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May 31, 2005

Black Diamond Blues!!!

Had a full van load for the Black Diamond Blues fest. What a crew I had! All dancers and just a load of fun. Thanks to all of you- Terri, Kris, Ann, Lis, Dee, Rolf, and myself of course, for coming and pitching in for gas.

We got there, the skies blue with some patchy clouds, a real nice breeze, and plenty of shade to retreat to between sets. Complete with fountain!
Walked in with little or no security, front row seats, no VIP seats, very low-key.
I love this festival!
A big dance area in the front and it was stated that, "There will be dancin' police out patrolling and this area will be filled with dancers!! No excuses!"
She was my new hero.

Only four vendors and very little else. It was a sad site to see how much smaller it has gotten but hell...it is the first year back after a three year hiatus.
One stage this time too.
Downtown Pittsburg is like a ghost town. Not sure whats going on there but it was almost spooky. Real cute, old historic downtown too.

Lot's of great music and LOTS of the Bay Area Blues Society All-Star Band.
Say what you will, I did, but when these guys are up there, they are usually backing loads of great singers from the east bay. They back many that come into town too. I was thinking about that today. If not for this band we would probably hardly ever get to hear Teddy "Blues Master" Watson; Little Willie John Jr; Pork Pie Phillips; Wylie Trauss; Little Jr Crudup, and many more!
I would almost guess they were a "house band" of some sort. At the fest, they would later back Chick Willis.

I must say.... Pork Pie Phillips (aka Carl Ontis)....
Not Bad For A White Boy!!
Carl tore it up!!
Like the songs you write too.

Lots of singers and that Teddy "Blues Master" Watson really gave his all. He was all over the crowd, pleadin', preachin', and testifyin'.

Billy Dunn, another fabulous singer.

My favorite set of the day....Al Von.
Not only is he incredible sexy and smooth on stage...the guy can play that guitar and sing!!
Lots of blues guitar from Al Von on this day. I really wanted to kidnap the crew and hit Rumours, in Oakland, afterwards for his show, but 4am was approaching mighty fast.

Chick Willis- I just love this guy's style and tone!
I was feedin' my face, my head down, hat on so I couldn't see with the sun glarin', then I look up and here's Chick standing right smack dead in front of me playing that guitar! That was a cool moment.
I had food in my mouth so I couldn't whistle or nuthin'. I surely didn't want to yell (or did I?) with my mouth full. My luck, I'd probably spray food all over the guy. How embarrassing that would be.

I really like Chick's style. He stayed in the crowd most the set. Did his "Stoop Down" song and that was fun.
I guess I need to get something by him. Hoping for something that's pretty bluesy. I have heard he does a lot of soul kinda stuff. Which is alright but you know me.
Chick Willis is going to be at Biscuits THIS Wednesday (6/1) night and I'm almost tempted to hit that and then afterwards, RJ Mischo at the Saloon.

Layce Baker and the Black Diamond Blues Band were good. Real good as a matter of fact. He had this kid on guitar who was amazing for a 12 year old. This kid will do good. Gabriel so & so, I can't remember his name. Layce rips on that guitar and I really need to go see him more often.

So much blues in four daze that I'm on blues burnout mode and nuthin' is coming in clear. Just wanted to share a few things that I experienced, and remember, on this Memorial Day weekend.
Remember The Heros!!

Oh, and...Thank You Bay Area Blues Society for all you do in keeping that world of east bay blues going strong. It's a whole nother world of blues over there. Funny how just a span of a bridge makes a difference!!
It's real cool , the east bay blues scene. One I want to explore more often.

The Hayward Russell City fest is coming and what a line up!!
No VIP and I will be hittin that one both days.
The Central Valley Fest line up is out, it's awesome and no VIP. I will hit that one also and that'll probably do it for me for the Blues fest season.


Posted by Mo at 05:00 PM | Comments (1)

Bryan Lee in Half Moon Bay 5/28/05

Man...am I wiped out!!

Have to go to work just to rest. I wish that were the case but it's really not.

Got the weekend started off right with Sonny on Thursday and Mz Dee on Friday, and now I was ready to hit the road outta town for some blues.

Headed to Half Moon Bay and the only taker for this trip was Rolf.
Thanks for coming along, Rolf, and Thank you for enduring In & Out Burgers with me.
Rolf is not a fan of their "secret sauce".
We wanted some of Barbara's Fish 'n' Chips after the show, but they were closed by the time we got outta there.

Got to the brewery with lighter traffic than expected along the way.
The place was filled with diners.

The band finally got under way. The continuous... "Johnson- party of four, your table is ready. Howard, Party of five, your table is ready", it was constant and ANNOYING!!!
I say, turn off the speakers on the bar side when the band starts. Leave the others on but definitely turn off the two on the music side.
It was rude to the band and the crowd. Especially when they brought it down for some of them slow blues, it ruined the moment.
I could tell it was bothering the band.
Later in the evening, when the dining died down and it turned into the "club" scene, it was better.

Bryan Lee (The Braille Blues Daddy) is a really great guitar player. He can sing too!
He did have that kid with him on the second guitar and he was good. Bryan would finally take the lead and it was just so much more seasoned. He took it up a few notches. I would've loved to hear nuthin' but Bryan Lee all night long! I don't know...I guess he's just been playing longer.
The kid's playing got lots of applause as opposed to Bryan's playing and that I didn't understand.
I guess people just like that young 'rock' stuff.

I too could've done without the 10 minute drum solo!
You say you endured 3-5 minutes?? Ours was more like a whole 10 minutes and that's not stretchin' it!
Really good but the seventies are over.

Tight band, Two looong sets with no guests, break short, and Nuthin' but Bryan Lee and his band.
I am so glad he made it out this way. First time here and he said he would be back. I'll be out to see him when he does come back!!

After an encore, we left for that long haul back.
Wanted to stop at "Cheers of Pacifica" for 'Wall of Blues', but we were tired and thinking of that early wake up call for the fest the next day.

Saw that the Old Princeton Landing is Literally next-door to the HMBBrewery. I had no idea they were that close!
Walked in there to scope it out and I like the joint. I will try to make Stan Erhart's jam there one day. Just too a long haul for a Thursday night.

All in all....the Bryan Lee show was great and well worth the trip but.....I hate when my expectations are so high that it ends up being a letdown. I guess I shouldn't expect so much.
I wanted more of his guitar. He would be rippin' and then just hand it off. That, to me, is like stopping in the middle of hot love-making without being satisfied. I'm not sure how else to put it.


Posted by Mo at 05:09 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2005

Black Diamond Blues Festival, 5/29/05

Black Diamond Blues Festival Sunday 5/29/05

Full Road Trip! We’d been discussing this for a bout two weeks among the roadtrip gang; we’d had a good time at the old Black Diamond Festival held in the summer, before the City of Pittsburg (CA) killed it for some reason. Now it was back, scheduled on Memorial Weekend. Mo sent out the email almost a week in advance. As is the usual case, the men mostly couldn’t get it together and the women could. The blues van headed down Hwy 101 and the Lakeville cutoff with Terri, Ann, Chris, Lis, Dee, Mo, -and little old me surrounded by pretty women.

Arriving early just as the ticket booths were getting together, we set up right in the road about 25 feet out from the stage. There weren’t many people there on a breezy fresh day sharp with sunlight. Behind us people came in including other Bay Area blues friends. Having time we went in search of coffee in the surrounding historical downtown of Pittsburg (Thank goodness they saved it from redevelopment) and found a great old time Mexican Restaurant with a tin ceiling that had good coffee.

We returned to the sound of guitar tuning and balancing. Avotcja, blues and jazz DJ on KPFA and KPOO (Avotcja is very dear to me, as I used to listen to her program while doing the endless reading and writing of Law School) was the Master of Ceremonies. This turned out to be a double blessing as the hyper little dude in the flash suit who used to drive everybody crazy was back, and as usual getting every name and fact wrong as he nattered away.

First up was Guitar Mac as a solo doing slide guitar. Mac wasn’t on the program and they started him at 11:30. Mac played slide guitar on several well-known tunes and it became clear he’s a standard tuning guitarist who’s not really comfortable on slide. He mostly strummed and when he wanted single note leads he’d fret them with his fingers instead of the slide.

Slide guitar playing has a different technique than standard tuning playing. Guitar Mac has learned a few licks but it was evident he hadn’t learned the heavy bass technique or melodic playing of Charley Patton, Willie Brown, or Son House. Since his guitar was turned up loud and the early sound mix was harsh, the guitar drowned out Mac’s excellent tenor-baritone voice. Hearing his CD done with a band is a whole lot more satisfying. The early sound mix worked against him.

The Sound check followed Guitar Mac and they began to get some mids and bass into the mix. We would shortly find the sound crew had gotten so much bass into the mix that it was almost painful to be in the direct path of the bass speakers.

The true opening act was Ron Joseph and the Steppin’ Stones, featuring Dwayne Thompson on vocals. Dwayne Thompson is a powerful tenor vocalist who can do blues, soul, and obviously has big gospel roots. What a fantastic singer! He can do romantic love ballads and raunchy blues with equal ease. Being from Sonoma County I hadn’t heard him before and I’ll be watching for his name and huge voice again. The Stepping Stones Band also has a fine guitarist with a waspish sound and nice licks. The whole band has some fine funk rhythm to it.

Next up was the Caravan of Allstars in one of their backing incarnations, this time behind Pork Pie Phillips. They began to warm up the still arriving crowd and had fun with Carl’s songs.

Then the Allstars backed up Teddy "Bluesmaster" Watson who was one of the hits of the show. After delivering a song on stage as the foxy grandpa with a cane, he went down the stairs with a cordless mic and threw the cane away and proceeded to sing songs up close to the ladies and wowing the crowd while doing the bump and grind. Bi-ig showmanship. His tune coming to an end he bowed for the applause—and then whipped around and shouted to the band on stage, "B flat—from the five!" and gave us a whole lot more. The band on stage were knocked out and laughing as a wily old veteran stole the show.

Layce Baker and the original Black Diamond Band started quietly and showed deep blues feel and power. Both Layce and second guitarist Louis Jones showed they could really play the blues. Searing licks were the power of this band and I want to see them in a much longer show. Expression was their powerful game on this too-short set. They have a whole lot of guitar with feeling. This the original band that Layce started with, not the one he regularly appears with in bar gigs.

