red.
Iko, Iko, unday.
I betcha five dollars he'll kill you dead.
Jockamo fee nané

Hey now! Hey now!
Iko, Iko, anay
Jockamo feeno ai nané.
Jockamo fee nané.

My flag boy and your flag boy
Were sittin' by the fire.
My flag boy told your flag boy:
I'm gonna set your flag on fire."
("Jackamo" James Crawford)

I managed to walk back through the backdoor of the ‘Winds a half second before the first note of the first song. A New Orleans classic! I knew a good sign when I saw one: the North Bay’s best R&B drummer and vocalist, best riffing R&B guitarist, best tenor sax player (in the best horn section), plus a great funk bassist, were opening with a first rank New Orleans funk Mardi Gras tune. Oh Man! Like everybody else I started singing, "Iko Iko!"

With no break Willy started the long unaccompanied "I’mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" of "I’m Ready." Perfect pitch.
"I’m ready for you
I hope you ready for me"
Done nothing like the Muddy Waters original it was Mardi Gras all the way.

A crazy vocal scat by Willy on "Walking With My Baby" had everybody laughing, right into a wild rhumba on "Let the Four Winds Blow (Let ‘em blow, Let ‘em blow)." Levi was visibly growing more confident, but still passed on taking a solo beyond a one verse restatement of the melody riff.

"Walking The Dog" may be an old war-horse, but the "Case" transformed it into a funk masterpiece. Willy’s drumming, David’s horn work, and Levi’s funk riffing drove me out on the dance floor. The place was packed. Then Willy called "The Thrill Is Gone" with an eye to Levi. Bassist Carl Bowers, already grinning joined Willy in re-setting this classic in a totally funky beat. Calling Schrader for a horn solo, David gave a beautiful and heartfelt sound. After the next turnaround Willy called Levi’s name and Levi in his first solo of the evening produced a smoky and deep reading of the minor blues. "And now that it’s all over, all I can do is wish you well."

Out of the trick bag came Robert Parker’s New Orleans R&B classic "Yak, Yak, Yak (you gonna drive your man away!)." Man, was this ever New Orleans rhythm night. It was a dance feast. Again and again over the night Carl Bowers would cover so much ground and set such a ferocious groove with Willy that the others were freed to make moves and solos.

"Are you ready to dance?"
"I said, ARE YOU READY TO DANCE?
‘YEAH!’
"GET INVOLVED!"
"I SAID GET INVOLVED!’
"ARE YOU READY TO GET INVOLVED?"
‘YEAH!"
"I CAN’T HEAR YOU!"
"YEAH!"
"LET ME HEAR YOU SHOUT ‘GET INVOLVED!’"
"GET INVOLVED!"
And with that the immortal chank of "Sex Machine" began. Get On Up! ‘Verse’ after ‘verse built with rhythm development and driving horn solos by Glenn Sullivan and Schrader before any vocal. It was the full production number. I looked out on the dance floor and saw person after person from the old dance crowd; it was like old times. Willy Coyote calling solos called David’s name and kept the driving beat going never giving a solo-ending cue. David played verse after verse getting harder and harder, bop squeaking and honking, going just as fast as Willy’s drumming! Stupendous funk! Super funk played us into the break. Body Heat!

The second set opened with T-Bone Walker’s "Street Walking Woman." Nice solos by Levi and David on this swinging tune. A funk instrumental followed that. The packed house was dancing hard.

The band does some Tower of Power tunes, but rarely "What is Hip." Willy calling it was a surprise to Levi and you could see him reaching back in his memory and coming up with the tune. Suddenly Levi was in command and he turned in a driving solo that had the audience whistling at him. Mo, dancing right in front all night, was goggling at him as he burned.

Willy told Levi to call a song and Levi called a "Case" slow blues standard: "In And Out Of Love." Levi burned into the intro, played nice rhythm behind Willy’s vocal, and then dive bombed into a solo that started in the lower registers and only slowly through three verses reached the upper registers to scream. At one point he missed the verse chord transition and Carl, Glenn and David were laughing and urging him on. Ignoring Will’s cues Levi kept going and just plain burned. Mo, directly in the path of his amplifier, was leaping up and down in front of him as he played with his eyes closed. People were yelling and whistling. The horns were yelling "Go, go!" in front of me. Wonderful stuff. At the end Levi gave a "Gee, sorry" look to the band. They were all laughing and pointing at him. The audience was screaming and yelling.

Levi really chanked rhythm guitar on "Very Superstitious", with a fine solo too. A very funky and snaky "Twine Time" was done only as an instrumental. It was really over top and farther and farther from the original with each verse. The band was really going new places. It went and went and the house and the dance floor was packed. They played us into the second break with this one.

