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January 31, 2006

Honeyboy Edwards at Biscuits and Blues 1/23/06 with Chris Cotton opener

I have seldom made it into the City so fast. Monday night traffic on Hwy 101 is fast. I was at the Golden Gate Bridge in only an hour. I was able to make a tight schedule and be at Biscuits and Blues in time for the opening soundcheck. Honeyboy played only about twenty-four bars and sounded so old Delta that people cheered.

I introduced myself to Chris Cotton and we talked a while about resonator guitars. Greeting Dorothy, Lucretia, Deb, Irene, and other friends from the blues scene, I was pleased to see legendary drummer Francis Clay enter the club looking better than he had some months ago. I settled in at the bar and ordered some catfish. As the fish arrived with Chile tartar sauce, Chris Cotton climbed up on stage and unlimbered his guitar.


The talking blues about hitchhiking through Mississippi, "Morgan City, MS", had a run through of Chris' experiences meeting Mississippi. "If you ain't from Mississippi, what you doin' here?"

photo: Jimmy Cooper

"Bill Bailey" followed; Chris did it almost exactly the way my mother sang it as she cleaned house in the 50's. She said she learned it in the late 20s. Chris finished his abbreviated set with "Deep in the Storm." The low concrete ceiling and sound adjustment hadn't really done Chris a lot of favors, but he did a good job.

Honeyboy and his manager and harp sideman Michael Frank got up on stage and Honeyboy unlimbered his electric guitar, a KISS Korean Paul Stanley Silvertone Sovereign. The first song was a very spare and really good "Catfish." Honeyboy played few notes and beautifully sketched the classic riff of the song. It segued into the Muddy Waters' "Rolling Stone" update of the song. Muddy's "Country Boy" was next.

photo: Jimmy Cooper

"Don't say I don't love you, just because I stays out all night long,
Don't say I don't love you, just because I stays out all night long,
I'm just a country boy, and I don't know what's goin' on."
(McKinley Morganfield)

Using a slide, Honeyboy sketched out the bones of the blues, playing the basic riff of the song and no other notes. Sometimes his playing was strong, sometimes ghostly. On the song "Lindy Lou, where you been so long?" the ghosts really woke up and Honeyboy played really strongly. It was a song from the long ago down home.

photo: Jimmy Cooper

One of the electrifying moments was "Crossroads" with Honeyboy doing an eerily accurate Robert Johnson guitar part. The trademark sound was there without any strain. "Roll and Tumble" really had that thirties feel. Honeyboy really needed dancers, Biscuits isn't really set up for that. Dancing feet pounding a wood floor in a shotgun house would have really set these tunes off properly.

photo: Jimmy Cooper

"West Helena Blues" brought out a story about what Helena was like in the 40s, much hotter than it is 60 years later. Gambling was the economic engine that ran Helena and Beale street was Honeyboy's statement--when the authorities shut down gambling they shut down the music joints.

Michael Frank led Honeyboy through a series of anecdotes about the blues. Asked why he'd gone to Texas, Honeyboy said, "To record for Don Robey, he had Peacock Records. He was hard to get along with." He also recorded with "Mis McCallum" who was the talent scout who first recorded Lightnin' Hopkins and Amos Milburn in the 1940s.

Howlin' Wolf's "Riding In The Moonlight" was a surprise, bringing back West Memphis in the late 40s.

Michael Frank led Honeyboy through a series of anecdotes about the blues. Asked why he'd gone to Texas, Honeyboy said, "To record for Don Robey, he had Peacock Records. He was hard to get along with." He also recorded with "Mis McCallum" who was the talent scout who first recorded Lightnin' Hopkins and Amos Milburn in the 1940s.

Chris Cotton's second set was short due to time, and he showed a fine rhythmic ragtime picking on about three songs before he gave way to Honeyboy again.

photo: Jimmy Cooper
Honeyboy sensibly with Irene, Deb, and Rosanna

Honeyboy began to show signs of tiredness but had a nice run through of "You don't have to go." "Drop Down Mama" was also good, but with it began Honeyboy's struggles to tune his guitar. Using a slide he played Johnny Shines' "I Believe, I Believe My Time Ain't Long."

Honeyboy, now really tired tried to tune his guitar but it became almost impossible. Finally, dismissing the electric guitar he switched to his acoustic and did a fun "Big Fat Mama, Meat Shakin' On Her Bones."

