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December 24, 2005

This Sweet Old World

I have several friends who are depressed, withdrawn, swearing off the world, travelling the same narrow path over and over for 'security', or other related behaviors. Some have trouble with the Holidays.

When I was stuck in concrete moldy narrow Honolulu 2000 miles from the real world I played this song alot, and I came back to the big world:

"See what you lost when you left this world,
This sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world,
This sweet old world

The breath from your own lips,
The touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss

The sound of a midnight train,
Wearing someone's ring
Someone calling your name

Somebody so warm
Cradled in your arm
Didn't you think
You were worth anything?

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

Millions of us in love,
Promises made good
Your own flesh and blood

Looking for some truth,
Dancing with no shoes
The beat, the rhythm, the blues

The pounding of your heart's drum
Together with another one
Didn't you think
Anyone loved you?

See what you lost when you left this world,
This sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world,
This sweet old world

See what you lost when you left this world,
This sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world,
This sweet old world"

((c) Lucinda Williams)

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

Blues for Katrina by Big Cat Tolefree

December 2005
By Eldridge “Big Cat ” Tolefree

After hurricane Katrina left the southern states in ruins, much of the relief efforts centered around rebuilding communities and reuniting families.Not much has been mentioned about the thousands of African American musicians losing their means to earn a living. Besides becoming homeless brothers and sisters lost their instruments,equipment and most importantly a place to play.

On November 19th and 20th of this year The Bay Area Blues Society led by Ronnie Stewart, held a twenty four non-stop blues marathon to raise money to support the victims of the devastated areas.Hundreds of International and Bay Area blues bands performed live at the historic Vallejo Performing Arts Center headlined by legendary
blues icons Jimmy McCracklin and Kenny Neal. The fund raiser was a good old down home party, featuring everything from Jazz, New Orleans style Blues, Zydeco and Gospel. You can still contribute to the fund raising efforts or find
out more about the concert at www.bayareabluessociety.net

I hung out for the entire 24 hours of the “Blues Around The Clock ”concert and interviewed many
of the recording artists that performed.Some of the performers interviewed included former Big Momma Thorton keyboard player, Billy Dunn,saxophonist Bernard Anderson, vocalist Teddy “Blues Master ”Watson and new comer Ms.Tia Carroll. The next time you hear music coming from New Orleans or Mississippi, remember the Bay Area did it ’s part to keep Jazz and Blues music alive and kickin ’.

Until next time, more peace, less grease and red meat...

Big Cat
Blues For The Soul
< href="http://www.bigcatentertainment.com/>Big Cat Tolefree and the Hypnotics

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2005

Magic Slim, Carl Weathersby, Phil Guy at Horseman's Club 12/4/05

Magic Slim, Carl Weathersby, Phil Guy, and Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne at Horseman's Club, Sacramento 12/4/05

I'd heard of the Horseman's Club gigs in Sacramento, blues people told me about them. "You haven't been? You're missing out." Then the email came two weeks ago from blues friend Lucretia telling me to go December 4th. The unwritten "Be there or be square, Dummy" was there between the lines.

Down the Valley of the Moon, across Carneros to the Napa High Bridge and Jameson Canyon to the Central Valley and mighty eight and ten lane Interstate 80, the map unrolled in my head and I realized I hadn't been on the road for too long. Across the Yolo Causeway and the half-flooded Yolo lowlands, the tall buildings of Sacramento rose from the flat center of California.

I found my Watt Ave. exit off I-80 and Longview Drive. I was looking for a Horseman's Club that I'd imagined to be a bar where people with medallions and alligator shoes played the ponies.

To my surprise I found a parkland setting with a rustic sign saying "Sacramento Horsemen's Association" and a hand lettered paper sign out front saying "FEST." Back away from the road was an old time California single story building made of two by fours painted the classic redwood color. Waved by a volunteer to park in back, I found the place well stocked with stables and horse trailers and the housetrailers of grooms. It's a real horse place all right

Walking back up the gravel driveway into the Club there was a line of people paying and getting wristbands and a strong aroma of barbecue. $20 bucks for 7 hours of top Chicago blues, hey, a no-brainer.

