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July 24, 2005

Ron Hacker and the Hacksaws!!7/23/05

I wanted some blues lastnight but couldn't decide on who I wanted to hear, or where I was gonna find some. I knew that if I wanted to hear what I was wanting to hear, I would have to leave the county.

I am not fond of Lou's so MoFo was not on the top of my list. Too bad too because I could've gotten into that MoFo band real easily. They are so good but settling was not worth the drive and all.

Frankie Lee sounded great but Biscuits, and the crowds of Union Square was not something I wanted to endure.

I was talkin' myself out of going down that corridor at all when Blues Buddy Dee returned my call and told me she would drive so that changed everything!
I managed to shrug my shoulders at Lou's when she mentioned she wanted to see MoFo and she saw it even over the phone line!!
So she agreed that Hacker would be the best bet.
Thanks Dee!

I'm always putting my life in my hands when driving with Dee. I finally realized who she reminds me of when driving: A New York City Taxi driver!!

I remember the time I went to visit my sister and her family in the Bronx. My Brother-in-law, the NYC Cab driver, picked us up from LaGuardia and it was an amusement park ride all the way to their house!
My mom was freaking out, I was in shock until I realized this guy obviously knows what he's doing, so I relaxed and just imagined I was at Disneyland or some amusement park ride, complete with the honking, whistling, squeaky brakes, yelling, the "finger" flying out the window, all the special effect were there. The kind of stuff you see in movies but never experience...it was all there.
That could be a new amusement park ride theme ya know.....

Anyway, that's Dee's driving and she should be a city cab driver. Crazy driver but a real good driver although, I'm surprised she doesn't get into more accidents but she does have her share of close-calls, no doubt.
This is not talking behind her back because she was the first person I told. I do appreciate her driving there all the same and..... Yes, I probably would do it again!

So, we made it through all the bridge and city traffic. It was so sparkly and crisp once the fog did it's thing. It was as if a fog machine was on and whippin' it thru the "gate".
What a site!!
Traffic came to a stand still on the bridge, it was freaking people out, all the fog.
The city itself was crystal clear. A beautiful night and the cool air felt great!!

We found free parking so there was more money for the band right off the bat! I love when that happens on the weekend.
Walked in and the first thing I looked for were those Hacksaws!!

Was Ronnie Smith there behind them drums?? Yes indeedy!!
Was AJ up there standing behind the bass and bouncin' on stage ?? Yes indeedy!
Of course, we all know Ron Hacker would be there.
That's it. This is the trio I was so jonesin' for -RON HACKER and the HACKSAWS!!

I'm sure you've heard me say it before but.,...there's no one that can take the place of any of these guys. It HAS to be these three or forgetaboutit!
I've heard someone filling in for Ronnie before and sorry, it doesn't work right.
I've heard someone fill in for AJ before and that's an even worse catastrophe!!
Nope, no one but these Hacksaws and that's it.

So needless to say, I worry when headin' out to a Ron Hacker show because sometimes, not always, but sometimes.... one or the other is not there and I just as soon stay home if that's the case.
And heaven forbid that someone should want to sit in with these guys. Another...."forgetaboutit!" because that just ruins the whole dynamics of it all.
They need no one else, just a trio. That is something that they should be proud of because in all actuality....how many trios actually sound good?
In the blues, that is.
Most always sound as though something's missing and the guitarist can't live up to it, the bassist doesn't cover enough ground, and the drumming is too simple and basic.
Arighty then...enough of that.
Just my opinion is all ;-)

Saw that the whole band was present and accounted for so I settled in.
The music was sounding great and the floor soon filled with dancers.
A whole bunch of fun dancing going on. Guys were out there digging the tunes, dancing and it didn't matter if they had someone to dance with or not, they were there for the music. I like to see that in men. We know women don't mind for the most part but guys have a harder time gettin'out there on their own. The coolest guys I've ever met were ones that get out and do their thing without worrying about that stuff. They are the ones who are there for the tunes and diggin' it. No other agendas, usually.

There were some fine looking ladies out there that were getting ready to burst out and so you had your "tongue-hangers" out there doing their mating dance, and the drool was getting slippery on the floor too, but for the most part, most were there for that music of Hacker and his Hacksaws!!
It was hot and sweaty in the Saloon but what does one expect with these guys playing dem Hot Blues. They really know how to heat a place up with them nasty blues.

The band sounded awesome all night. Ron really laid into some killer guitar and with these Hacksaws backing him, he was free to roam and that he did!

AJ and Ronnie did their funky "Intermission" bits while Ron changed guitars and those are always fun.
I'm waiting for the day AJ comes out with his own thing like, "The AJ Project" or something.
he does some amazing things on that bass. I do believe he could pull it off.
I was standing up close to the stage, pretty much under AJ and his
bass, just dancing along and then it hit me....beads of AJ's sweat
drippin' down on me. It was so cool. I felt cleansed!!!

It was a great fix. The "Hack Attack" I was so craving. It had been too long. The last time I saw this band was at Ashkenaz a couple of months ago, and that night was ruined by the certain someone "dictating" our schedule to me so the feel of the whole night was shot down and didn't count. But lastnight would make up for it.

Great to see all the familar blues lovin faces at The Saloon.
It had been awhile since I'd been there and I really missed the place. My favorite home away from home for some blues. The bestest, smelliest, funkiest, blues joint around!!

There...my weekend has been so fun!!
I had a great , very full-filling, getaway with my honey out at the Mendo coast and then an evening of intense blues makes for a very satisfied woman.

Next weekend I will be out of town once again to visit family up north so blues will have to wait. But then the following weekend will be.....SONOMA COUNTY BLUES FEST TIME!!!
Nick Moss and the FlipTops...oh, yeah......
I do see some great Sonoma County stuff coming up this next weekend so do get on out and support it!
A Case of the Willy's will be at tradewinds although I hear Volker Strifler WILL NOT be on guitar with them. He's touring with Robben, his brothers, or something.

Mz Dee and Anthony Paule will be doing their "Groove team" bit at the Flamingo and that is fun dancing stuff.
I'm sure there's plenty more to choose from, just check the calendar and by all

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

July 17, 2005

Michael Barclay at the 'winds! 7/16/05 By:Mo

Man...it is so cool to have our little ol' Tradewinds back!!

They are accommodating LOTS of music and this is always a good thang.
It's as if the old place never closed.
Just wish they'd do more blues and then maybe I'd go there more. As it is...I've only been there twice now since they've opened. Aaaah well..... I'm just glad they're open with live music.

Got there lastnight to hear Michael Barclay and his Blues Band.
It was so cool to see everyone!
LOTS & LOTS of familiar blues lovin' faces and it felt good to be home again.
The floor was hoppin' and the crowd appreciative.

Michael and band were hot from opening number. Yeah sure, it was a bit shaky at times but that was the whole beauty of it. It started out shaky, they'd work it 'til they found the pocket, and that was all she wrote!!
Shoot, they hadn't played together in months and months, I don't think any of them have other gigs aside from this band here and I don't think they practiced all that time. I'm willing to say they sounded pretty damn good.
I have missed that guitar of Mike's.

It was great to see and hear Roger Voltz on sax; "Dr"Joel Rudinow on keys; Kent Fossgreen on bass; Kendrick Freeman on drums; and of course, Michael Barclay on guitar and vocals.
What an awesome band but I just wanted more and more of that guitar!!! He did really cut loose on some, along with that signature Barclay build-up. I love when he does that.
The song starts out nice and mellow, simple enough, and as it goes it just builds up to this euphoric ending. The band lays brick after brick to build this solid foundation as Michael keeps leading them to build higher and higher as he's marching to the top of that peak. It's all just too much!
He's famous for that and it was scarce lastnight but then into the second set on, it really started coming together.