Michael Franks talked about how he used to go to Honeyboy's house in Chicago in the 70s and play, and stories related to that. Seeing that Honeyboy was really tired and that it was close to midnight, he called an end to the show. It was a remarkable performance by a man in his 90s. There were times he took us back 70 years.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2006

Michael Barclay Band at Tradewinds 1/21/06

Walking into the 'Winds from the Marcia Ball show I was struck by the change in the Michael Barclay Band from a year ago. For a while it had seemed that the MBB was out of steam or floundering. They had honed their long-time material to razor sharpness, but seemed to be a bit dispirited. A series of low turnout shows had hurt the band. Turmoil in personal lives and personnel had an effect. Then Michael and Roger and the band began writing and recording new songs. The new CD came out.

When I walked in Michael was in the middle of a solo, one of those extended journeys across the harmonic frontiers of the blues. Michael was expansive and smiling as he did it, clearly enjoying himself. The band was loose and there were spaces and looseness in the arrangements, with signals passed. Roger Volz was exuding good humor and was clearly in the front line partly running things. For me this was all good. It was a breakout from the exactness of the band a year earlier. The new material really helps and the set orders have all changed.

They were rockin'! Driving the crowd out on the dance floor making good cheer all over the joint. Dance tunes flowed smoothly. They had me and the regulars out on the floor fast. I have no narrative of the songs; I was having too much fun.

For the last set Jane Fossgreen joined with her tenor sax and Steve Long with his trumpet and the band had a full horn section. Jane and Steve didn't try to get flashy; they were learning the section parts from Roger as they went. The result was a clean full sound that really did the band right. The band sounded full and rich. Lots of folks stayed for the last set and the dancing was great. The half of the show I saw was great, it's so good to see this band loose and trying new things, they're back on top.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

Marcia Ball at Mystic Theatre, Petaluma 1/21/06

There was a "not available" notice for on-line ticket orders. I called the Mystic only to find out that all Marcia Ball tickets had sold out a little while earlier. Thinking about it, I figured I'd buy somebody's extra ticket while standing at the entrance. I even made a sign.

Standing with my sign along side others in the same fix, I was the only one with a sign. Things happened fast when only one extra ticket showed up. I didn't get it. I continued holding the sign.

A bearded man with a takeout food tray stopped and looked at me. I recognized his face without being able to put a name or place to it. This is a dreaded condition of mine; I seem to file people by faces rather than names. If I see someone out of context I sometimes get confused.

Robi Bean

"You need a ticket?" he said politely.
"Yes, uh, your face is familiar."
No sooner than I said it I realized 'Jesus, it's Robi Bean the drummer.' I'd seen him many times.
"I'm Robi Bean," he said politely, "you need a ticket?"
While I was babbling my apologies he led me to the doorman, told him he was the drummer with Mari Mack, and put me on the guest list! I'm still stunned at his generosity.

While waiting outside for the show to begin, a parking space directly next to the Mystic miraculously opened up and Mo drove her van into it! Only Mo has things like this happen regularly. I teased her about it and she said, "Hey, I had to drive around the block once."

Mo was bummed out when she tried to get a ticket for the sold out show. I offered the "Need Ticket" sign; she looked at it like it had smallpox. All offers of hustle were declined. "I'll see you up at the Barclay show afterwards" and off she went.

Mari Mack and her band of Burton Winn on bass, Chip Roland on keyboards, Gary Vogensen of guitar, and Robi Bean on drums didn't waste any time and dove into "Sugar Coated Love." Gary had a great solo on "You Give Me Nothin' But The Blues", as did Chip Roland on "Little By Little".

Chip Roland

Now I get so disgusted when I try to kiss you
it just don't feel like it used to do.
Little by little, oh I'm losing you, that I can see
Bit by bit, your love is slipping away from me

Burton Winn

Mari has a good wry stage rap with deadpan cornball Henny Youngman jokes like "We can't get another dog-----There's no room left on the bed." This led into "Ok guys, I'm gonna do the The Story."

Mari Mack dressed in black

"…. The door bell rang and there was this young woman there and I could tell she had something to say…." This unfolded and led into Denise LaSalle's classic "Your Husband Is Cheating On Us" done very slowly. That led into a Caribbean flavored "Girl You're Better Off Without Him."