Another big surprise was in store for me when Avotcja introduced Billy Dunn as "One of those guys from Russell City who just went about the business of music." Billy Dunn has one of those warm sophisticated voices and plays a whole lot of piano. He did some mildly double-entendre lyrics and showed a lot of the jazzy blues quality of early fifties blues/R&B. Billy should be out there with a small combo doing Charles Brown, Wynonie Harris, and Percy Mayfield type material. I don’t understand why he doesn’t have a regular hotel lounge gig; he’s that warm, personable, and good.

Next up was Layce Baker with his touring band with a remarkable appearance by a 12-year-old guitar prodigy.
Layce with his tour band puts on a more flash show with more funk sounds and flashy licks. Playing with him was Gabriel _________, a remarkable 12 year old that plays with a combination of old time economy and Jimi Hendrix licks. This was an all too short set.

We’d noticed the "Hat" man with the sharp brim and the ultra sharp hatband. Terri had been there the day before and had gone with Big Dave Z to get a hat. She knew who the hat man was and said," C’mon, you gotta go see the hat man and get a hat." So at the break we walked into the old downtown again and went to the now open espresso café—which is also a hat store in the back. The hat man has brims! The kind that blues guys like, both dress and straw. Terri bought one for her son’s birthday. A flash porkpie hat. The hat man sprays all hats with water repellant, and you get a free satin pocket hankie too.

And he’s got ladies hats with real wedding, funeral, and royal coronation flash like blues ladies like. Chris couldn’t quite get herself to buy the one that made her look like the Duchess of Argyle. I got myself a wide brim straw fedora with a braided band for the coming summer. Nice feather.

Then it was Alvon time with the non-stop Alvon commentary on the state of the world, love, and why in the world weren’t we all up front dancing? Alvon never stops and is a ball of fire both vocally and on the guitar. We sat and watched the whole thing for a while just because it’s Alvon, life, love, and Alvon. It was a crazy fun time and we finally got out there to dance. Alvon said, "You just dancing now? Now that my set is almost over? You gotta do something with your life!" I’m ready for more crazy Alvon and the fabulous Alvon voice and hot guitar real soon. If he’d been appearing anywhere near us that night we would have gone.

The Caravan of Allstars came back on and it was Little Junior time. Junior was decked in a cream chartreuse suit the shade of the first 1950s "designer" Kelvinator refrigerators, along with matching gold jewelry, hair, socks, shoes, and gloves with gold rings outside the gloves. He probably forgot the matching spats at home. After about three soul songs filled with gestures and attitude he was off.

And as the sun began to think about going down it was Chick Willis time. Chick proved to be one hot guitarist and a lot of fun. Chick being the writer and creator of the whole "Stoop Down Baby" thing (he sold a couple of million copies without it ever getting on the radio) had some songs about S-E-X to do and he did ‘em right.

Starting on stage and looking over the ladies dancing he did a fine funny "Let Me Play With Your Poodle." Lis, who’d been dancing up a storm, was out in front of the stage working through her steps. Chick announced that he was looking for poodle girls to sing to. He checked the front row, saw Lis, and said, "Ahh!" Lis became the first Poodle Girl of the night. Chick walked the crowd using a wireless rig and really hitting some fine hot licks. His show was a lot of fun, and there were several "Poodle Girls", all of who seemed to get the same pleased bashful smile.

Chick’s finale was naturally, "Stoop Down Baby (let your Daddy see!)" his underground hit of the very early 70s. The ladies streamed out of their chairs to dance. We weren’t disappointed either, the band was hot (Bobby Webb on tenor sax) and the congas and drums were going full blast. The dancing got really heavy right about then.

As dusk came on the Caravan backed Wylie Trass on a set of fine jump blues, and then it Willie G. time and Willie was really feeling on and performing all over the place. Willie is one guy that’s gotta move around when he sings. And move he did—right out into the crowd. You don’t miss anything since he’s about six foot two and wears a ten-gallon hat. He sang a mix of blues and jump tunes that was a lot of fun. Love can be tough on a man. This was a fine closer for the show, we were all in the glow of a good festival and the band was smooth. The crowd was mostly still there and with the last announcement everybody packed up and left at about 7:00. The City of Pittsburg should be proud of this festival; it’s a good one.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2005

Mz. Dee's Groove Team at the Flamingo! 5/27/05

I am so glad I finally went to check out this "other-than-blues" band at one of their Flamingo gigs in Santa Rosa.

Warned that it was mostly R&B, Rock and other top 40 covers, I was promised some blues if I showed and Blues we got!!

Thanks, Anthony.

Walking in and looking on stage, I thought, "How can this band be anything other than blues??!!"

Paul Revelli on drums.
Tim "The Iceman" Wager on bass.
Tony Lufrano on keys.
Anthony Paule on guitar.
And of course, Mz Dee singing her heart out!!

It was real quiet in that place. But the lobby and conference rooms up front were packed!!
An AA convention was going on. An Hispanic AA convention, or something. I didn't know until someone told me that's what it was. I'm surprised I didn't catch it when I passed the coffee set up in the lobby and all the smokers outside. I remember doing lots of those meetings with my sister, and coffee is gold at those things. Caffeine and Nicotine.
The coffee bar was hoppin!

So, I walk to the back where the lounge is, and the place is almost empty.
We had that whole big dance floor to ourselves.
We heard blues, blues, and more blues in the beginning. Then it got into some other covers in the R&B, rock, and Funk genres, but that band was on it!!
What a chemistry they have. I don't care what they call themselves, they are so awesome together.
This is the very band I go to see when it's called Anthony Paule featuring Mz. Dee.
Only this time, it was less blues.
It was enough to keep me entertained. Somewhat.
I don't think I've ever heard Paul Revelli sing!!

We were on the floor, waiting for another song, it was quiet when we heard Tony say, "let's do a shuffle" and we yelled out and cheered "Alright!! A shuffle!!" It got a few laughs.

Shoot, at this point, I was happy to hear "Sweet Home Chicago!"
We all danced happily and sang along.

Anthony opened the second set with an instrumental, the title song off his cd 'Big Guitar' and it was killer!!!
Man...can that guy play!!

Tim was enjoying himself doing some other than blues bass lines. He is just so darn good.

The whole band is top notch and an allstar cast.

Then there's Mz. Dee. I just love her style. Her presence on stage, her voice, the tunes she picks to sing she can really belt them out. She has a smokey voice. It's sexy and sweet. She is one classy lady. I especially love it when she does Christine Vitale's songs. Christine, Anthony's wife I think, writes some real wonderful songs.

I will be back to hear this band when they come back to town next month.
How could I not go out and support a band such as this?
These bay area all stars, right here in our own backyard!! I would go tonight but other things are going on.

I say one thing....when they played the blues, it got lots of cheers and applause from our small but mighty group of blues lovers.

Here's to shuffles.....
Give me a shuffle, any shuffle will do. Just as long as it's downhome blues!!

Thank you Flamingo for booking some bluesy stuff and Thank You Mz Dee, Anthony, Tim, Paul, and Tony for one great evening of music. You guys are the best.


Posted by Mo at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

Sonoma Co. Thursday Blues!!

I went to Sonny Lowe's Blues thang he has on Thursday's at Jasper's.
Is there such a thing as too much of a good thang?
While I was dancing to "Just a teeny-weenie bit...",I decided, Yes!

I think next week, if I go out during the week, it'll be something different. Just to mix it up a bit.
Besides...David Burke leaves the stage and disappears for practically
the whole second set like he doesn't want to play. What's the point for me to go if not for that guitar. You know me.....;-)
Fine....you want to let people sit in, that's cool, but I can do two sets and that's it. It's already a three hour sleep night when going out to these things. I sure ain't gonna lose sleep for a jam, sorry. I'm not a musician.

That first set was so good. They did a few "fresh" covers that I have never heard them play before including "Tangaruey".

The whole band is just TIGHT!!
Sonny sounding great as well as Tall Paul and James Foster.

The second set , the stage totally changed with Jake Mackey on guitar, his Father on drums, Evan Morgan on guitar, Mike Gutsch on drums and Steve Fromberg on bass, and a couple of trombone players.
Mike Gutsch and Steve Fromberg make up one bad ass rhythm section.

I left after that second set. I was a tired. Especially tired of waiting and wondering if ever......

I did notice they put the portrait of the Founder, "Jasper' back up on the wall.
I never even noticed it before, it being buried in all sorts of crap on the wall.
Now it's up and hangs by itself, in the open.

The crowd got thick around 11pm and the floor filled. Fun people that go to this thing on Thursday's.
Thank You Vinnie for bringing us some Blues at your establishment.

Thank you Sonny for hosting a great night of blues even though I won't stop whining about "not enough guitar" from your guitarist.
Sonny is a fine host.

Work was tough and I was asking myself all day at work why I do this to myself??!!
It's all for the love of our live blues scene but mostly it's for selfish reasons and that's to get my blues guitar fix!!
Especially that guitar of David Burke. It
puts me in a frenzy and it satisfies. When he's up there that is.
Maybe next time.....

But, don't pay no mind to me folks. I am a blues guitar junkie that is NEVER satisfied. the show is great fun and fullof great dancable blues!! All the musicians are great and the crowd that goes to hear it.
Go hear for yourself. See ya next Thursday!!

Posted by Mo at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

From the Used Bin 4: flipping through the racks

No, I don't have any idea why someone would sell these--but I sure bought them "Cheap" in the used bins.

I've wanted Roy Gaines' "Bluesman for Life" for a while but have never seen it for sale in the regular bins. JSP recordings from England are semi-rare in California. I love Roy Gaines and think he's very under-rated. Zowie, there it was in the used racks! This one has his outrageous strutting study of womanizing on it: "Sweet Pig Poker (a/k/a Pig Poking Man)." Hush, Roy's gonna solo now. How does he get his tone to be cutting and mellow at the same time?