Getting inside, I found the place was packed a half-hour before the start and all the chairs taken. I'm going to get there earlier next time. Right away I started bumping into folks I knew from shows far and wide. Lucretia, Dorothy, Deb Lubin, Joe Lempkowski, Linda Maria, and best of all Mo and Albert getting out for the first time in a long time. Those from San Francisco reported getting held up by a police action on the Bay Bridge.

I was excited to see the Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne added to the show. I have him as a sideman on certain CDs and had admired his work. I'd noticed that headliners want his excellent piano and keyboard work behind them. He's one of the last of the Piano Professors. Seeing him live he delighted me by dressing sharp like a piano professor should. His California road band was the back up band for the night, Takezo on guitar, Dave "Hurricane" Hoerl on harp, Paul Olguin on bass, and Rick Sankey on drums. I was impressed again by Takezo and Paul.

Having only twenty minutes or so as the frontman on stage Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne showed why he's so highly regarded. Hot keyboard solos and a smooth voice worked through fine material with ease. The one I particularly liked was a new treatment for "Tangeray" that had an almost afro-cuban sway to it that rescued the song from it usual jingle beat. Kenny has a very pleasant voice that went fine with a playful song. Another highlight was Kenny adjusting his Roland to some 'voice sounds' and playing vocal scat on the keys. It was a fine show of piano mastery by the "Blues Boss" in a too short time.

I've seen Phil Guy several times going back over the years to '74 or 75. A rhythm guitarist in those years for his brother, he's progressed over the years to being very much his own man with his own sound and voice, while never wasting time 'breaking' with his past. His series of JSP recordings have kept his visibility up and he's always worked, including in Northern California. Every time I've seen him he's better too.

He had a good song right at the beginning; "It's too late to do me right, you done me wrong too many times." His guitar was biting and dramatic in a direct way. It burned, Phil just has that burning sound, maybe it's the fine old telecaster, and maybe it's the fingers that make it scream. Really, it's Phil.

A great vocal on "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing" that was heartfelt and funny by turns, set off the fine solos by Phil on guitar and Kenny Wayne on keyboards. Phil got off a fine "While You Were Steppin' Out" followed by a reworking of "Hello San Francisco" as "Hello Sacramento". With Phil the song's the thing and he was right on target with "Merry Christmas Baby" done low and soulful. Sweet.

A classic "Woman, You Must Be Crazy (just stone out of your mind)" right out of the Guy songbook had that wild sound. A searing solo and a nice Kenny Wayne solo made this a driving blues. "Cherry Wine" had me singing along, "I think I move back down south" and "…'til my heart done almost froze."

On the break was a surprise, Omar Shariff, with his advanced piano chops was brought on for a couple of tunes. I dug that he did "The Christmas Song" with jazz comping while singing in a Smokey voice. Delicious.

Circulating at the breaks I can report the place is like an old California roadhouse/ juke joint. Next time I want to get there early enough to get seats. Great barbecue. Wonderful audience, just so comfortable, you can talk to anybody there as it's all music fans and musicians. There's a small dance floor in front, the promoter Big Mike Balma insisted that room be made for it and fans are allowed to stand/dance at the side of the stage. The musicians sat at outside tables and talked with the fans. Magic Slim did a Howlin' Wolf joke for me. I Loved it.

Carl Weathersby came on and all chance for me to take notes was gone between the crush of people, the fading light, and the wildness of Carl's performance. If you want screaming solos that are melodic and not mere motor activity, Carl's your guy. It was one of the great displays of lead guitar work. Unable to really work through his particular songbook, as he was not in front of his own band, he did classics including Sweet Home Chicago. It didn't matter; Carl transformed all of them into wild attacks on the blues scale. Crazy entertainment!

After a while Carl went into the audience, and sang without a microphone to the front rows that seemed to migrate towards him by osmosis. His guitar chord wasn't long enough and pulled out of the amplifier. The rhythm section covered the hole nicely for about a verse when Phil Guy appeared on stage and plugged in his guitar and covered the song while Carl was out front. Phil stayed on stage and played solid rhythm guitar freeing up Carl to get even wilder. Struggling with a guitar that wasn't staying in tune (big string bends and temperature variations) and a broken string, Carl powered on with those of us at the side screaming at times.