"Reconsider Baby" had a burning Gary Vogensen solo and a fine vocal. Mari and the band finished off her short set with a pounding rendition of Magic Sam's "I-I-I Really Love You." Too soon they were off. A tough tight set.


The set change of instruments went fairly rapidly and I watched Pat Boyack, resplendent in a flat black leather cap turned backwards, tune up his Van Zandt equipped blond strat. Plus, he had a red strat body set up for slide, with an old lap steel pickup at the bridge, and a certain type of old Japanese pickup at the neck (please forgive me, I suffer from Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). Both guitars were plugged into a Fender Super Reverb amp via a pedal board I couldn't decipher upside down. Marcia had a Roland piano.

Marcia came on stage acknowledging the applause and got right to work with "Rock Is What We Do" with a good Gulf Coast beat. The Louisiana beats continued with "Red Beans Cooking" a fun dance tune.

Pat Boyack was tuned loose for a monster solo following Marcia's great vocal on "Just Kiss Me Baby." The whole song just burned with feeling and body heat. Pat can and does play the guitar like it supposed to be played.

Mr. Boyack

One very affecting song was the New Orleans tribute "Down In Bugtown." Beautifully arranged, it was full of loss and regret.

"Zulu King" and "Can’t get enough of that stuff" kept up the Louisiana second line rhythms. People were really dancing and bopping on the floor. The front of the stage was jammed.

The slow blues "Saint Gabriel" about the murder of a husband, prison, and its issues produced a huge slow solo by Pat that brought me near tears. Damn, it was powerful!

The later part of the show was hot dance tunes as the band wound up the crowd. "Dance With Me" had the ladies screaming, and it was clear that "Louella" was a no good woman. A 'second line' song "Sing it one more time" and "Down The Road" and "If you don't think I'm leaving, you can) Count the Days I'm Gone" ("one, two, three, four…") led into a majestic "Louisiana 1927 (Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline)." With Katrina and Rita I guess we know about floods now.

Marcia whistled a line and the band went into that fine old hokum song "Let Me Play With Your Poodle." Heh, 'I mean your little poodle dog'. The crowd was really alive now and they were totally ready for the loud calls for encores. The finale was "Land of Dreams", "Lah, Lah dee Dah", "Sing, Sing, Sing", and a little rockin' something about keeping certain things crossed so they won't …

Long Tall Marcia w/ Mr. B.

I really like Marcia's recordings, but there's just no question that the live shows from this talent rich band are just total knockouts. I just keep going to the Marcia shows like I was drawn to the flame. What a hell of a band! I left satisfied

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 11:41 AM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2006

Michael Burks at Biscuits & Blues 1/11/06

Wearing an Arkansas Razorbacks athletic jersey and carpenter jeans Michael Burks climbed on stage, strapped on a red metallic Flying V guitar, checked the tuning, looked at the band, and got to work. Razor sharp guitar was his job. There's no talking, just singing and playing. Leaving the intro work to Hammond organist Wayne Sharp he proceeded to put that guitar ice pick into the guitar lobe of my brain. Lick after lick whacked me.

It isn't showy; it's licks, it's guitar playing. It's Michael channeling the blues. I gave up taking notes right away. I can't be bothered any more when the blues really catches me, when its blues of the first rank. Burning hard with cutting lines and phrases, it's guitar blues from the Kings reinterpreted through Michael. His singing is every bit as powerful and never over-done or weak.

The band goes with the boss, they know. The organ plays figures and expertly comps under Michael while the rhythm section plays strongly. Drummer Chuck "Popcorn" Lowden accents very strongly while bassist John Davie lays a thick underlayer.

Michael plays blues from a lot of places as well as his own CDs. I entered the show not knowing what to expect, nor knowing his CDs. I ordered both CDs after the show. "Reconsider Baby" was a surprise as "Mean Old Lady", both showing knowledge of the originals while not being copies. Both were made into Michael Burk tunes. Michael's handling of slow songs deeply impressed me. Authority and lack of hurry were in every note.

When Michael played rock type songs like blues, not blues-rock. There's no hyphen in what he plays. His rock influences are right there for anyone to see; he's a guitar player so he tried out Hendrix and such long ago. In his hands it's the stuff which the blues is made of and not a million fast notes. He's "aggressively unflashy". He plays hard for two-hour sets. It never lets up. Singing, burning, cutting through with the voice and the guitar.