Man...I've missed them!!
He stayed away from that "Hendrix" set, and this was good for me.
Sorry, I do like some Hendrix but not when anybody covers it. I don't care who they are. Kind of like Stevie songs.

Besides...Michael's got waay too many originals to be messin' around like that ;-)
We even heard some new stuff lastnight.

It was a great night. I am sure with everything getting back to "normal", they will only get tighter now that they have their regular gig back.

Lots of talk going on at break about how everyone was happy to have the 'winds open again and we all agreed that we'll never take our local Juke Joints for granted again!!

Tonite??
Shade is playing at the Tradewinds and I really want to catch them before the alarm -of- reality goes off tomorrow morn'.

Thank You Tradewinds crew!
Thank You Barclay crew!
But mostly....Thank You blues crew!
It was so cool to see all those dancin' blues lovin' faces again.
I know I go off into my own world on the dance floor, but it's nice to turn around, open my eyes, and see all those familiar smilin' faces.
Let's do it again real soon!

Mo

Posted by Mo at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2005

Craig Horton at the Ivy Room 7/15/05

Terri and I went down that corridor to the Ivy Room for some Craig
Horton lastnight.
It was so quiet in Albany, it was weird.

I can't seem to get enough of Craig and each time you see him, it's
something new.
He's unpredictable in every song he plays.
His singing would be the highlite of the evening on this night.
Man....can he sing!!

The whole band was great but it seemed that something was off. It
seemed awfully slow at times.
At one point, in the beginning, I was putting plan B in action in my
head, it was so off.
But, I stuck around and it paid off cuz it only got better.

It wasn't Henry Oden on that bass that was "off". I swore I kept
hearing rhythm piano playing coming from his area where the old piano
sits and I'd look and no one there 'cept Henry thumpin' the bass
lines with rhythm licks thrown in there as well. The guy is amazing!!!
Maybe it was a ghost sitting at that old piano there I'm not sure. I
really thought it was Henry filling in on bass but I'm not sure.

It wasn't Steve Gannon on that rhythm guitar. This guy is also
amazing!!
And he holds back outta respect, I can tell.
He is great and I REALLY need to catch a show of his own one day.
Steve is also all over that "Live' Ivy Room" Cd I just got from Leroy
and that is some of the best guitar I've heard on a recording.

Craig wasn't off. He's just Craig and does pretty much whatever he
feels like doing. I can't figure it out but I think it was the drums
or something.
Just an off night but that guitar and singing waaay made up for it.

VERY appreciative crowd although sparse.
I love how the songs would start off real shakey and then that pocket
was found and it felt good.

Craig and band ripped through many off his two cds. I'm always amazed
at the stuff he writes. Beautiful arrangements, lyrics, and he's got
the stuff to back them.

I just wish we could've captured some of those guitar solos he did lastnight onto cd or something. They were waaay over the top!!
Real fine guitar and some of the best singing around....Craig Horton.
He has proven that old blues players are like fine wine....they
better with age!!
This would especially be true for him because he REALLY does get
better with each time I see him.

Go check him out.

Later,
Mo

Posted by Mo at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

"Live" at the Ivy Room Benefit Cd

So while at the Hayward fest, I came up
on Leroy Shynes who was wheeelin' it in front of the stage takin' pictures.
I was eatin' and we were talkin' and BAM!!
just like that, it hit me!!

"Hey Leroy, you got any of those Live
Cds of the benefit?" I asked. I watched the expression on his face, waiting for a reaction of "Yes" and he reached back in his bag and pulled one out. I was so excited!!
Everytime I see him, I forget to ask.
I have been wanting one of these things.
I have been listening to it a lot on my way to work and back the last couple of days.
Maybe I'm partial to it because I was there but the whole thing is pretty damn good! I didn't even realize until after the fact that it was being recorded.
It's so pure, raw, spontaneous, and some way too awesome solos!
This is the kind of emotion that's hard to find on studio stuff . It's so sterile most times.
There are no credits on this Cd and me being there, you would think that I would know all the players. Yeah, right.
It's been fun trying to piece the players together. Once in awhile they'll introduce the band, or a particular soloist, but mainly it's just guessing and a few you just know who it is.
It has a list of all the players on the back but it doesn't say who played what, where, with whom, or when or whatever.
It doesn't matter because it's all so real. Like being there at a show in the Ivy Room or any old juke joint, USA.

I'm gonna start off with my first favorite on the cd- SID MORRIS!
He plays piano and can he ever play!!
He really needs to put something out. If he has already, somebody PLEEEASE tell me where to get it!
Wonderful, wonderful stuff there.


Next would be MZ. DEE!!
She is so cool. The way she does "I Would Rather Go Blind" is just about the best I've ever heard.
Her set is the real deal and I think she has two different guitarists accompanying her on her songs. One song I know it's STEVE GANNON. The other I'm not sure who it is but... Wow!!
Both solos were just the absolute best. The stuff I want on cd for the road.

The "Mz. Dee Boogie" is oh so good. I do believe that it must Jonny Lawton on this guitar.
The horns are done by Mike Pelloquin and Mike Renta and they are all over the CD.

Birdlegg and the Tightfit Blues Band do an awesome set.
Birdlegg introduced the entire band so that helped ;-)
John Graham on guitar. Chris Burnes on piano. Patty Hammond on bass, Robi bean on drums, and of course, Birdlegg singin' and blowin'some harp.

Birdlegg says,"Leroy, this one's for you. Our hearts are with ya, our prayers are with ya, but we're gonna keep our women to ourselves!

Jonny Lawton's set is one of the best things to be put on disk today!.
Who's that on harp?
Could it be Scot Brenton?

Listen to the conversation the two guitars and harp are having. The other guitar on this particular song would be Steve Freund.
The whole thing is so hair raising, tingling, haunting, chilling, hypnotic, and it feels oh so good!

Craig Horton has a real fine set and the list goes on and on.
It's a double CD and so there's plenty of time for a two-set evening of live blues and you don't even have to leave the house!
Most the fun is trying to figure which musician is playing what instrument on what song. There's no real order to it.
Pick this jewel up. It's for a good cause and it'll take you on a trip to any old Juke Joint, USA!

Thank You, Leroy!!

Later,
Mo

Posted by Mo at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

T-Birds/Kirk "Eli" Fletcher 7/14/05

Man...had I been looking forward to this show!!
It's not so much that I am a big T-Birds fan but I had heard that Kirk "Eli" Fletcher was on guitar with them now.
Yeah, I had heard about Nick Curran being with them too but his style is way more different than Kirks.
I have been enjoying Kirk for some time now, thanks to my Blues Buddy, Lenny.

I got there in plenty of time to hang out a bit and talk and then Debbie told me that there were "some" seats on the floor but not very many.
I was not expecting that since I had emailed the owner and asked about the dancing situation before I bought the tickets weeks ago!
He said, "buy your ticket, put on your dancin' shoes and get ready to dance!"
So, I did.

I walked up the steps and pulled back the curtain and sure enough two good size rows of tables and chairs in front with the dance floor in the back.
It was total bullshit!
I was ready to flee and go to Sonny's gig but I really wanted to see Kirk ,dammit!
I bitched and moaned a bit and then settled in Thanks to Lucretia and Debbie.