The third set had a smaller house and more room. The band broke into that riff you all know, and "I Feel Good (I knew that I would)." The floor filled with dancers, and suddenly we were all pointing at the TV in the far corner. The two distant corner TVs are always on at the ‘Winds (captioned-no sound), with very strange surreal combinations like mud wrestling and Iron Chef. There on the screen as Willy sang "I feeeeel nice, like sugar and spice" was James Brown on Miami Vice in a white suit and looking like he had a halo. The horns started pointing and Levi caught it and started laughing. Willy sang, "I got you!" as James gave a big close-up toothy smile through a misty lens. God’s Archangel smiled upon us.

Emboldened by the Mandate of Heaven, Willy launched into a spoken song introduction. "I don’t know how many times I’ve played this goddam song. People get laid on this song. People get drunk to this song. Why do we play this motherfucking song: because it puts butts in the seats and drinks from the bar. Budweiser and "Mustang Sally". Budweiser ought to give a royalty to this damn song. Every musician has played this way too many times. Do we have to play motherfucking ‘Mustang Sally’?"

Thus began the most de-constructed version of "Mustang Sally" I’ve heard. They ripped it to shreads and went other places with it. We were all cheering. Unbidden the whole audience sang the immortal chorus of "Ride, Sally, Ride" in the right places. Willy cracked up while never missing a beat. Dave Schrader delivered a bop solo; Glenn Sullivan played Miles Davis playing "MS" with all chord substitutions, hell, melody substitutions. Couldn’t happen to a better song.

Then in an almost mind-bending switch, they did "Never Been To Spain." Levi did a nice double-stop solo based on major pentatonic scales sounding sorta ‘country’. It was way out there.

Then the band went into the "Sex Machine" riff and did the whole thing again, but in a whole different way. Carl really pounded this way out there in groove land and Levi smacked it around with his always-changing funk riffing.

Suddenly it was late, very late, and it was over. "We’re done, there ain’t no more. I get to go get a drink! Goodnight!"

A great night with mistakes, missed cues, great solos, powerful grooves, and crazy moments. Celebrate Mardi Gras, dance your booty off, bow to the goddess of music, get wild, play great music.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2005

A Case of "Blow-My-Mind"!

So I drag myself out for a bit of A Case of the Willy's last night.

Levi Lloyd sittin' in for Volker Strifler since he's in Memphis with
his 'other' band. If V would concentrate on his own band once in awhile, maybe he would get somewhere. Frustrating. Plays with anybody and everybody when he should focusing on HIS stuff.

It was tough for Levi but he found the pocket every so often and
those times waaay made up for the "out-of-pocket" times.

READ THE WHOLE THING HERE.

Posted by Mo at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2005

The Crawl, Part Two

"East to west, north to south
Brand new dance people shoutin' about
It's called the crawl

Aw, the crawl
Cats on the corner, everybody's doin' the crawl

East to west, north to south
Brand new dance people shoutin' about
It's called the crawl

Aw, the crawl
Cats on the corner, everybody's doin' the crawl"

THE CRAWL – Part Two

Every few months talking on those blues road trip gang journeys Mo and I will agree that we really ought to concentrate more on the local Sonoma County scene. Both of us remember what it used to be like. There was a blues type band or hot attraction at some venue somewhere in the County every Friday and Saturday night.

READ THE WHOLE THING HERE.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

The Crawl, Part One

Do the Crawl!

East to west, north to south
Brand new dance people shoutin' about
It's called the crawl
Aw, the crawl

Cats on the corner, everybody's doin' the crawl
East to west, north to south
Brand new dance people shoutin' about
It's called the crawl
Aw, the crawl

Cats on the corner, everybody's doin' the crawl
(Lonnie Brooks as Guitar Junior)

Part One

Moving into my new living quarters and taking up the strands of life I tried to stay quietly at home and get the moving and settling in done. But you know how it is with music hounds, once you’ve found the fascination with live music, even with a big CD and record collection you hear of a show that might be hot and the itch starts. "Hey Rolfy, Little Junior and the Big Boys are playing at the Underwater Inn. Wanna go?" Jeez, I’m gone. Drippin’ Soul and the Driveshafts are playing at the Sticky Floor? I’m polishing my dancing shoes and counting my change.

READ THE WHOLE THING HERE.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2005

Black History Month Celebrations With Some BLUES!

This in from Carl Ontis:


Hi Mo
thought this might be of interest to you or Sonoma Tunes

Black History Month Bay Area Blues Society Events:

2/4/05 "Origins of the West Coast Blues Lecture & Performance" 8pm-11pm
San Ramon Library, 100 Montgomery Street, San Ramon, CA
Press release is HERE (.pdf file).

2/5/05 "California West Coast blues Summit & Seminar" 1pm-6pm FREE TO THE PUBLIC
East Bay Law School, 554 Grand Avenue 2nd Floor, Oakland, CA
Press Release is HERE (.pdf file).

2/12/05 "Blues Concert" 2pm-4pm FREE TO THE PUBLIC
at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA
Press Release is HERE (.pdf file).

2/19/05 "West Coast Blues Hall of Fame & Awards Show" 7pm-11pm
Calvin Simmons Theatre/Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center
10th Street, Oakland, CA
Press Release is HERE (.pdf file).


Thank You

C Ontis

Posted by Mo at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)