I've checked his schedule, he's not coming back for a long time. I'll be there the next time.

"Don't Let This Be A Dream"
(Michael Burks, eyeball music)

"It's only been a short time ago,
I thought my life was over,
I seemed like no matter which way I turned,
The weight of the world was on my shoulders.

Then I met you
Seem like a dream came true
Please don't let this be a dream

I had my share of ups and downs,
Tried everything to get my feet on solid ground,
It's been a long, long bumpy road,
There's always a bridge to cross over.

Then I met you
Seem like a dream came true
Please don't let this be a dream
Please, oh Baby,
Please don't let this be a dream

It's not the story of a broken hearted man,
It's the life of a broken hearted fool,
It was so hard to express the pain inside,
When that's all I had to make me feel alive.

Then I met you
Seem like a dream came true
Please don't let this be a dream
Please, oh Baby,
Please don't let this be a dream."

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 09:11 PM | Comments (2)

January 20, 2006

A wild New Year's with floods, blues, and Daniel, Levi, lots of Volker

It was one fine New Year's set of shows on the calendar. With New Year's Eve on Saturday night, there promised to be a great three-day bonanza of blues shows, plus Ron Martin's Birthday Party at the Tradewinds the following Tuesday night.

The Long Blues Weekend started with a bang with Daniel Castro at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa. I'd been looking forward to this show. I hadn't seen Daniel Castro for a while and I'm a fan of his. Thursday Night the 29th was clear after two days of heavy weather. The Last Day Saloon advertised a crab feed before the show and I was primed for some fresh Dungeness. Crab fresh off the boat. That same night at 8:00pm the Volker Strifler Band was going to be playing over radio Station KRSH. It looked like if I got there early I'd be able to have Crab, Volker, and a fine night of Daniel.

Literally the first sign of the way the weekend was going was the sign on the door at the Last Day Saloon: "No Crab Feed, the boats can't get out." The heavy weather had kept the crab in the ocean. I dithered about what to do and decided to eat anyway since they had a special on salmon. Talking with the smiling waitress, I ordered rice with my salmon and the minestrone soup. The waitress returned after a while with my soup. And then she disappeared. In some minutes my plate appeared on the kitchen hatch counter, and sat there. After many minutes my waitress noticed it and brought it. It had mashed potatoes instead of rice, but before I could say anything the waitress made off like an Olympic sprinter.

All this consumed a lot of time and I was now missing Volker's radio show. Members of the Daniel Castro Band were still in the restaurant area after having done a sound check. It was evident that they weren't going to be starting on the dot of eight. People were still coming in the door. Many regulars and familiar faces arrived over the next twenty minutes.

The show was a powerhouse one with a choice audience. Daniel playing a new hand made telecaster began ripping it early. Unlike many shows where the D. C. band play dance tune after dance tune for a house of rocking patrons, at this show Daniel knew that he and Mike Emerson had room for soloing and mid and slow tempos for an audience that was into the music.

The solos built and built. The rhythm section really went to town. Daniel's new bassist is a marvel of modern style bass playing, frequently being almost as much of a rhythm guitarist as bassist. The groove was really there that night. "Crosscut Saw" was really aired out and made into a major platform for some of Daniel's finest guitar work.

In the door at the side of the stage appeared Volker Strifler and Don Bassey with their gig bags. Volker and Daniel exchanged chin nods and Daniel's body language said, "next set?"

That next set with Volker added on guitar was phenomenal, with both guitarists having a ton of fun exchanging licks. Volker showed his rhythm guitar shops very well and supported Daniel for a couple of songs. After that the eyes of the rhythm section began to shine and Daniel, Volker, and Mike fired out with solos that reached for new ground.

Slow Blues and big rhythm mid-tempo blues were packed with wonderful musical moments. The house stayed 'til late on a weeknight, the music was stupendous. Such wonderful dancing! Daniel at the big hall is a treat.

***************

The rain picked up next day and by nightfall it was going strong with fresh wind and sheets of big drops. The storm was warm out of the southwest and it was clear the "Pineapple Express" had arrived full of water. I'd told Volker and Don I'd be at their gig at DG's in Napa. DG's is a favorite place to watch music, the sound system is good and the place is comfortable. I debated with myself whether to brave the weather.