She sat me at the front table with them and it was dead center with Kirks guitar!! It was so hard to just sit there and a few times he pulled me up with that guitar. I jumped up and into our little corner.

I'm just wonderin' why it is that dancers get kicked around like that?
Isn't dancing what you want?
Doesn't the band feed off it??
I feed off the energy from the stage and I do believe the band feeds off the dancers. It's an exchange of sorts.
Lastnight the band couldn't see the dancers stuck behind the sitters.
Not with the lights in their faces.

The band got started and it was hot from the get-go!

I was getting worried that Kirk would play mostly rhythm guy next to Nick but he finally had his time to shine.
The contrast in their playing styles was a great balancing act.
They would play off each other and had some great "conversations" going on in the background. They interacted off each other and watched what the other was doing.
Both great guitar players and I can't wait to hear them again!

Just wish Kirk would pay more attention to his own projects. He has some great CDs out and plays with the Mannish Boys when he's not with T-Birds.

Kim Wilson is just "fabulous". I love his style, his harp, his songs, but mostly... them vocals.
A great front guy, he gives the band ample time for expression in solos and we're not talkin' token solos here.
And it doesn't have to go around to each player. He'll usually highlite one player a song, not the whole band.

(Marcia Ball is real generous that way too, I noticed)

What a great night aside from the seats on our big beautiful dance floor.

Several highlights but the Man of the hour to me was.... Kirk "Eli" Fletcher!!!

I left there and went to Sebastopol for some Sonny Lowe. Got there in time to hear some guy play a flugle and David Burke on guitar for a couple of songs and then he left the stage and introduced some other guy to play guitar and it was pretty good. Sonny was not there again.
I left there and got home for a few hours sleep before work and what a hellish day it was at work!!

I'm gonna lay me down to sleep now before headin' out for Craig Horton.

Later,
Mo


Posted by Mo at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2005

Hayward Russell City Blues Festival 2nd Day 7/10/05

The day dawned foggy with the promise of clearing. Slow moving, I conquered short sleep with a shower and going directly to the car. Driving around Hayward while playing CDs (Byther Smith, Chess Blues Guitar) restored me and I went for breakfast downtown near the fest. I ordered and ocean of coffee and a veggie omelet. Joining me in the room were an old retired man talking about his ex-wife and a young man with a 1970s mullet, huge eyes, and an on-going conversation with himself that made clear he was a schizophrenic. I considered this a good sign for a blues festival. The old and the mad.

Downtown Hayward has too many vacant storefronts, and looks much less busy than it did when I used to be there 25 years ago. On the other hand many of the shops have interesting occupants. The little restaurant revived me with coffee and sent me on my way back to the parking garage and my stuff. I found Lucretia and Dorothy there and having an arm free helped carry a few things. We entered through the concessionaire’s gate since it was early. Setting up front and center on the grass in the same pattern as the day before took only a few seconds.

As the ticket office opened up I exchanged a ticket stub for a wristband and noted that the security guys seemed to have a new and more fearsome rap today. Apparently plastic water bottles are now Verboten and a possible cause of terrorism. Viscous gangs of grey haired gangbanger blues fans might run amok cutting people with Calistoga and Aqua Fina water bottles. This might cause the Homeland Security Czar to raise the threat level to yellow.

The roadtrip gang appeared at the gate a few minutes later. Mo reported there were guard hassles going on. I wandered over where I could see Teri giving Ronnie Stewart a piece of her mind about his denial of water. It was clear he was desperate about the beverage concessions not making enough money and was covering it with a bunch of bullshit lifted from George Bush terrorism speeches. Teri told him it was bullshit to his face. Since Teri’s taken on a whole county and won she was unimpressed with bureaucratic nonsense. People were laughing; Ronnie didn’t like it much.

First up was Guitar Mac looking good again. He managed to do his set while around him the sound guy with the hob-nailed boots and the glottal stop (‘London Calling’) fooled with all the sound gear. After that the line check was done again (Test, test) and mic and monitors balanced.

Next up were Little Gabe and the Visionz of
Tomorrow. Gabriel Lambirth is fourteen and in the ninth grade (the program was already out of date). He plays guitar like a dream. Playing with him was 16 year old Travis McGee on bass. The announcer did say that the drummer was twenty-six. This was a power trio of the Freddie King kind. Gabe covered himself with glory and hot licks.

Next up was fifteen year old Sade Daniels with a poem. Sade is the Winner of the All Stars Talent contest. She was very shy and nervous on stage and read her poem fast, and zipped off stage.

Then a Gospel revelation with the Stars of Glory! What a fabulous sound from these five ladies! We went on a complete visit to church and were commanded to live righteously every day. Yes, indeed! Driving rhythm and fabulous harmonies made a great start to the day.

From the heavenly we went to the carnal with Alvon Johnson. Alvon is unafraid to deal with fleshy desires, innuendo, and general flash. He’s also funny. With a crushed metal flake finish G&L guitar, sparkle jacket, and flash shoes it was a good thing he wasn’t in direct sunlight on stage and most of the audience had on shades. Alvon treated us to his classic show complete with the hot pan of grits joke. When he actually soloed with the guitar it is stunning how well he plays. Voice and guitar the man has it. I wish he’d cool down the non-stop showmanship a bit to give breathing room to his guitar playing and singing, sometimes he’s a bit frantic, but that’s Alvon.

The Caravan of Allstars with Wylie Trass and Willie G. was next. This wasn’t a day when Wylie made much impression on me, I’m not sure why. Willie G. on the other hand had one of his best shows. Energetic and in good voice, he did fresher material than he sometimes does. He sure does move around the stage. The Caravan of Allstars sounded good behind him.

Having seen his name for years on blues announcements from the Pacific Northwest, Harmonica player and singer Curtis Salgado was someone I was interested to see. Curtis does have his own take on the blues and has a fine melodic tenor voice. His hot blues-rock band carries the drive on which he layers his sound. Curtis really has some good tunes too. A fine set.

Ron Thompson was on just when many of us had to get out of the sun for a while. I watched him from the side of the stage while also watching Gary Silva on drums. It was interesting to see Gary in a setting different from Volker’s show the night before. Ron did a set of classic material that was strong on showmanship and tough sounds. Ron really got the audience going and played some nice guitar. When he switched to the slide guitar he gave a sound to the place which hadn’t been done on the festival. Shaking and bouncing he did it the old way. His rough voice was the icing on the cake for the sound.

Lydia Pense and Cold Blood did a fine set of funk material in that old east bay grease style. I was surprised at Lydia’s not having a semi-solo spot to show off that big voice, but then this was a festival gig. I have some trouble with the lack of depth of the words in most of the tunes they did on this show; it was all funk dance numbers done well. The dynamic was all "up".

Behind the stage I got to meet Bobby Rush for a minute and thank him for the show at Biscuits and Blues. He was enjoying that what had started as a speculative trip had turned into a triumph with two sold out shows at Biscuits, two sold out shows at Moe’s alley, and the large festival crowd. Charley from Bluebeat came up and he and Bobby shook hands over a successful CD buy Charley and Bobby had engineered. Bobby does business in the friendliest way, he knows. Bobby says hello to Tweed in Lake Worth, Florida.

The break for the headliner came on and I sat back and watched one of the most practiced load-ins I’ve seen. No wasted motion at all. Mike checks, monitor directions to the sound booth, amp checks were all done rapidly, clearly, and with firm direction.