Howlin' Wolf tunes came out of the songbag halfway on ("I'm a Wolf guy," said Carl). "Spoonful" and "44" had a ton of drive. Phil was putting on a rhythm clinic along with Paul Olguin. Carl started playing with his teeth as the crush grew at the front of the stage and people at the side called out. It was a hell of a set. I'm a Carl Weathersby fan now, and of Phil Guy's rhythm work.

Magic Slim's band came on for the usual opening tunes and that was nice. Jon McDonald can play some hot guitar and he did a nice "Red House". "And now Ladies and Gentlemen, the Star of the Show---MAGIC SLIM!" Moving his large frame through the packed crowd at the side of the stage, he strapped into his metallic baby-blue Fender Jazzmaster, moved his high stool closer to the microphone, fixed the height of the mike, growled "ready for some blues?" and then powered us away from ordinary reality.

I can't explain about Magic Slim, words just do no good explaining his style, full of classic Chicago riffs and licks, but utterly his own with a sense of prophets and doom and the workings of fate. Searing out his licks at a steady rate, never hurrying, Slim has a thick powerful sound that sears into the brain like an ice pick. Then there's the fantastic thick sound he gets for certain tunes as he growls out lyrics. His songs come from all kinds of artists and it's amazing how they all sound like Magic Slim.

I was standing at the side of the stage, as there wasn't any chance of getting out on a dance floor packed with mesmerized people. Towering people had no chance against blues friend Dorothy who was at the front, with just the top of her head showing above stage level. Slim towered over everyone whether standing and sitting.

Slim plays slow blues a lot. He should too. At the side of the stage all of us were swaying to the slow groove. Monster thick tone carried us away to another place and the air was thick with moisture and breathing. It was the gods celebrating biology and humanity in their ancient halls. I have seldom been so into the groove or so overcome emotionally. Slim can play slow for me anytime. It was like slow burning love.

Carl Weathersby joined Slim for the last half-hour, more than six hours into the show (!) and they really burned. It was amazing, as they seemed to pass the leads back and forth based on some signal I couldn't see. Again, words simply fail to describe the power of their performance. At the very end, Carl said to Slim, "That was like old times, wasn't it Slim?"

I'd like to thank Big Mike Balma for putting these shows on. I have seen the Juke and the Juke shall prevail.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 07:16 PM | Comments (3)

December 02, 2005

Zebulon's twice over 11/14/05 and 12/1/05

I'm a complete dingbat about the Birthday observance thing, I always hide my birthday and then I'm hurt because nobody notices. It goes to the loveless early years of my childhood, and the loveless later years of my marriage. I worked to get over it this year and succeeded in actually mentioning that it was my birthday ahead of time at the house and to a few people. At the house Ronnie Jean took over and suddenly there was a guitar-shaped pan of chewy brownies. And she headed off to the dollar store with the devil in her eye.

That evening, I headed down to Zebulon's with 'The Hat' and my red haired wild sister aboard for what was billed as Jay Eisenberg's Birthday Party. The 'lithe lady' met us there. I knew it was actually my Birthday Party but I didn't tell Jay.

The band was Karl Marenko on keyboards with members of Fiasco and Bill Johnson on guitar. Plus out in front, the great Martin Fierro (Tower of Power) on tenor saxophone. I settled in and had an excellent brew from Zeb's fine list. Jay bought me a second one and I was loose (I hardly drink for all the well-known experience reasons).

Karl and Bill and Martin were doing interesting things to jazzy and better quality songs and it was a gas. People danced some on the really danceable tunes. It was a living room with the good musicians over to visit.

After a while Levi Lloyd went and got his guitar out of the car ("Don't leave home without it!" -Glen Sullivan). And for the second set Levi sat in and he, Martin, and Carl and the band went through a whole soul-jazz and New Orleans funk songbook that I had only a little idea that Levi knew. Levi's double stop work like Wes Montgomery was a highlight as was his New Orleans rhythm sound behind Martin's solos. Astounding Jazz/Funk/blues work! It was a revelation, with Martin getting some hot and cool solos. All this was done at a sound level way below the usual club sound pressure. Levi and Martin had played together twenty years ago and they were having a ball. What a great Birthday!

*****

On December first I drove over the hill and saw my kids in the annual Band concert that opens the season in Calistoga. My daughter has progressed on the French Horn, but she says she's giving it up 'cause it interferes with the classes she really wants to pursue.