Fantasyland time: Buddy Guy and Junior Wells have a broken radiator hose, and while the guy at the gas station down at the crossroads is fixing it, Buddy and Junior accept our invite to sit under the shade tree. Buddy gets out his 6 and 12 string Guilds, and he and Junior play for us, running through about 15 mostly classic blues tunes.
That's what this 1981 set, "Alone and Acoustic", originally recorded as a quick one-shot for the French Isabel label is like (now on Alligator in North America). If you're looking for flash, this ain't it. It's unpretentious and the guys go downhome and into their memories of old blues. "The big boat's up the river, on a bank of sand, ...." Only for those who've been around the blues for a while, Junior and Buddy play "Catfish", "Rollin' And Tumblin'", "I'm In The Mood (for Love)", "Boogie Children", "My Home Is On The Delta", and a bunch more.
I've listened to this CD a lot. I've been 'stealing' things from it. Buddy and Junior put on an understated master class for serious blues fans and musicians. Probably not for casual and new fans who don't get the nuances and the simplicity, and the space Buddy and Junior leave. Recommended.

I’d seen Larry Garner's name in the magazines, so I took a chance—and wound up with one of my favorite CDs: "Once Upon The Blues". One of the great songwriters of the blues writes about life, love, crazy dancers at the juke joint ("She Would Jump!"), rotten drivers on the interstate ("Slower Traffic Keep Right"), kleptomaniacs ("I took her shopping at a TG&Y, she came out with a home entertainment center between her thighs"), and computer viruses. Blues for modern times by a real Baton Rouge bluesman.

What can I say, in "Standing Room Only", there are more stories from life by the storyteller of the blues. Play 'em Larry! Includes 'politically correct' songs about PMS and the swell life out in the country where everybody steals all your stuff. Another great cheap find!

I can't go on this way, with my sick love for Irma Thomas. She needs me so much and I'm such a bastard and I hurt her so much and she goes on loving me and singing about it. Oh God Irma. I won't even try to explain, I’ve loved Irma since I was a very young man. This collection of her classics has a special spot in my collection. In the depths of winter I dream of going to her restaurant in New Orleans.

I'm not too much of a Northern Soul fan, I likes mine Southern and greasy, But I make a big exception for Marvin Gaye. Must have been his growing up in his Daddy's holyroller church. And some of those early classics are so bluesy--"That's the Way Love Is" is a powerhouse. And the later stuff is great and "Trouble Man" has become a blues standard.

This is wild and crazy blues and rock'n'roll of the west Texas type. Hilarious and really influential on all the roadhouse bands, the Fabulous Thunderbirds knew all this stuff. If you like the western style of blues this is hot! This is a postcard from another time and place in a wild Juarez bar. Recommended. This CD should have been on the Handy Historical Album Nomination list.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

From the Used Bin 3: John Lee Hooker's 60s "Folkie" CDs

In the 60s I bought a record called Blues at Newport. I learned much from that record. It has outstanding songs and performance on it. John Lee Hooker was in his prime then and his acoustic work superb, his songwriting strong, and his singing beyond description. Warm and personal, it’s goosebump stuff. It's been reissued on CD and I'll buy the CD one of these days. Other Newport-series records on Vanguard had John Lee Hooker live on them with one or two other songs each, again superb. Over time I learned that there were other John Lee Hooker 'Newport' recordings and I wanted them.

There it was in the used racks, with a slightly beat case, looking at me, with a $8.00 sticker. I took it home.

Sometimes I put this on the player and hit the repeat button and play it for hours. It makes me pick up the guitar and play old time dirtfoot licks. The great Bill Lee is playing bass on a lot of it. I don't know how it could get any warmer or more in the living room or more out on the porch.
Hooker in the glory of his early maturity connecting with an audience and you, introducing songs, letting Bill take solos, holding an audience in his hand. Two versions of Tupelo, two versions of Hobo Blues, an incredible Natchez Fire, and incredible microphone nuzzling as he sings, "When you walk that walk and talk that talk." Stop me now! "Stop Baby, I can't take it when you touch me, when you hold me that way!"

Now I gotta find the CD (old VJ record) called "Concert at Newport" which has different versions and other songs.

and of course, the one that started it all for me-

The above CDs highlight John Lee Hooker's 1960s work in the almost unaccompanied "folk" idiom. Hooker himself near the end of his long life said the "coffeehouse" was one of his favorite periods, "I could just show up with my guitar and connect with the peoples."

Legend has it that this 1959 acoustic album was supposed cash in on the developing folk boom and its awareness of Leadbelly. Hooker came into the studio and didn't know any of Texan Leadbelly's tunes. The producers were upset. John said "Here's what I know." and proceeded to take them back to Clarksdale in the 30s and Memphis in the 40s. Spare, controlled, and a little bit scary.

There are more solo folk John Lee Hooker CDs, they’re all powerful and worth grabbing from the used racks.

Fantasy page of Riverside and Specialty label John Lee Hooker recordings
Fantasy: John Lee Hooker

One of these days I'll write about the John Lee Hooker 60s VeeJay recordings that blew doors off. Boom, Boom, Boom!

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

From The Used Bin 2: A great pre-war set

There they were in the used racks waiting for me. Wow! a four CD jukebox of some of the most important blues of the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Even if you don't like "pre-war" blues this should knock your socks off. You'll have to forgive the slightly stupid name of this four CD series: "The Secret History of Rock and Roll." It was a Promo title from the Year Of The Blues. The first one starts with the original recording of Robert Petway's "Catfish Blues" that so many have done, and that Muddy Waters partly remade into "Rolling Stone. The original "Baby, Please Don't Go" by Big Joe Williams and the original "Walk Right In" by Cannon's Jug Stompers is here too, with twice the voltage of the 60s folkie re-make.

I'd heard that a lot of the great songs I'd grown up with like Elmore's "When Things Go Wrong With You" and B.B.'s "How Blue Can You Get" came from earlier originals, I wasn't prepared for just how good the originals are.

Man, is the sound good on these! These were all on the RCA Victor label or it’s Bluebird label and they were recorded right. Lots of downhome stuff on the first two volumes (including the ones re-made into hits by the 60s rockers), lots of great "Bluebird" Chicago stuff including piano blues on Vol. III, and great pre-chess stuff on Vol. IV. (Big Boy Crudup kills!).

100 great tunes. Recommended. I got these pretty cheap used, if I know the RCA Victor people they'll disappear soon and this stuff will be unavailable again. Watch for them cheap.
Tracks for all four volumes are here: Tracks

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

From the Used Bin 1

From the Used Bin: Adventures of a blues hound

I love the used bins at our two remaining independent record stores, The Last Record Store, and Backdoor Records and Tapes (alas for the Music Coop moving to Southern Oregon). I go to Last Record Store the most. I don’t do it too often, I go crazy like a sailor his first night ashore.

One typical venture from a year or so ago: It was one of those damn shopping days. I approached it like MacArthur reconquering the Philippines. This time it was the big periodic food shop, object: bulk food for stocking freezers and kids. I'm a cost conscious shopper who goes with a plan and budget in mind. I don't like to wander around feeling things. First it’s Costco for bulk items in a warehouse. Hundreds of dollars later off to Food 4 Less for everything not already loaded into the pickup. Hundreds of dollars later I left strip malls and mass parking lots behind. Having peeked twice into the dungeon of my wallet and discovered the secret rewards of thrift, blues money, I made a beeline to The Last Record Store.

Shock! After many years as one of the great stores of Downtown Santa Rosa, the landlord refused to renew the Last Record Store's lease having other plans (a year later it’s still vacant). I got there in the last hour in the old location and went right to the used racks. Bonanza! It's always pretty good but this time there was simply too much to buy. Cleaning up to move had put a lot of good stuff into the used and clearance bins.

People ask why anyone would part with these finds I bought. I've had a few answers; mostly economic-people need the money. Now I'm forced to say, I just don't know. I can speculate that some are too "out there" for the casual blues fan, but how did they come by these in the first place? Several of the CDs below are Handy Nominee CDs and the Jessie Mae Hemphill CD won the Handy in 1993 and is considered like gold now that "Hill Country" blues (a la Fat Possum Records) are big and "discovered".

The North Mississippi Hills

new cover:
This is one of Jessie Mae Hemphill's two albums before her stroke in 1993. She was getting notice then. And North Mississippi Hill Country fans this is it! Jessie Mae is the great Sid Hemphill's daughter, one of the great drummers, and a fine stylist. A really fine singer in the old style, and you can tell she grew up next door to Fred McDowell. A fine CD if you have the hots for the southern style and North MS. Second picture is of the old-style Handy Award she won for this CD in 1993.

This is a field recording of Fred doing everything from traditional folk "John Henry" to Ray Charles's "I Got A Woman." And all of it sounding very North Mississippi and all Fred. Wow. It’s on Fat Possum now. Recommended for all folkie, country bluesers, and North Miss. types. A Handy Nominee CD.

In the late 60’s I happened on an old time Berkeley Folkie Record store going out of business. I bought as much of their blues section (filled with now classic records) as I could afford, and I wish I’d bought more. Among them were beat-up copies of Alan Lomax’ field recordings, including the 1959 trip that found Fred McDowell in Como, Mississippi. Fred got about three songs each on those old LPs. There it was staring at me in the Used Blues rack at Last Record Store: ‘FRED MCDOWELL: THE FIRST SESSIONS’. I had to have both versions of "Keep your Lamps Trimmed and Burning" and Fred’s downhome rendition of "Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl."

This is a Fat Possum Records compilation of some of Junior Kimbrough's best stuff and it's really good. North Mississippi modal drone-trance style to the core. It includes the great pleading "Meet Me In The City." Recommended for those who can dig the North Mississippi style. A Handy Nominee CD.

"Going Back to the Lowlands"

Back to the Delta and Memphis with Big Jack.
Boy is this good! Big Jack and Kim Wilson do acoustic blues and they do them right! Pinetop Perkins joins them for a couple of swell tunes, and they have a drummer for a couple. Jack and Kim do stuff all the way back to plantation times ("Git Along Little Cindy"), from the Wolf and Delta tradition ("Smokestack Lightnin'"), Little Walter, Elmore James, and others, and some of Big Jack's originals based on Delta tradition. And Kim really plays the harp. Delicious. Recommended. Again, A Handy Award.

Joe Louis Walker plays acoustic blues in Memphis on "Silvertone Blues", with help from Alvin Youngblood Hart, James Cotton, and Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, and kills! Mostly duets in classic style, Joe wrote all the songs except one Robert Nighthawk tune. Recommended. A Handy Nominee in 1999 or 2000.