The band appeared on stage, did the intro instrumental; the announcer did "Are you ready for Startime?" And bang Bobby Rush was on stage.

Bobby got busy with all our desires right away and pulled all the visual gags early. The rap about loving the really big woman was followed by the enormous heart covered panties. "But I got a new woman now!" and out came the enormous lace panties.

Bobby Rush works. He works the songs, the stage, the audience. He knows what he wants to do, and what to do. Having a festival crowd he varied his show from the one I saw at Biscuits, doing much "larger" routines and gestures that can be seen from a distance.

And yes, Miss Lowe, sweet booty girl, was on stage from the second number; making supermarket magazine covers of skinny women look stupid. More is more. Miss Lowe has more. Lots more. Her succession of outfits was designed to make me think things I wouldn’t tell my mama. Miss Lowe knows this and thinks it’s funny. Her dancing was graceful, even doing the hunch and stimulated the flow of pheromones throughout the audience.

Meanwhile, Bobby’s songs and talking were increasingly more philosophical about sex, humans, children, and family responsibilities. He implied that there’s no double standard. Never once was there any of the male dominance stuff. It was a stunner in that he was entertaining the hell out of the cheering crowd while talking about his life and family. Having taken this to the max point, he switched back to what we all want, and went for more of the fantasy stuff, like MORE SEX.

It was one hell of a show. We stood and cheered for him for a long time. It was a master show by a master, the kind that only comes along every so often. A way deeper show than any simple repetition of sexual words or attitudes could have been.

The Hayward/Russell City Festival is to be commended on one fine festival on a tight budget. The City of Hayward can be proud of this festival; it represented Hayward well. I’ll be back.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 08:02 AM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2005

Volker Strifler at Club Tac, Crockett, CA 7/9/05

After a short nap and a shower the Total Immersion Tour continued with the drive up I-580 & I-80 into the setting sun. A quick check at Hilltop Drive showed Bobby’s Cajun Barbecue already had the closed sign up. Driving up past the Pinole refineries and over the golden hills I came to the south side of the Carquinez Straight and Crockett on its hills. The Club Tac is just one of those blues places, neon lit from beer signs, union bumper stickers on the wall near the bar.

The band was already playing as I got there. It was a fun show with a band I know well. Volker had some new songs and had rearranged a bunch of the old tunes. The Club Tac patrons, who as a rule are a dancing bunch, sat and listened to the interplay of the instruments for the first set. David Schrader was in powerful voice with his tenor sax, turning in hot solos. The low toned horn section of trombone and tenor sax was interesting and brought to mind Howlin’ Wolf’s 60’s horn section.

This band is almost indescribable with powerful instrumentalists comfortable in several kinds of music—all of which seem to be going on at once. Combined with Volker’s song writing and adventurous arranging, it’s a powerful non-stop experience. The blues is there plus a ton of knowledge allowing a full spectrum of figures and harmonic devices expanding the blues into new ground.

I sang and danced along with a bunch of songs laughing to myself how I’d learned them on the dance floors of Sonoma County and never got the titles right until I got the CDs. Volker being Volker, almost none of the tunes were still arranged the way I remember. He continues to tinker.

"The midnight suns nearly on the rise,
Me and my baby made love all night,
I see her face through my sleepy eyes,
I get out of bed and everything's all right.

Well, I finally found where my heart belongs
And I finally found where my heart belongs,
And zoom your walls (?)
'Cause angels can't be wrong"

Mama said when you're feeling blue
Getcha sweet girl, hold her close to you
There's nothing like love as love
To getcha everything that you're dreaming of.

Well, I finally found where my heart belongs
And I finally found where my heart belongs,
And in your arms, and in your arms…
'Cause angels can't be wrong"


"Angels Can’t Be Wrong" was just as celestial as always but wasn’t the slide driven song it was before, other parts have come to the fore and Volker has changed the emphasis of the hook figure.

One song that hasn’t changed and which showed that roadhouse quality is his good old "Movin’ On."

"My friends all tell me I'm too nice
maybe some day I might pay the price
the way you treat me is every thing twice
If I don't get out of here
There's gonna be some sacrifice

I'm movin' on
I'm moving on
Everybody stand clear
I'm gonna get out of here
I'm moving on" (V. Strifler)

I had fun dancing to that one with its Texas shuffle beat. I enjoyed it as a breath of the old times while digging that Volker has ‘moved on’ again.

My favorite Volker song showed up as a work in progress with a somewhat different darker sound with something done to the interior harmony.

Somebody Help Me (Hanging Tough)(V. Strifler)

"Smack dab in the middle of nowhere,
feels like that's where I'm at.
The baby's crying and the rent is due
The landlord's breathing down my neck.

Sometimes it's rough
I've got a hound dog running after me
I'm hanging tough
Somebody help me cause I can't see."

It was grimmer in feel. Maybe it was just the night.

But the most far out of the band’s tunes right now is the most traditional, "Spoonful." The start point of this excursion isn’t some Brit Blues record of the 60s. Nope it’s the howling original by the Wolf –as arranged by John Coltrane. The Delta meets non-European modality. The scary part is that it’s truly "Spoonfull" and scary all the way, while being subject to diminished scale harmonies. It’s wild and one of the band’s best creations.

Suddenly, I was tired and had a long drive ahead of me. Somewhere after midnight I made my way down Interstate 80 to Big Oaktown and Hayward beyond, and the second day of the Hayward/Russell City Festival.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

Hayward Russell City Blues Festival 1st Day

Saturday woke low cloudy, windy and brisk, a fast front in off the ocean, cold for high summer. I went back to bed. After a nap and shower I went in search of the festival site and coffee. I discovered the municipal parking structure. The upper floors were getting lots of traffic so I parked on the ground floor. Wandering into the festival grounds early I found the ticket booth as they were opening and got my wristband and then went for coffee across the street.

Making a beeline for the front I discovered Dorothy, Lucretia, Mo, Terri, Chris, Anne and Dee in firm possession of front and center. Set up I went in search of more coffee only to find there was no coffee/tea concessionaire. Bad-I needed jumpstarting.

Already to go and pacing the backstage area, Guitar Mac was resplendent in a striped burgundy suit with long jacket, and a chartreuse hat and scarf. "Chartreuse, hard to miss that." said Dorothy. I observed that Mac was making sure he wasn’t over looked. "I know the feeling," said Dorothy as she darted away to greet someone. Guitar Mac was up first with some country blues. He has a big rich voice.

The stage line check was up next with Avojtcha reading every one of the announcements of the festival and the sound guys going "test, test."

The Gospel quintet "Endurance" was a powerful singing presence with two great lead singers. Doing the great "Mary Don’t You Weep" they called up the ghost of the Swan Silvertones. Their whole performance was majestic. Their audience walking had the feeling of church rather than a gimmick. A wonderful way to get the festival under way. They woke me right up.

Wingnut Adams was up next. Having seen their gig announcements many places I was interested to see who they were. I was impressed with drummer Wingnut and his soulful harp playing. The guitarist Jeremy Norris is hot and plays the drums when Wingnut is blowing harp. When they are in the standard trio format they are a soulful blues band. Wingnut doesn’t overplay the drums and the Jeremy leaves space instead of playing a million notes a minute.

Lacye Baker and the Black Diamond Band proved to be not the original band nor Lacye’s present small tour group, but Lacye and the Brummels, a larger soul group who play smooth tunes. It was a pleasant set with some interest. Lacye played some nice guitar. I liked the Brummels and I noticed Ken Winter’s piano work. I’d really like to hear Lacye’s guitar work in a smaller group such as the original Black Diamond Band.