"I'm goin' down to Louisiana, I'm gonna get me a Mojo hand!" sang Lightnin' and I laughed. I've been too staid and careful. Time to remember the voodoo chile inside and off I went through the storm. "I'm standing next to a mountain, I chop it down with the edge of my hand. 'Cause I'm a Voodoo Chile…."

The bottoms and creeks were full, but I had an easy drive to Napa. The rain became fierce as I neared Napa. Inside DG's the rain was so strong you could hear it on the roof. I learned that Volker had tried to cross the Sonoma bottoms on Highway 121 and had been stopped by a flood and had to come around on Napa Road through the town of Sonoma. Checking the Napa River, I found it to be totally full and rising as the rain came down in sheets.

Volker Strifler on guitar, Don Bassey on bass, Gary Silva on drums, Carl Bowers on trombone, David Schrader on Saxophone, and Chip Roland on keyboards, put on one of their finest shows to a pretty good house of people who'd braved the rain. Volker was his humble self on introductions, almost apologizing for his original songs and guitar playing.

Somebody Help Me (Hanging Tough)

"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."
(Volker Strifler)


It truly was a fine night of the blues and Volker's stratospheric lead guitar soloing. David Schrader had one of his best nights soloing on tenor saxophone. I had a feast of advanced blues work.

Part of the fascination of the Volker Strifler Band is that Volker writes the material. They have almost three hours of Volker's originals, and some original arrangements of cover material, plus Don Bassey's songs. And Volker is constantly re-writing the parts to his songs, including the horn parts. Almost every time I hear Volker he's changed at least one of his songs all around. This night there were two or three with whole new arrangements.

Volker's original slide guitar tune "In Your Arms (angels can't be wrong)" had been completely turned around and was now darker and more melancholy.

"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 it’s in your arms
'Cause angels can't be wrong"

And then there's Volker's reworking of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful". When he brought this one out last summer it was with a sideways substitution chord structure played by the band behind him as he played a crazy "diminished scale" lead part. This night the re-do of the song produced a more traditional blues slide sound on top of a wilder chord structure. The audience got up and danced for this one.

All in all it was one of the most charged performances I've seen this band do. All the while the storm gained in intensity and the sound of it pounding on the roof became more audible. It was one of the most electric evenings I've spent with the blues.

The drive home was truly exciting. The water was coming down in sheets and the low spots in the Carneros district were beginning to flood. As I approached Broadway, the main street of Sonoma, Napa Road began to flood and I had to veer into the opposite lane to get through. Broadway itself was becoming a creek and I negotiated it with care while blessing all wheel drive. I was al right once I got to the Square in Sonoma. From then on it was a matter of reducing speed in the full downpour and taking the detour on to Arnold Drive. Funny how the ancient roads don't flood in the low spots like the newer highways do.

*************

The Black-eyed Peas and Ham hocks were nicely cooked and ready to eat. I was gonna stay in on New Year's Eve. I'm not all that thrilled by amateur drunk drivers. I had a bowl while looking out at the rain still coming down. A clear space in the morning had let the flooding recede locally but the news from Napa and the Russian River wasn't good, lots of flooding. Checking the rain map it was clear that the lowlands facing San Pablo Bay had been hit with a "Hundred Year Storm."

Then the phone call came. "It's me, Levi. They've closed Highway 101 in several places up north and my drummer Steve is stuck in Willits. My amp is in his van. Can I borrow yours for the Zebulon's gig tonight?" What are you gonna do? So off through the rain I went with my old rebuilt amp wondering what the highway was going to be like. Part of the embankment had fallen away on the Petaluma Grade and Highway 101 was down to a single lane in that one spot with unconscious drivers trying to go fast downhill on a slick pavement.

Zebulon's was looking half full well before the band started. Tommy Castro's Bus was parked up the street behind the Mystic Theatre and lots of people in New Year's clothes were walking around the streets of Petaluma. Delivering the amp, I found three people on cell phones trying to promote a drummer for Levi's band. I asked Levi about the drummer situation; he shrugged. "We'll just do the best we can until we have a drummer."

Levi and the 501 Band started off the show with a set of folk blues and related songs.