Going to Chicago

Sonny Boy (II) Williamson's output was all 78 or 45 rpm singles, he died at the dawn of blues LPs. This is one of the collections of singles Chess put out relatively late. It's all singles between 1955 when he signed with Chess, and 1962 just before he first went to Europe. I'm resolved now to buy almost anything the greatest surrealistic poet of the blues ever put out. I didn't go wrong with "One Way Out." It has two or three tunes that are on his greatest hits and 'essential' compilations. The rest are just as wild and crazy! And that great harp and the backing by either the Muddy Waters band or by the Robert Lockwood/Willie Dixon/Fred Below studio band! Superb. Recommended. The version of "One Way Out" is done rhumba style and there’s plenty other craziness here. This CD shows why Sonny Boy was on the automatic first induction list of the Blues Hall of Fame.

This CD, "Cold Day In Hell", is maybe Otis Rush’s fourth best and is hard to find (Delmark Records). There it was, I didn’t think twice. Otis is one of the great guitarists with a strange too-small output. This early 1970s CD shows why Otis has problems, the first song "Cut You Loose" is awful (Otis is out of tune), the rest of "Cold Day In Hell" is first rank with incredible emotional guitar playing.

Among the things I couldn't afford: an autographed copy of " The [Malaco] Best of Little Milton"; early CDs of James Armstrong, etc., etc. I would have needed $250 just for the first line stuff. So, since I had to make choices at the record store, I went to Memphis, Chicago, and the Hill Country in my heart.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2005

Alabama Mike and Third Degree!! 5/22/05

Had a great time with the Sunday Afternoon Blues at The Ivy Room, in Albany. A short 45 minute drive that crosses the Richmond bridge, the left exit before the maze and you're there!!

Went to see Alabama Mike and "The Third Degree band" which consisted of Scott Silvera on drums, Tom Bowers on bass and Anthony Paule on guitar!!

I had heard some great things about Mike's singing but what got me there to finally hear for myself was the fact that Anthony Paule was gonna be there on guitar. He has been a favorite of mine for some time. If you haven't noticed by now, I have to come clean and say that I am a blues guitar junkie. Anthony is one of a collective few who can give me that fix.
Hearing is believing.

Alabama Mike is a real fine singer.
Listening to his voice, with this awesome blues band behind him, is like a trip back in time. It was mesmerizing.
I can't wait to hear his new cd when it's out. I heard it's got a killer cast!!

Even though it was a fabulous line up of musicians up there on stage, I could've just listened to that guitar work of Anthony's all afternoon. And well into the evening too!!
And if that wasn't enough (and it wasn't) I had to take his cds to work with me today for the drive there, and at work, and the way back.
Real sweet stuff.

Not sure where he came from but it sure is nice to have this Alabama Mike around. I love his voice, seems to surround himself with some fine choices of musicians, great choice of songs that really lets his voice shine, and some original songs too!
I will be on the lookout for him again!!
You think Anthony's his regular guitarist?

I was pretty wiped out after three days of literally poundin' the cement.
All the dancefloors I was on over the weekend had cement floors.
1351 Lounge, Russian River brewery, and the Ivy Room. It's hard on the old legs.

This Friday, I'm gonna check out "Groove Team" with Mz.Dee and Anthony Paule. Not sure who else is in the band.
They are at the Flamingo Friday and Saturday. I was warned that it was R&B covers as well as some other "top 40" stuff but was promised some blues if I was seen. That was cool.
I'd go anyway just because these two together are awesome and I have been curious about them in this particular band. And shoot...it's right here in Santa Rosa.

But...I have to say...nuthin' beats The Anthony Paule Band featuring Mz. Dee!!!

Thanks again Tom Bowers for the heads up on the show line up!!

Thank you Ivy Room for having this afternoon of blues. Complete with BBQ and I'm pretty sure it was free!!!

Hope they keep 'em going but hell....if no one shows up, what do you expect??

See ya'll Thursday at Jasper's for MORE of that Sonny Lowe and his top notch blues band!!

Keep your eyes peeled for Alabama Mike and do get out to hear him.


Posted by Mo at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

The Aces at Russian River Brewing, 5/21/05

The Russian River Brewery on 4th Street in Santa Rosa is a concrete walled concrete floored brewpub just getting started with weekend entertainment. They’ve hung hops sacks from suspended rods on the eastern wall and built the band a carpeted wooden riser in the corner. The dance floor and a lot of walls remain concrete or reflective surfaces. Sound is hard and sharp in the room, with the conversational buzz level high.

With a clientele of heavily 20-somethings either engaged in the pre-mating ritual, attempting to be, or in groups of twos and threes looking, the focus wasn’t really on the music. Almost any band would have been fine with a majority of the audience. I saw several blues and dance people and they were near the dance floor.

The Aces have been out of commission for a while and sometimes the rust showed. The "Punk Blues Band with Attitude" hasn’t played much in recent times. Their PA wasn’t up to the task; you couldn’t hear the vocals in that sound environment. I’ve heard Derek Irving really fly on guitar, and he showed flashes of that at this gig. The Aces have more gigs coming and Derek will work the rust off. When he’s doing flash he really can sell those licks. I particularly like the slide work, it changes the way the band sounds and they have a really strong ensemble sound then.

I’m used to seeing David Burke at Jasper’s on Thursday night doing leads and rhythm guitar, in the Aces he plays "guitar bass" as the Aces have no bassist. He does a magnificent job and really gets a lot of attitude into it, standing with his feet in the A-frame "Elvis spread." He really gets a thump out of that telecaster too, sort of like Brewer Phillips did with Hound Dog Taylor.

Mike Gutsch is unusual as a drummer: he plays standing up. His bass drum playing is steady from that unusual position. He’s visually much more a part of the show that way since he’s so much more visible moving and swaying as he plays. He really held things together in the sound environment. The basic bash-bash-bash of this punk blues band came from him and David Burke.

Sky O’Bannion when he’s on and operating is a powerful singer and harp player. His chromatic harp playing early on was strong and inventive. As the evening progressed Sky got in to his showmanship rolling-on-the-floor routine and some of the edge in his vocals was lost and his harp playing lessened. I did enjoy his Howling Wolf work playing the harp sticking out of his mouth.

The crowd was initially not dancing so blues regulars got to dance. As the young crowd got more lubricated they began to dance and girls began to dance even if the even if the young white guys wouldn’t (they mostly don’t know how). Huge numbers of people never danced at all but stayed glued to their tables or circulated up and down the bar. Large young guys with bald heads sat near me the entire evening never moving, working on their scowls. As people began to dance more and more the young and bald started to look uneasy like they were missing something.

I had a pretty fun night and I look forward to further improvements at the Russian River Brewing Co., you can see they’re trying and I hear they are getting their own P.A. for the hall. With more sound deadening for the reflecting treble and standing waves they’ll really have something. The bare concrete floor is hard to dance on for too long; maybe they’ll get some parquet for that area.

I’m definitely looking forward to more Aces gigs. As they get back into the swing of performing they’ll really pick up the flow and be their raunchy selves again. They’re back at the Russian River Brewery June eleventh.

The Aces out-of-date website is here

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

Metro Fountain Blues Festival, San Jose State, 5/14/05

Metro Fountain Blues Festival, San Jose State, 5/14/05

This time I pushed a bit for a road trip. A couple of weeks ahead I brought the subject up to Mo, driver of the blues van. "I dunno, that’s a long way." "Yeah, but it’s a great lineup." I left it at that and waited. Sure enough, the email came asking if there was interest. There was and, unusually leaving at 8:30 in the morning, off Mo, Terri, Dee, and myself went with full equipment and sufficient food for a scout troop on the three hour drive nearly the length of the Bay Area.

Did I say good lineup? Starting the show was David Jacobs-Strain, new young gun of the acoustic/semi-acoustic branch of the blues. Next was rising star Lara Price with her talked-about guitarist Laura Chavez. Mighty Craig Horton, with his soulful meld of the old and new and his hot guitar. Guitar master Chris Cain who we don’t see often enough. Tommy Castro with his smile and band. And far, far from last, and never least, the goddess diva, Etta James.

After wandering the confusing streets in the area of San Jose State, we found the free parking structure and made it into the festival grounds. For the first time in twenty-five years the festival asked for a donation of five dollars. For that lineup I paid right away. We set up the chairs and blanket right on the front portion of the lawn about twenty-five feet back from the stage and it’s concrete apron/dance floor. Next time we won’t get quite so close.

David Jacobs-Strain is a hot young player with a talked about CD out right now. During the making of the CD his band came together and they are hot. David does some great old Delta numbers his way. I particularly remember "The Girl I’m Lovin’ Got Great Long Curly Hair", a real send up on Sleepy John Estes, including getting Brownsville Blues in there too. "Kokomo Me Baby" was another hot one.

Lara Price sings the blues because she’s meant to. A small woman with a huge voice, she can belt or purr. She can sing of lost love and bad lovers like the classic blues queens do, or strut and demand. A petite pretty woman, she’s definitely not portraying a victim. She opened her set with a huge rich vocal on "I Just Want To Make Love To You!" It was so powerful and her voice so full of harmonics that I raised my hands in the air, fell back in a chair, and yelled "Take me!"

Adding to the power was the driving Lara Price Band, a hard working group with an emerging star in hot guitarist Laura Chavez. Laura was getting big cheers with solos. She makes great faces as she plays, and she should. She looks fully engaged in playing.

Craig Horton came on as I was off buying records at Blue Beat’s stand. His opening guitar solo fired up the crowd and I hurried back to the blanket. Middle aged women were pushing forward and getting in tight to the stage. Calls of "That’s right!’ came from the crowd and the band leaned forward behind Craig. It’s a fine band too, with Henry Oden on bass, Steve Gannon on guitar, and Billy Mo on drums.

When Craig did "Elizabeth" off his new CD-

"I got a girl named Elizabeth
That woman moved way across town, (2X)
Why did you leave me baby
Why you didn’t tell me you was trying to put me down.