Next up was the Caravan of All Stars Porkpie Phillips and Teddy "Bluesmaster" Watson part of the show. By this time it was clear to me that the sound guys at this festival were doing an above average job. For the first time I could make out the words of Porkpie’s songs. "Not Bad For A White Boy" has some witty stuff.

Teddy Watson was happy doing his rooster strut through the audience and making people laugh. Mr. Showmanship in a small foxy grandpa package. I figure he knows every stage trick and schtick since World War Two. A natural ham, he has no shame when it comes to entertaining a crowd. I would see him everywhere around the festival over the two days. I finally asked him if he ever got tired? "Not around a stage!" He laughed. Musicians only retire from day jobs!

The Russell City Memorial Blues Band was a hot aggregation. Carl Green, Gino Landers, and Bobby Webb on saxes, Big Bob Deance on guitar, Henry Oden on bass, with Billy Dunn and Big Cat Tolefree made me sit up and take notice. This was a hot group that suffered from playing during the hottest part of the day when lots of us were over in the shade after broiling for a while. Carl Green can play the sax for me anytime and I like Big Bob. The new surprise in this group was Big Cat Tolefree and his huge baritone voice. I want to hear this band again. And in a club too. I want to hear Big Cat do "The Thrill" again.

The festival program had a mid-level headliner category with dark type. On that list was a "Lil’ Jimmy Reed", a name mostly unknown to me. The program said he was from Alabama. He’s a slim distinguished looking man with a tough cynical eye. Within seconds of starting his first solo I was all ears.

He’s not ‘clone imitator’ of Jimmy Reed, though influenced by Reed. He’s his own guy and a hot guitar player with a gruff on-stage manner and a fine voice. On stage with both Ronnie Stewart and Lacye Baker he had no problem dominating the proceedings both musically and showmanship. He curbed Ronnie’s usual total manic attempt to control everything with the trenchant observation; "You’re full of shit." After that he was in control of the stage and the audience. Lord, what a smooth juke sound! The man has the sound and the tough mind to go with it. He has a large repertoire of songs, especially the classics that he does right his way. His set was a triumph.

"Bright Lights, Big City" was his finale and he went off stage to find a clamoring crowd wanting his CD. He hadn’t expected this and had few with him. He got someone to rush him to the hotel six blocks away and came back with all his CDs. He sold them all within five minutes. I saw him a few minutes later and under his cool exterior he was thinking, "What the heck happened?"

Sidebar: Later that night at the Hotel Dorothy and Lucretia came downstairs to go to the festival jam at the Bistro near the festival site. There in the lobby watching TV was Lil’ Jimmy Reed. Dorothy asked him if he was going to the jam. "I don’t have anyway to get there." Dorothy: "You do now!" He killed at the jam I heard. He told Dorothy he’d been booked for the Monterey Festival next year. "Is that festival bigger than this one?" "About ten times bigger." Welcome to California Lil’ Jimmy Reed!

Sherman Robertson was a name we’d spotted right off on the festival list. The Houston bluesman doesn’t get out here often enough. His set was a heavenly smooth one with a slight rasp to it, very Texas-Louisiana. Texas loping rhythm combined with Louisiana melodicism mean that with Sherman Robertson the song’s the thing. Sherman plays some hot guitar and gets in some great solos, but the song’s the thing. He sure can sing with a heartfelt and personal feel. Blues as survival, blues as heart songs, blues to the core. I’ll travel distances to see him again. He’s subtle, understated, personable, and all heart. I wish I had a tape of that set. Singing and guitar playing integrated into a whole that’s all blues.

Maria Muldaur did her usual competent set. Her voice seemed hoarser than usual.

I was broiled by this time and went in search of shade, food, water and beer. What I found as I would several times was a fine group of concessionaires. The food booths were really good this year, and the beer tent had Sierra Nevada, the blueshound’s ale [Like many in the blues I no longer drink hardly at all, having learned my lesson mumbledy-mumble years ago. So I have ONE really good beer—Sierra Nevada]. The one thing really missing among the concessionaires is a coffee-tea stand. We really needed that coffee.

On the street corner was the just arrived Guitar Shorty talking with musicians. Keyboardist Rob Gordon, looking for work approached Shorty. Shorty said, "I’m just about to go on tour, I need guys who are ready now." Rob said, "I have two days of gig clothes, two days of regular clothes, and my passport with me. I can go right now." Rob showed him too. God, I love festivals with open backstage areas.

And I found Bluebeat Music. And Bluebeat found my wallet. I mock-complained to Charlie that he had to stop having everything I want and he said "You can’t be as bad as I am, I had to build an extra room on my house for the collection. That’s when I knew it was more than a hobby!" I’m on a kick about California under-rated or unknown blues people. Charley has the CDs. You name it; Charley has the CDs. Johnny Heartsman? Charley’s got him. Early Esther Phillips? Charley’s got it. Box sets? Agghh, I didn’t even let myself get near those. Thank god I budgeted for Bluebeat.

Guitar Shorty's headlining show was marred by a stage setup that took forever including setting up six guitars and tuning all of them [five didn’t get used]. The entire setup took more than half an hour and reduced the total time Shorty had on stage. Shorty may not have known that the Festival had a totally tight time permit and had to stop at seven o’clock. Shorty and his roady did not stop fooling with their equipment until six-thirty.

Once he started the Guitar Shorty knife-sharp guitar sound was in full operation. "The Blues Is All Right" was a popping opener and was followed with hot solos on several songs including "How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around." Great searing guitar solos were the order of the night. Shorty can really deliver. His famous showmanship was not in evidence this time since he didn’t have time. Shorty seemed in a reflective mood. Time being called on him at 7:10pm left him with a very short ending.

As we went toward the cars I was conscious of having been broiled with more to come. I looked forward to more music that night and on day two of the festival. The Rolfy total music immersion tour rolled on.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

Bobby Rush at Biscuits and Blues 7/8/05

I ordered tickets ten days ahead under strict orders from my friend Tweed that I had to see Bobby Rush. Deciding to make a night of it I reserved for dinner upstairs and the later 10:30 show.

As I wandered up Mason Street toward Geary from parking the car, among the striding people came two young women walking slowly with their heads together in that intent way when something’s being dissected. As I came within range I heard the words, "And he’s sensitive, and he’s compassionate!" Her friend had that sympathetic want-to-believe-my-friend-but-oh-gawd face. I bit my tongue as I passed and didn’t say, "He still leaves the seat up." The dance of humanity seemed to be in full sway on a Friday night.

Arriving at Biscuits, I was early and talked with the Doorman and the ticket lady. I rapidly absorbed the patter that went with both of their positions. "Sorry, The first show is sold out. The second show’s at 10:30 although they’re running late. We have a great bar upstairs where we’re more than willing for you to wait."

I dealt with the beggars who have territories there in the Theatre District. Since it’s the Theatre District only blocks from the cheap hotels and flops of the Tenderloin, the beggars work the Theatre District with performances of one kind or another.

Tired of waiting I went upstairs to dinner to find the place almost empty. I had my choice of tables and happily had a window seat. The migration up Geary by late Union Square shoppers was on in full force. The Theatres had filled earlier.

Reading the breathless menu with its descriptions of meats "marinated in a black bean vinaigrette" I ordered Brisket with horseradish mashed potatoes and "greens." When it arrived it proved to be a cross section of flank steak boiled to death. It had never been near a black bean or vinegar in its long career. The mashed potatoes had more flavors than the meat. It was difficult to tell if the "greens" were any particular species, they were so weak the mashed potatoes beat them up.