" Betcha goin' fishin' all of the time, baby's goin' fishing too
Bet your life, your sweet wife, catch more fish than you
Many fish bites if ya got good bait
Here's a little tip I would like to relate

Big fish bites if ya got good bait
I 'a goin' fishin'
Yes, I'm goin' fishin'
And my baby's goin' fishin' too

I went down to my favorite fishin' hole
Baby grabbed me a pole and line
Throw my pole on in
Caught a nine pound catfish
now I brought him on home for suppertime

Many fish bites if ya got a good bait
I'ma goin' fishin'
Yes, I'm goin' fishin'
And my baby's goin' fishin' too"
("Fishin' Blues" by Henry Thomas)

More people began to show up as the band got into the swing of playing drummer-less. Sweet Louie on bass concentrated mightily on maintaining the rhythm groove for the band and holding the whole thing together with the guitar players. The smaller living room aspect of Zebulon's really helped; the intimacy made the bands numbers personal at low volume.

About Eleven o'clock the drummer from the Soul Surgeons arrived and put together his drum kit out on the sidewalk. Managing to get his drums and cymbals inside on the small stage required him to wall himself in and be handed the last few pieces. He made an immediate difference and the tempo of the evening picked up. Doing their driving show tunes the joint, which had been partying at a good clip, went into overdrive. There sure are some fine women at Zebulon's. It was a rewarding sight. They looked good in streamers.

I was standin' at the station,
Ten to midnight in the rain
I was mindin' my own bus'ness,
Waiting for that midnight train

Nobody in sight, starin' at my shoes,
I took out my paper to find me some good news
Mindin' my own bus'ness,
When the ticket man calls my name
Yeah, yeah, babe

There ain't no midnight train
There ain't no midnight train
There ain't no midnight train
Comin' down the line

As midnight came on people were dancing a lot and the whole place was having a ball. Jay broke out the Champaign and cake and Levi did the traditional countdown, "I have no idea if the time is correct and here we go! Ten, Nine,…." Laughing we counted with him, and then it was 2006, whatever the Naval Observatory might say.

*************

Ron Martin's Birthday Party with Volker Strifler Band

Ron Martin always sets up his early January Birthday Party at the Tradewinds on a weeknight and pays for the band. He cooks the dinner that night too. Polenta/Beef Stew this time and dammed good too. This year he hired the Volker Strifler Band to play for the show, Ron always hires a good band.

It had been hoped that the band could start early, but Nick next door at Nicolino's Restaurant had late diners, so the show didn't go off until 9:00. When it did there were surprises. David Schrader was unable to do the gig and Glenn Sullivan took his place on trumpet, an all-brass horn section that gave a different sound to the horn parts.

It was Terri's Birthday and we all saluted her. We haven't seen much of her lately as she's been working on a mural commission down in Alameda County. It was good to see her, all spunky, flashy and looking good.

Volker's song bag was most interesting, it seemed a flashback to a year or more ago. Maybe it was the knotty pine walls of the 'Winds, but it seemed that it was Volker in his roadhouse blues mood, driving the joint.

"Might be superstition but there's something in my home,
Might be superstition but there's something in my home,
I've got the feeling -there's something going on."
(V. Strifler)

Voodoo sounds with Gary Silva pounding out a very scary drum part. One of the good things about Volker's material is how it brings out less common rhythm figures and choices by the musicians. Chip Roland had a fine night doing comping and soloing that was both on point with the songs and unique sounding.

"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)

Several times during the evening Volker went to "that Place" where he solos like a bird in flight. Closing his eyes he just goes some place else. It's what I go to hear Volker for. What a melodic gift!

Eventually, the night caught up with the band. They'd been working their day jobs, doing family stuff, and played three or four nights out of five. About midnight they suddenly were out of gas and told us so. It was one fine night of great playing. Thanks Ron.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2006

The Bling, Bling Era of Music

By Eldridge "Big Cat" Tolefree

Back in the day everything about African American culture and it’s history was presented to the world in a somewhat different vision compared to what’s seen on most television networks and magazine covers today. Not long ago people of color in the entertainment industry had limited opportunities including basic civil rights to freely co-exist in America or make a descent living performing in major cities like New York, Chicago and even Hollywood. These days on the surface things appear to be a little different in the entertainment industry on many levels, so it seems. It’s nothing new in this so called bling, bling era of music to see a modern day blues singer pulling up to an old run-down little bar in the middle of nowhere in a shinny new Lexus or Cadillac with all ! the trimmings. What’s that all about?