Ohh, I want to love you baby
Just like a man want a cigarette (2x)
If a man walk a mile for a cigarette
I’d walk a thousand miles for you
(c Craig Horton)

the sighs and the calls of "I’ll take you, Baby!" could be heard from very established-looking ladies. Craig has a very appealing vocal delivery. His hot guitar solos got people fired up, he has that down home feel.

Craig sang several songs off his new CD. I connected with "Life of Luxury" –"…everybody thinks I’m rich now…" –a wry look at the swell life and social pressure of the pro musician. It was a warm personal set.

Chris Cain plays a whole lot of guitar, a whole lot. Chris is a known guy—but not nearly enough. A wild friendly stage presence, a big bass voice and guitar licks from heaven make for one hell of a show. Guitar lick follows different lick, Chris pulls things from his guitar, his body in motion, his fingers all over the fretboard making the big brown guitar sing.

I could almost never see Chris on stage for the press of bodies. His fantastic solos drew people to the front. Pushing up against my chair was a young semi-leather punk couple. I’d seen them come to the front several times, each time more into the blues and more focussed to the stage. They were clearly having their minds re-channeled and getting the blues bug. Chris delivered another big hot solo and the young guy’s mouth fell open. I felt the same way. Chris is just so warm and masterful and in love with playing.

Tommy Castro put in one of his better sets, really connecting with playing, and really happy with the day and the crowd and his memories of San Jose. Tom Poe, the fine trumpeter joined his usual lineup and the full horn section really brought a more soulful feel to Tommy’s songs. He did a bunch from his new CD, and several classics. Within a few songs we were hit with the TC effect: trampled by Barbies in pink shorts or tight pants. They seemed to regard us as being inappropriate in having a sit down area. It got kind of funny, Tommy would do "the grin" and they would bob up and down.

I will forgive Etta James almost anything. Since I found "Tell Mama" on the jukebox in that crummy restaurant (twelve quarters, I played it over and over) in 1967 I’ve been hooked. I’d become used to seeing a really large Etta, so it’s really good to see her 150 pounds lighter and able to walk small distances and move around on stage. Move she does, often with a certain intent. Etta did her classic show of great blues standards aided and abetted by the fine Roots Band with great solos from guitarist Bobby Murray and Dave ("one t") Mathews on keyboards. Etta can do that Jimmy Reed medley for me anytime. Etta and the band had just come from a series of casino gigs and seemed really knocked out over the completely positive crowd cheering good solos and great vocals.

But of course, it’s the Etta James classics I want to hear and she did "I Want A Sunday Kind Of Love", seemingly just for me:

"I want a Sunday kind of love
A love to last past Saturday night
And I'd like to know that it's more than love at first sight
I want a Sunday kind of love

I want a love that's on the square
Can't seem to find somebody
Someone to care
And I'm all alone on a road that leads to no where
I need a Sunday kind of love"
(c Bell, Prima)

And of course, she did "At Last" with its immortal opening line,

"At last, my love has come along…"

There was no encore; Etta’s health is guarded like a treasure by her family. The glow was left behind.

Thanks to the Metro Fountain Blues Festival (25th Anniversary too) and San Jose State for another great festival. This Festival is a one day treasure, don’t tell anybody so it doesn’t get too big.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2005

The Russian River Brewery w/The Aces

Ventured out to the new Russian River Brewery. My first time there and my first time seeing The Aces in a looong while.

The Brewery is cool. Nice sound, a small dance area in front of the stage, great beer made there, food, all ages, you can take your drinks outside on the sidewalk to socialize and smoke( which is almost on the street) just a real good feel there. I love the whole vibe.
I will be back for sure.

The Aces sounded alright. Not one of there best gigs.
Skye O'Bannon was there on harp and vocals.
Derek Irving was there and not what I remember.
The two that held it together....David Burke on Rhythm/bass and Mike Gutsch on drums.
Not sure why Mike has decided to stand while playing drums but I love the effect!!
It is a steady thumpin' groove that has that Mississippi Delta groove but with an attitude. Mike and David kept the pelvic thrust going and the feet a stompin'!!

That David Burke is just so amazing!
The way he keeps the bass lines and rhythm going on the same guitar.
It was the driving force behind this band.
I wish I could better describe his style and playing.

Skye- when he's on it, is just simply one of the best singers to bring out those real suicidal tendencies. It's so lowdown...Someone please put me out of my misery now!!
What a feeling of despair.

Derek didn't have that bite he usually does. This guy is amazing on that guitar when he's on it. Maybe he hasn't been picking it up in between the few gigs they have had.

Next time will be better, I'm sure. They
will be back there, next month, I think it is.

The dancers fun but not a great crowd as far as music appreciators. Hardly an applause after a song. Got to see some familiar blues lovin faces and that was cool.

They quit a midnight so I bailed and headed over to Cotati for some southern rock of Jackson Stone. I walked into sweet Lou's (The Inn of the beginning) and not an instrument to be found. I walked next-door to Spancky's and there he was. I heard he double booked himself at both venues.

So, I caught a set of southern fried rock and that was fun. He also did a Montrose song that I hardly ever hear, "Make it last".
He went into Freebird and it was ok but then it happened, the last part of that song that's really fast, the finale part,
it was killer. Once he stopped trying to sing into a mike that was pissing him off, and the band started rollin' and he wailed on that guitar, (which he plays real well BTW), the groove was found and we all went crazy on the dancefloor. And I despise "free Bird"
Great job guys!!
If you like Southern Fried Rock....Jackson Stone does it very well!!!

It was a fun night of Sonoma County blues. it feels great to be close to home.
I'm out of here again. Going to Terri's art reception (she does beautiful work) and then we're off to The Ivy Room!!

here I come Anthony...don't start without me!!!


Posted by Mo at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2005

Sonny Lowe’s Blues jam at Jasper’s, 5/12/05

"Jasper’s is back open" ran the word, "Sonny’s gonna have the Thursday Jam again!" I figured I go see what Jasper’s looked like now and if things have changed.

Jasper’s is one heck of a lot cleaner now, all the decayed beer company streamers and left over St. Paddy’s Day decorations are gone and the walls have lost their cobwebs. I got a Sierra pint from Vinnie the new owner (and former lead singer in a reggae band).

Looking at the bandstand, only the drums were set up at 9:00 and Jake Mackey was fooling with the drum set up. I didn’t see any of Jake’s guitars. In typical fashion Sonny Lowe, David Burke, and Tall Paul the bassman walked in and set up without comment; it was then I realized that Jake was the drummer! Sonny said to Jake, "You play everything else, please tell me you don’t play harmonica?" Jake gave him a big grin and said, "Yeah, I do, not as good though--yet." Sonny just shook his head.

David Burke, looking like he had a black cloud over him, cranked his guitar and they began with Wolf’s "I didn’t know." Right from the first Burke was hot and had that raw ‘Wolf’ sound. "I’m Ready" with Sonny sounding organ-like on chromatic harp and an aggressive guitar solo from David really cut through and people started gathering by the bandstand and dancing. Face after familiar face came in the back door until about half the blues and dance regulars were in the house.

Right here I have to rave about David "Curly" Burke. What a great singer and guitar player! Whether "Someday Baby" or "Backdoor Man" the guy has the blues pipes and the tough sounding guitar to really take it places. What a talent, too bad he hates to travel. I guess he’ll remain a Sonoma County secret. Sonny and David and the guys worked their way through a whole set of classics done their way. Jake proved to be a solid basic drummer, and Tall Paul was his competent self on bass. We were dancing hard now and there was a good crowd for a Thursday.

After a long, long break, David started playing Wolf’s "Who’s Been Talking" and the others jumped back on the stand. Burke is one guy who can do Wolf; he has the vocal power for it. And the personal engagement for it.

My baby caught the train
Left me all alone
My baby caught the train
Left me all alone
She knows I love her
She doin' me wrong

My baby bought the ticket
Long as her right arm
My baby bought the ticket
Long as my right arm
She says she's gonna ride
Long as I been from home

Well, who been talking
Everything that I do
Well, who been talking
Everything that I do
Well, you is my baby
I hate to lose
(C. Burnett)

After several more powerful tunes, including a heartfelt "Oh Baby, You Don’t Need Me Like I Need You", other leading Sonoma County musicians began to join the band and the base group sat out. Sonny’s Jam is NOT an open jam, only recognized musicians known to the band sit in. It is an opportunity for the musicians to get to play together. Several musicians got to show their chops. Levi Lloyd sat in and did a fine job on Magic Sam’s "I Don’t Want It All (I just want a little bit)" with it’s funky riff.

The base band got back on stage and did several fine tunes; then Skye O’Bannion joined them. With a big chromatic tone Skye did a knock out jump rhythm "OH Baby, This Ain’t Too Good" and then did an outstanding slow drag Sonny Boy "Keep Your Hands Out My Pockets (I ain’t got nothing for you)". It was marinated in blues.

The last break started dragging on again and I decided to go home and get some sleep. Sonny, ya gotta do something about those breaks, you’ll lose the audience. A fine night and I’m real happy Jasper’s is back with new knowledgeable management, and I’m happy Sonny is back with his jam. It’s quietly one of the highlights of the Sonoma County scene. Thursday nights — be there!

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

Andy Santana and the West Coast Playboys at 1351 Lounge, 5/20/05

There it was on 1351’s calendar as I was compiling the Sonoma Tune’s calendar: Andy Santana. I’ve seen Andy’s name for years, always appearing at a joint to the south of me. I’d only seen him sitting in for a few numbers at Benefits. I knew from that he was a good harp player and singer, but I was clear I’d never seen him do his thing on his own. This was too good to miss and I highlighted it on the calendar.

The roadtrip call went out and Mo, Lis, Big Dave Z, and I rode over the Mayacamas to St. Helena in the Blues van. As always I had that feeling of sadness for what St. Helena’s become from the nice country town it was in the 70s. The 1351 Lounge is about 15 feet wide and 120 feet long. The band is shoehorned into a back corner with the dancers right on top of them.

Andy started just as we got there and from the sidewalk I heard the sounds of swamp. I zipped in and got a seat and the happiness of them old blues washed over me. Andy played a whole set of tunes that were swamp or Little Walter and the band was just so funky and laid back. I hadn’t heard slow laidback like this in a long time; it took me back to when I was a kid downhome and the bartender at the Stumble Inn first let me sneak in the back.