Burping delicately as I descended the stairs, I discovered that The Caravan of Allstars had gone on a long time in the first set and Bobby Rush was only just starting at just before ten to ten. Much more waiting ensued.

A guy in a Marcel wave and wannabe Lester Young pants treated me to an example of grace under pressure. He zipped through every few minutes being tough saying things like "It’s running late, no refunds!" and "It’s not going to start until 11:15, I don’t care what they say, no refunds!" I practiced the doorman patter about waiting upstairs on people arriving for the 10:30 show, alternating with playing with the same panhandlers as earlier. It was coming to be a choice of waiting in the sitting room or sitting in the waiting room.

When the Show was finally announced and I was consigned to table 83 conveniently located at the far end, we were treated to the Caravan of Allstars show with Porkpie Phillips and Teddy "Bluesmaster" Watson. Teddy performed on the dark floor while Ronnie Stewart smiled in the spotlight. Teddy’s show being in the dark wasn’t of its usual force. Porkpie Phillips being up on stage could be seen though the sound system wasn’t entirely friendly to his vocals.

People around me were asking when Bobby Rush was coming on. Ronnie kept the Caravan up there. It’s dangerous to get between Ronnie and a microphone. His habit of interrupting whoever has the mic and adding unneeded commentary began to pall.

Changeover to Bobby Rush was fast and practiced. In no time at all the band was up and into the opening instrumental.

"And now Ladies and Gentlemen it’s Star Time! Can you say "Star Time?"

Bobby came on looking good and they were away into a fast one. Bobby wasted no time getting to the point of the show, Doin’ the Do! Yessir! I was amused at the nicely set up and controlled raunchiness of the opening song and the smiling leer being projected.

With the second number came the reproductive urge personified, Booty Girl Miss Lowe. Miss Lowe is a sweet looking girl with the most large shapely bottom and big legs on the face of the planet. She changes clothes often during the show and all of them are appropriately designed for the purpose of demonstrating she’s fine. This got my attention immediately and I found that my attention didn’t wander. Miss Lowe appears to find the whole thing amusing and looks very down to earth. She knows.

Bobby keeps a non-stop rap or song going at all times. All about sex and humans and what they want and who they want to do it with. Interspersed with this are varied demonstrations of human anatomy or discussions of it and how we’d like to do it with a lot more people than we’re doing it with, and more often too. All of it had a wise and funny view of mankind and our secret fantasies and foibles.

Bobby plays some great harp and really did so this night in a small room. He even got a guitar strapped on at the end. The band is one of the most practiced and tight I’ve seen. When they were announced and Bobby said how long they’d been with him it became clear that the Rush organization is strong tight and family. He had two sons in the band and musicians who’d been with him for decades. Any segueway was possible, Bobby had but to wave and the next passage or song would start. Seamless.

We learned why we should forgive each other for being just like us. Why it’s gonna be like this and we should all be having fun. Bobby is a preacher for a whole ‘nother way of looking at things than what the prudes say. Bobby says the things we’re thinking. Meanwhile Miss Lowe continued to be the living embodiment of what Bobby was singing about. As Bobby said she was fine on one side, fine on another side, fine fine from the backside and fine fine fine from the front. Lordy, I’m just a country boy!

Since my attention was riveted on the show I didn’t take notes, thank god. So if you want descriptions of the songs you’re out of luck, buy Bobby’s CDs, Bluebeat has a bunch of them.

Out into the night, the Theatre District, and the parking garage, despite the interminable wait and the dubious service at Biscuits, Bobby Rush had made it worth it. The Total Immersion Tour was well under way.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2005

Tradewinds/Bobby Young/Wylie Trauss by: Mo. 7/8/05

I was planning on starting out my long bluesy weekend on Thursday
night with Sonny Lowe but work is killer right now with all these
vacations going on. Friday being what it was, I’m so glad I
didn’t go out.

I waited for Friday and the big grand reopening of The Tradewinds!
This was exciting although for old time’s sake, they
should’ve had a local band play.
But hey, I guess it wasn’t old times sake now was it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited that the old place is open
again, and that they have live music, and I’m VERY excited about gettingsome outside blues in the place, but they should’ve opened with a local band is all.

I do have to admit that if anyones from the “outside” should open,
I’m glad it was THE BOBBY YOUNG PROJECT!

Strange that he should be the opener since I’ve been wanting to
catch up to him ever since that “glimpse” I caught of his playing one
night down at the Baltic about a year or so ago.
He was playing with the Reed Fromer Band.
It was a fluke that I even heard him since there was a double-
booking and Daniel was on my agenda.
I pulled up in the front, rolled down my windows, finished my smoke
while listening to what I discovered wasn’t Daniel at all!
The song was “I Feel Good” or “Mustang Sally” and I
was ready to put plan B into action and then it happened....
the guitar cried out for a short tease before the song ended.
Still smokin’, waitin' and listenin’, the next song was a slow
burnin’ blues which turned out to be “The Thrill is Gone”. It was enough to drag me out of the van and inside to see what all the commotion was about.
What a killer song and then it broke into “Play That Funky Music
White Boy” and that was it for me.
I have been wonderin’ about this guy, and here he is, with his
own band, and opening our little old Tradewinds!

Meanwhile.....
I pulled up to the ‘winds and it was great to see the lot full
once again!
Walked in and it almost felt as though the place never closed. Lots
of familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in a long while. It was a
real cool feeling of being home.
Beelined for the stage area and I didn’t recognize anybody but
Bobby (whom I've seen once) on stage and that was weird. It didn’t
matter but still it was weird and out of sorts for some reason.
I fell into their groove and it was cool. A very talented band this
Bobby Young Project and a very busy stage.
They had a lady that played a cool lookin’ violin. They had
congas, keys, drums, bass, guitar, and ALL awesome.
I was wanting more of that guitar and badly I might add. I was
waiting for a song or two that featured just Bobby on that guitar
with just the piano, drums, and bass but it didn’t happen.


A great groovin’ band and lots of fun to dance to. Although more
blues is always good, I was having fun dancing along, tuning into all
the different things going on on stage, and then it happened- WYLIE
TRAUSS got up there and laid his magic on me!!
OK....Ok...on all of us ;-)
Aaaah....man, can he sing!
He was at eye level and on the floor with the dancers and he’s
got it
ladies! Go experience a Wylie show in a small venue. The interaction
is classic blues showmanship.
A real treat indeed. He sang some slow blues and even threw in a
shuffle after that!
I just love that guy’s voice and stage presence. So soft and
soulful,
I'm not sure how to discribe it.
We would also catch Wylie Trauss at the Hayward/Russell City Blues
Fest this last weekend. With a better sound system his vocals were
even better!

I wish I could introduce the rest of the “Project” because
they were
all great, but the only ones I know of are Bobby Young and of course,
Wylie Trauss.
Very good at what they do and it was fun just watching all this
groovin' stuff going on on stage. Just give me more blues baby and
especially that blues guitar!
But hey, that’s just me.
I can't wait for them to come back and next time I'm staying all
night.

It was great to see the place almost full and dancing was goin’
on! I
can’t wait for Saturday night.
Michael Barclay is back!!!!
See you there.....

Mo

PS- THANK YOU TRADEWINDS!