My Son the drummer, was the sole drummer for the High School Band. Flipping and twirling his sticks the way drummers do, he powered his way and the band through "Blue Bossa", "C-Jam Blues", Horace Silver's "Song For My Father", and "Comin' Home Baby Now". Kids mobbed him after it was over and made him play a few seconds more. The light of ego was slightly in his eyes, cool though he tries to be. He's got the drive. Guess I didn't lose money buying him drums. The teacher wouldn't let him wear one of the hats he always wears so I was able to determine his hair is still brown and there's a lot of it. The hat was back on within seconds of the show's end. Hugging the kids, it was time for them to go home on a school night, and it was over too soon.

Driving back over the hill to Highway 101 I drove down to Zebulon's where Jay had invited me to see Billy C. Farlow and Rich Kirch. As I came in it was just the two of them with electric guitars. Billy sang and played the harp and played rhythm guitar. Rich Kirch played a whole bunch of hard down home riffs (he was in John Lee Hooker's band for years) and licks. The "living room" had two electric musicians and their amps in it doing the Muddy Waters/Robert Johnson/John Lee Hooker thing.

"Tell Automatic Slim, tell Razor Totin' Jim
Tell Butcher Knife Totin' Annie, tell Fast Talking Fanny
A we gonna pitch a ball, a down to that union hall
We gonna romp and tromp till midnight
We gonna fuss and fight till daylight
We gonna pitch a wing dang doodle all night long
All night long
All night long
All night long

Tell Kudu-Crawlin' Red, tell Abyssinian Ned
Tell ol' Pistol Pete, everybody gonna meet
Tonight we need no rest, we really gonna throw a mess
We gonna to break out all of the windows,
We gonna kick down all the doors
We gonna pitch a wing dang doodle all night long
All night long
All night long
All night long

Tell Fats and Washboard Sam, that everybody gonna to jam
Tell Shaky and Boxcar Joe, we got sawdust on the floor
Tell Peg and Caroline Dye, we gonna have a time
When the fish scent fill the air, there'll be snuff juice everywhere
We gonna pitch a wing dang doodle all night long
All night long
All night long
All night long
All night long"
(© Willie Dixon)

Rich started out too loud burying the vocal, but seemed to try to moderate that. At the break he asked us out on the street if he was too loud. "I played with McCarty of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels in the 80s and that ruined my ears, we played really loud." We just told him to turn down one number on his amp. He did and it was fine. It was a longish fun break talking with folks; it's an interesting crowd at Zebulon's, very hip and experienced.

Talking to Jay the owner, he's determined to build a solid club with fine acts and a welcoming atmosphere. He's getting a lot of support and the musicians are coming to him since he's well known and because Zebulon's has a lower volume living room feel. Well-known jazz pianist Dick Conti is coming back even though he played to an empty house because he likes the room and the feel. Jay is booking blues, jazz, and unplugged advanced rock acts with new material. Jay went out and got a piano, and John Allair tunes it for him. This place is gonna be the thinking fan's place. Fun paintings on the wall too.

The second set was really fun as they pulled a lot of winners out of the song bag like Robert Johnson's "32-20" and "Kind Hearted Woman, Sonny Boy Williamson's "Eyesight to the Blind", and J. J. Cale's "Magnolia."

"Whippoorwills singing
Soft summer breeze
Makes me think of my baby
I left down in New Orleans
I left down in New Orleans

Magnolia, you sweet thing
You're driving me mad
Got to get back to you, babe
You're the best I ever had
You're the best I ever had

You whisper "good morning"
So gently in my ear
I'm coming home to you, babe
I'll soon be there
I'll soon be there."
(© J.J. Cale)

Swamp thing sorghum syrup sugar time down south. I had such a good time. Hard blues and related songs done at a volume so nice and with lots of soul. I can take lots of good music in the living room.

Ronnie's presents turned out to be a Golf sign turned into a Rolf sign, a wall switch cover repainted to look like my friend the house cat Macker, a nite light painted to look like Macker, a box of dirty message birthday hard candy, and Ms. Right, a squeezable doll that says things like "It's OK if you don't take the garbage out, honey, I need the excercize."

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)