This is a mean old world,
tryin' to live in by yourself
This is a mean old world,
tryin' to live in by yourself
Can't get the one you're lovin',
have to use somebody else

I've got the blues,
gonna pack my things and go
Yes, I've got the blues,
gonna pack my things and go
Well I guess you don't love me,
you're lovin' Mr. So-And-So

Sometime I wonder why,
can your love be so cold
Sometime I wonder why,
can your love be so cold
Seem like to me you don't want me,
I'm just an unlucky So-And-So
(Marion Walter Jacobs-"Little Walter")

Andy’s drummer hadn’t shown for the gig, but it was a few minutes before I really caught on that there wasn’t a drummer, the band was doing rhythm as thick as molasses. On guitar was Robert Sidwell of the Hucklebucks out of Sacramento, and bassist Mike Phillips holding down a whole lot of rhythm. Robert Sidwell did a magnificent job being Slim Harpo and Robert Lockwood on rhythm guitar. It was just so danceable in a downhome way. It was like little jukes and the crazy local blues band "Little Obie and the Creepers" when I was nineteen; your shoulders just wanted to do the pleasure hunch.

When Robert Sidwell cut loose on a solo he was a knockout, sharp and witty and still a part of the rhythm, his old P-90 LP dripping out the licks. Andy really got down in the alley with his harp playing and then broke out his old rebuilt Harmony H-64 and laid the wood on us with tough sounding rhythm licks and hard leads.

Man, this gig took me back to small bars on the wrong side of town and my old buddy Lionel playing the bass on his porch (Mama: "Lio-Nel, you boys play me some of those Lightnin’ numbers like "Black Cadillac!" "Aw Mama, why do you like those old things, you should listen to Archie Bell and Drells." "Well, I just like them.") Three guys sitting down and playing them old blues, it wasn’t flash at all. The contrast with the mirror ball and black lights of the 1351 was crazy and funny. The lights in the back were way down and everything white showed up purple.

Aww I'm itchin’
And I don't know where to scratch
Come here baby--Scratch my back
I know you can do it, so baby get to it

Aww you're workin with it now
You got me feelin' so good
Just lookin' up to the sun now baby
This little girl sho' knows how'd scratch

Now you're doin' the chicken scratch
Aww, its lookin' good baby
Just get to scratchin’
That's what I'm talkin' bout
(Slim Harpo)

I’d like to thank Andy Santana and the West Coast Playboys for an unexpected night and for really rising to the occasion and covering misfortune with professionalism and knowing the old ways. I loved it and so did the yuppy crowd. Big Dave was laughing, Mo was dancing, Lis danced and kept saying "I haven’t seen anything like this in years!" I tried to remember how to do the Uncle Willy up and down the floor.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 04:19 PM | Comments (2)

The New Jasper's/Sonny Lowe 5/19/05

I went out to Jasper's once again for Sonny Lowe's Jam.
It was so good the last Thursday night, I just had to do it again.
I will make this a Thursday night thang being it's so close to home, the Quality is top notch, and I'm just so happy that Jasper's is keeping the "live" music alive!!
After these last few months of venue shake-ups, I will never take them for granted again!!

Got there early (they start at 9:30 not 9pm), and the crowd was sparse. There was one gal there, sittin' at the bar, who obviously just saw the "new" Jasper's and was very upset. She went on and on about a portrait of "Jasper" that is now gone.
Like I mentioned a few posts back, They took much stuff off the walls and I'm sure most was that of memorabilia.

She was loud & clear on her feelings on why should they use the name and not leave the portrait hanging. It got to the point to where I think it was bothering Vinny, new owner and bar keep. The band hadn't started yet and he was behind the bar.
There could be lots of explanations as to why, but I was just happy they still have music!
Lots of it too.
The regulars are having a hard time accepting this change, it seems. I heard a few trivial complaints from a few regulars. Although, I heard none from musicians. There are plenty showing up, that's for sure!!

I guess I can understand because Tradewinds is set to reopen and I know it's gonna have a whole different feel with the shake up of management goin' on and all. We've even heard that it was sold and has new owners, but the strongest rumor is management changes.

At any rate...peekin' inside thru the dark windows, it feels different already.
But hey.... change is good and at least they're still havin' music. And let's hope the rumor of "Blues on weekends" at the Tradewinds is true!

So, the band got started and it was just as good as the last time, if not better.
James Foster was back on drummin' duty and this was great to see and hear.
No offense to Jake Mackey, who sat in last Thursday, but James is a groove monster you must admit ;-)

Jake would later get up and play guitar and sing, a whopping 4 or 5 songs with Steve Fromberg on bass and it was real good.

This guy Fromberg is one of the best bass players around. He can do anything. Kinda like James can do anything on them drums.

Steve Fromberg and Jake play together in the Jake Mackey Band and are set to play the Russian River brewery in a week or two. (Check Rolf's calendar)
Be ready for some Rockin' stuff although Jake can play them blues.
He has the same style as David on guitar even tho David ain't even rock, and is much more 'seasoned'. David is just so damn good, it's hard to compare him to anyone. Jake even announced his learning much from David Burke since he picked up the guitar and Thanked him for it. You can hear the influence.
Jake does write and his songs are where the rockness comes thru.

He and Steve did a great job with James and Sonny backing them up.

Sonny Lowe Band with Sonny on harp and vocals; David Burke on guitar and vocals; "Tall" Paul Dowdling on bass; and James Foster on drums; make up one tight band and should be doing other gigs.
Just my opinion.
I have only one complaint....shorten the breaks and in all actuality, with all the musicians that show up there....there should little downtime.

It's a "jam" so get them up there.
You know me...I'd rather have the whole night of nuthin' but The Sonny Lowe Band, but since it is a Jam.... keep it Jammin'!
Way too long of breaks.
( I promise I won't bring it up again;-)

I stayed for two sets and bailed with a wake-up call of 4am. Sure wish we had earlier shows too. It's real hard to pull myself away from these things. Unless of course the break is too long;-)
But from the looks of things there....it doesn't get goin' 'til 10pm or so anyway.

The band TIGHT, the few guests I got to hear were great, the dancers fun on the brand new dance floor front & center of the stage, the sound good, service awesome, no cover but DO put in the tip jar, I'd say it's a great way to spend a Thursday night.

I Thanked Vinnie for keeping the blues going there before I left.

Do get out and support the blues, people.
We have many clubs open now. Although we do lack a "blues club" here in Sonoma County, we do have many clubs that have blues every-so-often. (check the 'clubs' page)

And by all means....DO NOT miss Sonny Lowe and Band.
They are hot!!!

See ya next Thursday at Jasper's, if not sooner on that blues trail!


Posted by Mo at 02:58 PM | Comments (1)

Chief Schabuttie's "Snakes Crawl at Night"

I just recieved that Chief Schabuttie's "Snakes Crawl at Night' in the mail yesterday.
It is so good. Real fine line up of musicians including, Kirk "Eli" Fletcher, Rusty Zinn, Jr Watson, Louisiana Red, Bob Corritore, Teddy Morgan, Chico Chism, Richard Innes, and more!!
From the first song to the last, it's real fine. His voice is real gritty that reminisant of Howlin' Wolf.

All for $10!!!

I'm surprised I didn't hear of him while doing bluesin' down around the Phoenix area. He's from AZ and has played around those parts for some time but I never saw his name listed anywhere while I was there. He's from a town called Buckeye just outside of Phoenix.

That is the very town I traveled to with Long John Hunter for a gig a couple of years ago while visiting my son.
It was like, "Somebody pinch me!"
That whole evening seemed like a dream, like it never happened, being the fan I am of his. Have been for some time even before stepping out into the 'live' blues scene.
There we were.....Me, with Walkin' Cane Mark and Long John Hunter, in a van travelin to a gig, hearing stories about his life. he loves to talk about it, that's for sure.
Why I never did write anything about it is beyond me. I left with a since of sadness for some reason. I had a hard time putting it in words. Although, I got some real cool photos!
How I came upon that opportunty is a whole 'nother story.
Wish I had a tape recorder than.
I wonder what Long John's been up to these days. Haven't heard much about him.

I'm on vacation in September and plan on going back down there to visit the kid and do more of that "Phoenix boogie". Can't wait!!

Anyway.... Chief Schabuttie's cd is a treasure. Pick it up......


Posted by Mo at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)

Andy Santana's Front Porch Blues! 5/20/05

Lastnite, a few of us ventured out to St.Helena's 1351 Lounge, for Andy Santana and his westcoast playboys.

It had been awhile since the last time I had seen Andy so I was excited. He always surrounds himself with great musicians so I knew it would be a great night of blues.

We got there and they were going strong minus their drummer. He was MIA.
This always worries me when the drummer doesn't show but you know what??
They didn't even need him!!
Highly danceable.
This trio stood up to the plate and did a great job filling in. They pulled up stools and made an evening of some real front porch playin'.
It was great!!

Mike Phillips on bass. Andy playing harp and guitar, but most importantly.....Robert Sidwell on lead guitar!!!
This guy is one awesome guitarist!
I was trying to figure out where I've seen him before and Big Daddy Z mentioned the Hucklebucks and it all came back to me....he played with Rusty Zinn at the Ivy Room some time ago.

It was amazing how much more we could hear without the drums. Intricate guitar conversations between Andy and Robert as well as some lowdown front porch harp and guitar playing.
They should do more of that kinda stuff. At least a few songs a gig.
I'm sorry....but I never realized what a great guitar player Andy is. He really fills in on that rhythm part and backed Robert beautifully so he was able to really cut loose. His solos weren't half bad either. Many of those real magical moments between the three of them.

Lis, who is a new member of the "Roadtrip gang", was sitting there at the bar when I went up to her and said, "You know, they sound really good without their drummer". She looked at the stage area and said, "I didn't even realize there wasn't one".
My point made.
Real fun night.

"Bongo Boy" showed up and he sat in for a few on his bongos. he couldn't keep a beat for some of it but he found the groove and it was alright.
They were better without the bongos.

Man....I could imagine what this show would've been like with a drummer but it gave us a chance to really hear some great playing loud and clear.