Posted by Mo at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2005

Layce Baker/The Calistoga Crawl---7/2/05

I wasn't gonna go out at all lastnight but then I noticed that that band I caught at Sonny's jam awhile back called Blind Curve, was gonna be at The Russian River brewery in Santa Rosa!
I was excited about this because the songs they did then were killer!
This band is led by local guitar great Jake Richmond.
I went and after about two songs I was in thinking mode of what else was going on in the area.
Too much Rock and I wasn't in the mood. They were good but it wasn't clicking for me on this night.
I was in the mood for something to reach in and steal my soul on this night!
But of course, anything would have a hard time living up to the previous night.

I couldn't recall much that was going on in the area but I did recall that Layce Baker and his Black Diamond Blues Band were gonna be at the Calistoga Inn on the other side of the mountain.

I asked Anne if she was game since she was also there at the brewery but she declined after the big day. She did give me some awesome directions.
I had never been that route, "The Grueling" route she called it.
Shoot, I was ready to take the long way, the only way that I knew of. Thanks for the directions Anne. That route shaved much valuable bluesin' time off the road and it was indeed fast.
It was grueling alright but it's pretty much like my commute every morning just a different mountain and a bit shorter.

I had never been to Calistoga so this was a first. I have been wanting to check it out.
Got there in a flash and this little tourist town was hoppin'!
Lots and lots of kids walking up and down the street.

Walked in the place and it pretty much was packed. Bottle-necked along the bar, kinda like the saloon, I squeezed my way thru heading toward the sound of the band.
Whew! I made it to the little area they placed the band and the dance floor.
It was sounding good already and I hadn't even settled in yet!

There he was- the guy I had traveled over that mountain for. The guy who won me over at the Black Diamond Blues fest- LAYCE BAKER!
That guitar playing of his is so awesome it would prove to be well worth that "grueling" ride.
Not only that, the whole band is great!
He also had a female singer who was good, even thru the crappy PA, but her moment would be a song that brought tears to my eyes, she was just wonderful!
I wish I remembered the name of it but I never heard it before lastnight.
Something about, "They call me Sunshine but that ain't my real name" and she sang it with such conviction that all I could do was stand and watch her, in awe.

Layce would give me my money's worth several times thru-out the night on that guitar.
Why I haven't been out to hear him more is beyond me. Definitely an under-rated guitar player. It won't happen again.

Yeah, I know, he'll be a the Russell City Blues Fest this next weekend but I just had to crawl over that mountain to him to scope out a new venue. New to me anyway.

The place was hoppin' and man do they love to dance!!
The little floor packed all night I was knocked around quite a bit. I was surrounded by tall, white, well-dressed, drunk, yuppie kids and they are the rudest!!
Not hardly an applause after the songs partly because everyone had a drink in their hands but mostly because they were rude.

Not an appreciative crowd and I was feeling out of place applauding, cheering and stuff because I would be the only one doing it for the most part. This band deserved MUCH better than the rudeness of these people but hell, they were dancing and they paid to get in. I just hate seeing bands treated like that.
The band was on the floor with the dancers and they had no regard for the lady singing and constantly knocked the mic around. Yuppie white kids are so rude. At least when their drunk ;-)

Not my kind of place to go and feel comfy while listening to the blues but I'm glad I finally found out.

During break, I sat in the van, smoking, listening to T-Bone, and in between songs I heard a faint sound of "live" drums in the distance. I walked down the road and it became louder.
I passed Suzy's Bar and it was the sound of DJ music. I thought to myself, "That wasn't the sound I heard" and I continued on. Down a little further was another place I had seen listed but never been to, "The Hydro bar & Grill".
THIS is where the "live" music was coming from. I was wondering how I deciphered this out of all the sounds off the street.
I looked in and the band was playing and people were dancing. The song was "Brick House" and the guy singing it was LARRY JONES!
He would be the only one I recognized.
He was playing guitar although most times I've seen him, he's doing bass duties.
I didn't go in. I had only one set left of Layce and I didn't wanna miss anymore than I already had. At least now I know where these two clubs are. I have seen them listed and know that many blues bands play there. I have a feeling that a band must cater to this particular crowd with all those songs we hate to hear such as Mustang Sally, Brick House, I Feel Good, and all those other worn out, over requested, over played songs.
But hell, it's a paycheck, right?

I headed back and endured more of the rudeness but managed to escape into my blues realm every once in awhile.

This area is much like St Helena's 1351 Club. Tourist area at day and young yuppie hang out at night.
Don't get me wrong...I have nothing against yuppies. I just think they need to be knocked down and put back into place every once in awhile. Their manners are appalling. Kind of reminds me of the way I've seen High School kids act in their own High School. Very disrespectful to their peers, teachers, and property.
I know one thing...if our kids ever acted like what I witnessed lastnite, even if I only heard about it, I'd beat their asses!
I don't care if they're 21, there asses would be mine.

So there it is...One awesome band, with one awesome guitarist, and one awesome band, playing in a venue that doesn't know an awesome thing when they hear it.
But hell...it's a paycheck, right?

I noticed Layce had CDs but I just couldn't do it. This month is so tight with the Daughter's birthday, blues fest, car repairs, I have to really watch it. Next time and there will be a next time just probably not there.
Later,
Mo

Posted by Mo at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)

July 02, 2005

Lil' Charlie/Mitch Woods/Daniel Castro 7/1/05

I went to Little Charlie and the Nightcats show lastnight and let me tell you....it was amazing!!

Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88s opened and what an opener!
They were the perfect match for the headliner.

Mitch is a dynamic piano player and singer. Loads of originals, one tight band, and the energy from the stage is contagious.
He let all the players shine and gave them each plenty of showcase tunes.
He didn't just pass the song around to each player for a solo. They each would have to wait for their song.
He let his sax man blow his brains out thru a couple and man can that guy play!
He let that guitarist play his heart on a couple and man can that guy play!!
There was no jam style stuff. It was professional.
Just when I thought the guitarist was gonna stop and hand back the song to Mitch, Mitch put his spare hand in the air, (the one not poundin' the keys) and signaled another round. This would go on and on until it built up to one euphoric song. It was truly a professional show.
The finale was Mitch standing on his keyboard, while playing, and really gettin' the house jumpin'!

It was a hair away from an encore but we all knew we had Little Charlie coming out and time was running out.
There was no way an encore could've lived up to that grand ending anyway.

I love that band and it had been way too long since I had seen Mitch Woods and it won't be that long again.
A bit too much swing but he mixed it up pretty good to make it bearable for me;-)

Next is a band that hardly ever plays around here. Even though they live right in the area! It probably is a good thang since too much of a good thang can be too much.

Little Charlie came out and I was starting to worry that Mitch had shown them up and they wouldn't be able to live up to that opener but they pulled through.
The dance floor filled and the place was hoppin'.
They have some new songs and this was refreshing. Rick Estrin can really write some funny stuff.

He blows some great harp but NEVER over does it.
I just love his style. Mr Suave.

Always a great show from this band.
The energy level went up a notch with each song. Little Charlie is just so damn good.
He can play that guitar and play it well.
It's amazing just to watch him let alone listen.

The whole night was intense and I am stilled filled with that adrendiline rush one gets from a show such as this.

The encore happened with a trio consisting of Little Charlie and the rhythm section.
Charlie dedicated this beautiful instrumental to Doug Smith.

I don't know what else to say about this band that I haven't said before.
From jumpin' westcoast blues to hardcore rockin' blues to down-home Chicago blues...they do it all.

One funny moment:
There was a few of us up against the stage. Practically sitting on the stage. Rick Estrin was doing one of his talking intros into a song they were about to do.
The whole place was quiet as though you could hear a pin drop. They were just about ready to start and Dee turns around and yells back at me:
"HE SURE DOES TALK A LOT. WHY DON'T THEY JUST PLAY?"

and everyone looked to see where it came from including the band!

Now, I was beginning to think the same thing but just not out loud like that. I was rollin' from embarrassment and I couldn't stop laughing. It was just so Dee and she is one to say it like it is, that's for sure. I love her for that quality but sometimes.....

It was all over too soon but there was plenty of time to shoot up to Santa Rosa for a set of Daniel Castro and that I did.

I walked in and there were loads of familiar blues lovin faces.
That was great to see. It's getting to be more and more like that with his shows at this venue. Really cool.

Danny had a new bassist and he was real good. I heard he will be playing with him from now on?
I think that's what I heard.
T.Moran was on vacation and there was another drummer from Santa Cruz that Mike Emerson used to play with in James Armstrong's band. He was REALLY good.
This is one of the best bands of "fill-ins" that I've heard with Daniel.
Mike Emerson was there and this is always a great thing.

Daniel was just his same old awesome self.
Just lots of guitar and his vocals on this night seemed so much clearer and sweeter than previous nights. I'm not sure if it was a different PA or lack of a sound guy on this night but they sounded real nice, loud and clear. I could make out more detail in his chords or something. Real nice.
Daniel did an intro on guitar to "As The Years Go Passing By" that was the sweetest, saddest thing I've heard since "Blues for Mario". He would continue on with that guiatr through out the song. Spectacular!!!
This is the same song that allowed him to really put some heart felt soul in his voice for some of the best vocals I've ever heard from Daniel.
He just took the band with him on this song and they followed along beautifully although I'm pretty certain they weren't sure where they were going.
This guy is just so amazing and it's always HIS show. That you can count on!!!

What a great night with THREE great bands and ALL in Sonoma County!!


Later,
Mo

Posted by Mo at 05:49 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2005

King Biscuit Time

Far away, 2000 miles away across the Mountains and Plains and on down
in the lower Mississippi basin in "the Delta" and the cotton patch
lies the town of Helena, Arkansas. In early 1941 Sonny Boy Williamson
and Robert Lockwood walked into new radio station KFFA and talked
their way into having a noon-time fifteen minute radio program to play
some blues and announce their gigs for the night and week. They
landed King Biscuit Flour as their sponsor. It was the first blues
program ever. Within a year the show was simulcast on stations in
Clarksdale and Belzoni, Mississippi and reached almost 10% of the
African-American population (Mississippi wasn't then depopulated).
Sonny Boy would have a brand of corn meal named after him. The show
would continue for twenty-five years, with Sonny Boy appearing
whenever he was in town and a host of now-famous musicians (Joe Willie
Wilkins, Houston Stackhouse, Robert Nighthawk, etc.) passing through
it's roster. It was the King Biscuit Show.

"Good evening, everybody, tell me how do you do
Good evening, everybody, tell me how do you do
We're the King Biscuit Boys, come out to welcome you

Every morning, give me King Biscuits in my hand
Every morning, give me King Biscuits in my hand
Every time you see me I'm reaching over in the pan

Goodbye, hello, goodbye
Goodbye, hello, goodbye
I didn't come here to stay, I just come here to work awhile

This morning I just dropped in your town
This morning I just dropped in your town
We're the King Biscuit boys, trying to knock these blues around"
(a different version was recorded by Sonny Boy on Chess)

Helena was a hot town in the 1940s and 50s, being a river rail head,
commercial center for the whole of the Southwest Arkansas agricultural
area and a lot of northwest Mississippi, and it had a Chrysler plant
in those days. And unlike most southern towns it wasn't residentally
segregated. It bacame a magnet and home base for musicians.

Helena has fallen on harder times since then. The fall of the
railroads, the depopulation of the Delta, the end of manufacturing hit
the town hard and its population fell. Helena still had its blues past
and King Biscuit Time never stopped broadcasting (though now it's
mostly recorded).

Twenty-five years ago people of the town of Helena started the King
Biscuit Blues Festival, using the image of Sonny Boy Corn Meal as their
logo. It has developed into one of the premier Blues Festivals. Held
in the unusual time of the second week of October with chancy weather,
it is also the time when most touring acts have just completed their
summer tours. Great musicians go there for an annual get-together, and
the lineups for "The Biscuit" are among the best. A Biscuit
appearance is considered an honor.

With four stages and three days the hits just keep on coming. The
volunteer fire department runs a camp ground right on the levy, and
motels are booked up as far away as Memphis. 90,000+ people attend the
festival with the stages right out on the streets. The civic
association which runs the Festival has managed to keep it mostly
free. Street acts abound there too.

This years lineup has just been announced:

2005 King Biscuit Blues Festival

Main Stage - Thursday 10/06
12:00/12:25 Emerging Artists - TBA
12:30/12:55 Emerging Artists - TBA
1:00/1:25 Emerging Artists - TBA
1:30/1:55 Emerging Artists - TBA
2:00/2:35 John Alex Mason
2:45/3:25 SBBS Talent Winner – AJ & The Two Tone Blues Band
3:40/4:25 Diunna Greenleaf & The Mercy Blues Band
4:40/5:50 Mark Sallings & The Famous Unknowns w/CW Gatlin
6:00/7:10 Sterling Billingsley w/James Morgan
7:25/8:35 Lonnie Shields
8:55/10:10 The Cate Brothers
10:30/11:45 The Kentucky Headhunters

Main Stage – Friday 10/07
12:00/1:00 John Weston & Carla Robinson
1:15/2:20 Sam Carr & The Delta Jukes w/Dave Riley
2:35/3:45 Larry McCray
4:00/5:10 Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues
5:30/6:40 Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin
7: 00/8:15 Walter "Wolfman" Washington
8:45/10:00 James Cotton
10:30/11:45 Little Milton

Main Stage – Saturday 10/08
12:00/1:00 Reba Russell
1:15/2:25 Little Charlie & The Nightcats
2:40/3:50 Otis Taylor
4:05/5:20 Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets Featuring Sam Myers
5:35/6:50 Robert Lockwood, Jr
7:05/8:25 Mark Hummel with James Harman and Little Sonny
8:45/10:00 Irma Thomas
10:30/11:45 Bobby Rush

Houston Stackhouse Acoustic Stage – Friday 10/07
12:00/1:00 Steve Cheseborough & The Mississippi Spoonman
1:20/2:20 Paul Geremia
2:40/3:40 Bob Margolin
4:00/5:00 Fruteland Jackson

Robert Lockwood Heritage Stage - Friday 10/07
5:30/6:40 Cedell Davis
7:00/8:10 Henry Gray
8:30/9:40 Eb Davis
10:00/11:15 Wallace Coleman

Houston Stackhouse Acoustic Stage – Saturday 10/08
12:00/1:00 Spencer Bohran
1:20/2:20 Richard Johnston
2:40/3:40 Eddie Cusic
4:00/5:00 Drink Small

Robert Lockwood Heritage Stage - Saturday 10/08
5:30/6:40 Honeyboy Edwards
7:00/8:10 Arthur Williams
8:30/9:40 Willie King
10:00/11:15 John Primer

What a lineup! Even the names you don't know are tops. I want to go.
Even now the Mississippi still calls me from time to time. If I
disappear in early October it's because I went to Memphis and the Biscuit.

King Biscuit Blues Festival

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 07:50 AM | Comments (1)