Robert Sidwell is a blues guitar force to be reckoned with so be on the lookout for him. The guy can sing too!!
The Hucklebucks were just at this very venue a couple of weeks back and I was sorry to have missed that show. They are from Sacramento and it's not often they get this close.
They are now on my "Hit list".

Today's a day of bitter/sweet emotions. My daughters boyfriend (who's been living with us for over two years while finishing college) just left for Redding. he moved out and is starting his career in law enforcement up there. She will join him when she finishes school here.
I am so proud of this kid and it's amazing how well he does considering all the stuff he's been thru.
It's sad to see him go, and sad to see how much my daughter, and our dogs, are gonna miss him, but...... Hallelujah!!! Two down and two more to go!!!
The light at the end of the tunnel is gettin' closer and the grocery bill is going down.

I just hope that light is not a train coming from the other direction!!!

Tonite....The Aces at The Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa. I can't wait!!
That Derek Irving on guitar is one of my favorites.
David Burke will be there, I'm sure (or Hoping)
When David plays with these guys, he usually does the double duty of bass and rhythm which is even more amazing than his solo work with Sonny Lowe because it's not even on a bass guitar!

Real raw stuff these Aces.

Tomorrow? The Ivy Room with what I'm willing to bet is gonna be the show of the weekend!!

Get on out and enjoy some blues folks!
There's much out there and we are very fortunate to be living is this "blues rich" area.

Welcome to the Roadtrip gang, Lis. It was great having you along. And Big Daddy Z and Rolf too!!


Posted by Mo at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2005

A True Blues Fest!! 5/14/05

I asked my husband, "What are you doin' today?" he says, "Workin' out my legs. What are you doing?" I says, "I have a whole list of stuff I should be doing but...." "No worries," he says. "That's why they call it the 'should-be-doing list.'"

So we both agreed that we will continue to live like "white trash" at least 'til the kids are gone, we retire, or are dead. So instead of cooking or cleaning, I decided to sit, rest, and share what I saw and heard, through my eyes and ears, at the Metro Fountain Blues Festival in San Jose.

I have to say that it was probably one of the funnest, true, blues festivals I have ever been to. Not only that, the line up was awesome!!

Low-key, no VIP seating, (or as someone put it to me last night, We were ALL VIPs!), coolers allowed as well as ins & outs, security good but not Gestapo, dancin' front and center, and the crowd up front was noisy and enthusiastic for the music.

We walked in around 11:30 a.m. and got a spot right in front!! Later, it would prove to be of almost stampeded proportions but I am not complainin' a bit!! I'm just glad an enthusiastic crowd was able to gather up front. Hurrah!!

We did agree that maybe a couple more rows back would have been cool for the sitting times and we also agreed that at least we had a couple of good lookin' asses shakin' in front of us ;-)

David Jacob-Strain was very impressive. Some great slidin', confident vocals, a real raw feel, and unusual interpretation of the classics. A real youngin' too! I guess he's what I'd like to call an "old soul".

Lara Price Band was one of the reasons I went to this fest. Well...alright...it was actually that guitarist of hers, Laura Chavez!!! Man, she's right up there with the best of them. When she bends them strings, her upper-lip looks as if it's being yanked up with it! Real classy show, TIGHT band, originals mixed with well presented covers, and Lara can really belt 'em out too!! They came out for an encore and that's when Lara played drums and sang.

Craig Horton was next. This band was the other reason I went. The whole gang was there. Henry Oden on bass, Steve Gannon on guitar, Billy Mo on drums. This make up of "The "Scratchin' Dogs" is real fine, I must say. OK...I'm sorry...Craig Horton's Blues Band. It's got a real nice feel to it and just gets better with each time I've seen them lately.

Craig is just a heart melter. When he does "Elizabeth"....aaah...
After his set, the crowd went nuts. This is the first time, in a loooong while, that I've heard that "roar" in the crowd. I love it!!! There was a roar followed by one long-ass raucous applause and that should've been an encore but it was not granted due to the schedule. If ever anyone ever deserved an encore it was this band here. What a shame. But hey, a schedule's a schedule and I respect that. We had a long ways to go yet. Craig Horton Blues Band...a winner!

Up next...CHRIS CAIN!!!! I have to admit that he was not one of the reasons I went but he sure will be from now on. I did see him with the Ford Blues Band at the Evolution of the Blues a couple of years back but I surely don't remember hearing this from him!! Wow. I have heard him on the radio, own a CD of his, and heard others, but to see him live, right there in front with that energy pourin' from him and his great band, it's a must for every blues guitar junkie.
I need to catch him a smaller club like Moe's. A whole night of that would satisfy for at least a week!!

Tommy Castro was up next and that was when we almost got stampeded. I guess I was supposed to see that coming but who would've figured?? The front was filling up but mostly with enthusiastic "gawkers" sprinkled with dancers.

Up next...Etta James. She sounded great and what a great band this Roots band. A real fine classy lady that turns naughty into nice. Funny how when Nappy Brown does something like that, it's dirtier but when Etta does it, it's stylish and classy, yet naughty. Imagine them two on stage together!!

Gotta love the blues!! It's real life and the truth. The crowd did not let up and demanded more for what went on for several minutes, but no encore. It was getting to the point of begging as we were packing up to leave. Should've given Craig Horton his.

So, being the blues guitar junkie I am, I have to say Cain, Craig, and Chavez stole the show!!

Great to see Jack, Lucretia, Deb, Bev, and thanks to Dee, Terri, Rolf, for coming along and helping with the gas, tolls, parking, cover. My blues buddies take such good care of me.

Real fine festival, I raise my glass to all who made it possible, especially the Associated Students of SJSU. Thanks for keeping it a real festival. I would've surely paid more than the $5 donation, and was going to throw more money in the donation barrel if only I didn't spend it on two great Ronnie Earl CDs I've been wanting. I couldn't resist. They are never in the record stores I go to, I lost a couple bids on eBay for them, and what do ya know...there they were at a booth! These two have Darrell Nullish singing on them and they're awesome. I have several of Ronnie's CDs and love them all but these here are my favorites of his.

I wanted to go to JJ's Blues Club for the first time. Why not since it was in the same town and how often do I get to San Jose? We were pretty tuckered out, and we agreed to head home. We got home and after saying good-bye to the gang, I headed over to Spancky's for more of Levi Lloyd.

It was a much quieter night in downtown Cotati. Even the band wasn't as loud. I ended up standing in front the other guitarist he has (please forgive me for 'spacing-out' his name. he is relatively new) and I didn't realize what a fine rhythm guitarist he is. His slow blues is real fine too. I was tunin' in some great bits there from that corner of the stage. Amazing how much more you can hear of the individual musicians when it's not so damn loud!!

That was great way to wind down one fine weekend packed full of the blues!!


Posted by Mo at 08:22 PM | Comments (1)

May 14, 2005

One Set Wonders!! 5/13/05

I am so glad I went out if not for just a set of each. Daniel Castro was soundin' real fine lastnite. They always sound great but last night was real special. Don Bassey sat in for Burton Winn on bass. Michael Emerson and T. Moran were both there.

The guitar was hot!! Real special indeed. Thank you Daniel for always doing my favorite song, "I'm sorry." Each time it's done totally different from the last so it's NEVER tiresome. Well this time, it made my back bone slip and I'm in agony today. Satisfied, but in pain.

I didn't want to leave because it was soundin' THAT GOOD and this was a special night for Daniel and band at the Flamingo. The crowd was that of music appreciators and some noise makers. One of the best crowds I've ever seen there as far as "music appreciation" goes.

I made it to Spancky's and peeked into The Tradewinds dark windows before I crossed the street. They are really doing a number on that place. Looks stripped. Depressing but we all know it'll be up and running again sometime soon. I hope.

Levi and band were sounding good. Levi was in a celebrating mood. Happy Birthday, Levi!! The crowd was that of Tradewinds regulars and the usuals of Spancky's. The band was tight but it sounded kinda messy due to the fact they were too damn loud!! Couldn't make out individual sounds and everything just came together in one big chaotic soundin' mess.

Why do people have to play so loud in such small venues?? I bailed after a set of that, got up early this mornin', and am now gettin' ready for the metro fest. No VIP seating, right???

Probably do the Black Diamond fest since they have none of that stuff either. Besides....the line up is killer!!!

Have a great day and see ya on the dancefloor,

Posted by Mo at 07:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2005

Sonny Lowe/Jasper's Alive and Kickin'!!

Jasper's is reopened and hoppin'!!
It was so cool to round that corner and see the alley filled with parked cars. it was even cooler to hear BLUES blastin' out the back door and down the alley...why it was music to my ears!!

Walked up and the first thing I noticed was how clean the patio was. They got rid of much debris accumulated. Nice comfy feel.
Walked in and the place looked bigger! They took off all that stuff that was on the walls. It used to be covered with all sorts of stuff. The stage is bigger, the dancefloor seemed bigger, got rid of the pool table, it looked real nice.

Sonny Lowe was on fire lastnight. This was the best I've heard him in some time. He was hot!!
He just got back from the south somewhere, blues journeys if I'm not mistaken, and something got into him.
He was soooo good.

Just one request...no more 30 minute breaks!!! Us old folks have to get up in the morning.

David Burke??
Let's just say I was in a frenzy all night while he was playing that guitar. His singing too, makes me want to...wants to make me...aah forget it..... I just don't how to explain it. The guy is amazing. Don't know what else to say that I haven't said before. It gets to the point to where I just don't know what to do except scream and holler in disbelief when he's off in a solo.Gotta do something or I'd explode!! Just listening to his rhythm riffs would do me!!
Sonoma County's best kept secret here folks.

Tall Paul Dowling on bass and he's grooves are infectous. Always great to see and hear him.

After walking in, I noticed James Foster was not there on drums but in his place was none-other-than---Jake Mackey!! This kid is an awesome guitar player but I didn't know he could also plays drums!!

Levi Lloyd sat in for a couple.

Skye O'Bannon (The Aces)was there and blew some reeaaal lowdown harp, and it felt as though we were in the delta!! Can't wait to see The Aces next weekend at The Russian River Brewery on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa.

There were other guests and it was all so overwhelming. I was just so happy to be there dancing to this band with LOTS of familar faces of Sonoma County Blues fans.

We left after two sets because 4 a.m. was approaching mighty fast.

Jasper's has a full live music schedule I noticed in the local paper today. This is so exciting. A big THANK YOU goes out to the new owners for keeping the music alive.

Gonna hit Daniel Castro at the Flamingo tonight for a short set of rippin' guitar, and then dash over to wish Levi a Happy Birthday at his gig at Spancky's. This weekend is packed full of the blues baby!!

Thank you, Rolf for the extensive Sonoma County calendar and Jack for the greater bay area calendar on Yahoo's Bay Area Blues Club. Both are jewels!!



Posted by Mo at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005

Fourth Street Struttin'!! 5/7/05

Got back from Redding this evening with a few hours to spare for the blues!

I was really bummed to have missed One More Mile at DGs the night before. Just didn't want to go up there all burnt out. This was an important mission after all ;-)

I looked on Rolf's awesome Sonoma County calendar, and decided I needed to scout out a few new venues and bands.

I started at The Sweet Spot on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa. Easy and free parking, no cover, a small dance floor in front of the band and good sound.

The band playin' was Raisin' Cain and they were a rockin' blues cover band. They were OK.

I left and did the strut down Fourth towards the new Russian River Brewery. They have live music there but I was certain it wasn't blues on this night. The place was packed with the young and old. All ages and I didn't go in. I will attempt that place when the Aces play there in a couple of weeks. I can't wait becaue that band, and especially that Derek Irving on guitar, is the best!! I have missed them.

As I was walkin' Fourth Street, I passed Epiphany Music store, and the place had some real fine blues coming out of there. It was when I saw Uncle Mark sittin' behind that guitar, I put out my just lit smoke and dashed in there. What a great soundin' band. Many people up there, local all stars to be sure, most I recognized but don't know the names.

The gal singing, and I'm really embarrassed that I forgot her name, well...she made the band bring it down to a real raw Willie McTell song, "The Soul of a Man" and I thought I died and went off to that big blues gig in the sky. What a wonderful job on that one!!! Very moving. I can't believe I forgot her name cuz I've seen her quite a few times around here.

Uncle Mark took that last two songs, with "Bye, Bye, Baby Good-bye" and he meant it quite literally as he unplugged his National Steel, and walked out the front door playin' and singin' away. It was all over way too soon. I will be on the look out for more of those shows but I didn't even know about this one!!

That was so cool and I hope they do more of those. What a line up on that stage. I ran into a blues buddy there and I told her I was going to scout out another new venue (for me anyway) and the band playing there. This was down the road a piece in Santa Rosa. She wanted to come so off we went to the Black Rose Irish Pub. They usually have celtic music there but have been broadening their horizons a bit with other genres.

As we were walkin' in, the band was walkin' out. We talked with them a bit and promised we'd make a show of theirs another time. It ends real early there being a dinner show and all.

That was that. That would all the blues I would get in this weekend. that's alright, I wasn't planning on any, to be truthful.

I do know one thing...it is so great to see, and hear, the scene in downtown Santa Rosa once again. Fourth Street was alive and hoppin'! I will be back there you can bet. Just hope they book more blues in these new venues.

Jasper's is open again with Sonny Lowe keeping his Thursday night gig. I will be there for that this Thursday. That whole band is the best but especially that David Burke on guitarr!!!!

Tradewinds is about to reopen and this is really good news.

Startin' to get quite a few new venues around Sonoma County and this is real great news because I'm tired of drivin' that corridor to be certain.

Next weekend is packed with the blues. There will be some travelin' for a fest and then back again for two awesome evenings in Sonoma County!!

Thanks, Rolf for the detailed local calendar!!


Posted by Mo at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2005

MOFO, Dwight, and Willie G! 4/30/05

I wasn't gonna go out at all this weekend. Just didn't seem to have the drive or enthusiasm. Tryin' to cut back on my bluesin' spending, but Dee offered to drive so why the hell not?

Dee had wanted to see a bunch more of Willie G since that Sonny Rhodes show awhile back at DGs, so we decided to make a long day of it by hitting Lou's for a double-header than cross the bridge over to Chris' Club in Vallejo. Sounds easy enough right???

We got an early enough start but it seemed to take us forever with all the BSin' we did along the way. Making returns at stores was not on the agenda but "since it's on the way down...." I was told.

She had a CD in her player that caught my ear and the trip down was relatively quiet with little talkin'. I wanted to hear that CD!! I'm gonna get it for sure. Memphis Slim's "Messin' Round" and it is so awesome!! Whoever is accompanying him on guitar in that band is my new hero!! No credits, no nuthin' on the sleeve so I'm lookin' into it today sometime. Real nice, tasty, intricate playin'. Lots of it too! Although Slim's piano was clearly the featured instrument, there was plenty of that awesome guitar. I really enjoyed that CD and will find it today!

We FINALLY made it Lou's Pier 37 and found a place to park for what would turn out to be the most outrageous amount I've ever paid to park. I took care of it since she drove. I'm not use to payin' that much there, seeming how I never go there on a weekend during the day. I can usually get it free on the street or for a flat $5 rate later in the evening.

Walked up Jefferson and heard that MOFO Party Band sound blastin' out of Lou's. Walked up and the place was packed!! I mean packed!!! I haven't seen it that full since those "Blues Summit" days there with Kevin Russell, Daniel Castro and Johnny Nitro. Remember those?? Too packed.

MOFO had the place hoppin'. A very enthusiastic crowd. They had a different drummer once again. He was having a hard time through some of the stuff. Downright chaotic at times. I can imagine it would be hard to keep up with these guys if one's not used to it. But when that groove was found, it was too cool.

John invited up Big Daddy "Z" and Randy (another Sonoma County musician) to blow some harp. We had a little harp blow out goin' on. It was real fun.

Jake on bass was his usual badass self.

But...the main attraction, to me anyway, was Brother Bill Clifton. He is one of the most under-rated guitarist on the scene. In my humble opinion anyway.

They always have some routine to show-off more of their talents and this was one of the best yet.

They did the usual "serenading" the audience with one guitar solo after the other, bar-walkin', John taking over the stand-up bass while Jake stands on it and combs his hair, then Bill comes to take over bass while John plays the guitar, all stacked, one behind the other, but I didn't realize that Brother Bill could play a halfway decent harp!!

During the mini blow-out, I was off in my zone, I had my eyes closed, dancing and listening attentively, tryin' to find those rhythm guitar riffs to "plug into," then it came and hit me. Some riffs from outta nowhere reached out and grabbed my ears. I opened my eyes, looked up, and it was Brother John on guitar this timBill was on harp, and he was pretty good, but can John play that guitar!!! I wish we could hear more of that from him. He's no Brother Bill but he does have a style all his own. I really like that style.

These guys are just so damned talented it's no wonder they aren't touring the world. They should be.

I was in a "frenzy" for almost all of that short set and a half, and I don't think I've worked up a sweat like that in a long while. I think it did me in for the rest of the night because I was really wiped out after that.

Thank You MOFO Party Band!!

If you haven't seen these guys yet, do yourself a favor and get out to one of their shows. I really want to catch them at some club with a dance floor, front and center, so we can capture that awesome energy from the stage. I hate being detached like that but I'm getting used to it the more I keep "settling." I do appreciate the fact that Lou's has MUCH local blues and are very supportive of it, but it's just too bad that....

They kicked everybody out after the MOFO show and this was new to me. Why in the world do you kick all these customers out??? I bet they lose many because of it. Although, after we left and came back, there was a line outside for Shane Dwight. I have never seen a line formed before for a local band like that. This was good to see, I guess.

Most the folks in line were people that were up there for MOFO. Why kick everybody out like that? It was very tacky in my book. More money, you say?? Just go around and collect a second cover then.

The raucous crowd that existed for MOFO, had calmed way down for Shane Dwight. Not hardly a peep outta them as opposed to the last show. The band sounded awesome and Shane's got them licks down.

I was real anxious to hear for the first time in many moons and I had heard he has sort of a new sound. He's been dubbed as a "Little Tommy Castro." I don't see it, sorry. Tommy plays way more blues although Shane was doing some pretty lowdown stuff last night and it was sounding really good! He was doing some real blues including a Howlin' Wolf song that soundin' pretty darn lowdown to me. Very unusual for him. He did prove that he can do it. I like this side of him.

Dee decided we'd better head out if we were to hear some Willie G. It was hard to leave as they were coming back up for a second set.

Wanted to pick up Shane's new CD before we left, his third, but it'll have to wait til next time. That I was bummed about. MOFO Party Band also has a new one due out soon. Can't wait!!

We found the bridge with ease but finding Chris' in Vallejo was no easy task. Took us forever but we managed to get there in time for a set. Mostly everyone else but Willie G up there singing and Dee was not a happy camper. You think I get obnoxious about things like that, you should hear her! She wanted to hear Willie G and I completely understood where she was coming from on this matter. We heard a few from him and man...can he sing!!! I love his voice and his style. I assured her that we would hit one of his shows again but only the whole show next time.

The band was top notch and I actually knew a few of them. Chris Burns on piano; Willie Riser on bass; Bernard Anderson on sax and vocals; the guitar was real tasty but I don't know who he was; the drummer? No clue. Real tight band.

Saw "Pork Pie" there and we missed him sittin' in. Too bad for that because he was real good last time we saw him at DGs. Great to see you Carl.

Dee wasn't happy, and we agreed that we should've stayed at Lou's. Not because the music was bad at Chris' but because we ended wasting valuable bluesin' time driving around aimlessly, only to hear a few songs of Willie G.

At least we got to go to Chris' for the first time. I did enjoy the guy that got up there and did his interpertation of a Aaron Neville song. I really like it there. I will be back again now that I know how to find it. It's actually very easy to find and if only I was drivin' it would've been easier ;-) Yeah, right.

I was so beat up and ready to go towards the end, I couldn't move. Maybe it was all the MOFO Fun, I'm not sure. They do that to ya sometimes. Although, I do think this job is taking it's toll on me. I can't even function past 10 pm sometimes! Aaah well...I got to sleep in today and this is good. I'm just happy to have a decent job.

This was sort of a variety show day with some of MOFO, a little of Shane Dwight and a piece of Willie G. They were all great and it really made me want to hit all of these shows again but only a whole night of each next time.


Posted by Mo at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)