The bling, bling era has definitely had a negative effect on the substance over shine mentality in the music and film markets. Who would ever have thought owning a low quality diamond chain or watch would be more important than actually creating good music or movies for people? The entertainment game has definitely changed for the better, or is it? Is it really better to own two carat earrings with your money or the deed to your own home? I’m a bit confused, because I love diamonds and stuff too, but is it necessary to shine every time I go to the store, or should I only bling when I go to the club?

I'm not sure if the so called bling, bling era can be blamed for this, but is it me or does it seem like besides the regular annual award shows, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find local networks that regular! ly air live music concerts anymore? Sometimes I feel forced to watch public television in hopes I may get lucky enough to catch a do-whop show or an old school rock and roll telethon special. The universe must be in some weird form of reverse cycle or something, like when we see young people wearing their pajama bottoms to the mall or marketplace in the middle of the day. What’s up with that?

Perhaps things are a changing. Just the other day I saw a great new music video on television and all the girls wore clothes and the dudes didn’t wear any watches or chains larger than their belt buckles. Maybe things aren’t as bad as it seems after all, or perhaps one should wear sun glasses to block the glare of the bling, bling to find the truth behind mediocrity in today’s music. Besides I always thought diamonds were a girls best friend anyway, and men were just suppose to make the payments. Like my daddy use to say, "it’s only worth ! something if someone buys it".

I was only a young lad when Dr. King captivated the world with his famous I Have A Dream speech. It just seemed to me like the world was in a weird spiritual transition then, similar to the way many things are evolving today. From the economy to the entertainment industry, many aspects of modern day life appear to be in some sort of transitional faze worldwide.

In the words of Dr. King, we’re free at last free at last, but are we really? For decades there have been hundreds of spectacular accomplishments, advancements and discoveries made by men and women all over the globe. But there is still lots of work to be done including really trying to save the environment, increasing global humanitarian efforts and putting real music back in the forefronts of society. These few things are small but vital to the survival and nurturing process for our children’s future.

Now Big Cat loves the kids too, but it’s time for grown folks to take back the music from the pirates and ungrateful ones who dare to cut, paste and loop the classic hits. Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Duke Ellington including The Count deserve to be preserved in their original forms, and respected for their contributions to the art of timeless music. I often talk with my son about sampling, he thinks the stuff he hears on the radio was created by his favorite rapper. Then I break out the plastic seventy eight or forty five with the same sampled hooks or melody on them. That’s right, Score one for Dad zero for Son. I guess sampling Ray Charles was the last straw.

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Let’s forget about this bling, bling era thing for a moment and take the entire month of January to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision of universal equality and peace between one another! . Spend some time with family, friends, including your neighbors. Right now more than ever communication and tolerance will be major factor in restoring faith and trust between cultures. I believe music is so important in public schools and colleges to help bridge the gap. Please donate your old music instruments if you can.

Be adventurous this year and patronize one of your local neighborhood restaurants or nearby watering holes. I’m not encouraging drinking nor am I endorsing excessive eating habits, but the Bay Area is notorious for the great food, wine, deserts and of course the nightlife. You live here so enjoy the magnificent variety of people and spectacular surroundings the Bay Area has to offer. Be thankful your not in Greenland or someplace like that.

California is a wonderful place to live and work for a living. Got a great spot to dine out or get your party on? Ema! il me and let me know where to go in your community for a great night out, that goes for the folks in Greenland too. No DJ stuff, just places with live bands playing real instruments. I support new cutting edge music and independent bands that carve new paths in the music biz and you should as well. Then and only then, together we can crush this thing called the bling, bling era one neighborhood at a time, one diamond mine at a time, one show at a time. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to all the children in the world out there living in darkness.

It is your duty to help the planet rise above the entertainment industry mediocrity that’s being distributed worldwide. The world needs you, so go, but put your jacket on first after all it is winter, and enjoy the wild, wild West Coast’s extraordinary trend-setting hang outs and fabulous restaurants. Enjoy, It shouldn’t cost much to have a good time, but now let’s keep it real this is California, so bring enough cash to avoid washing the dishes when your done eating.
There are tons of great places around the bay that don’t require bling, bling to get in. Make it a point to get out and feel the pulse of our many different Bay Area lifestyles and neighborhoods. We often times over look the things that appear simple in nature in search of answers to the more difficult questions. Music therapy is simple and can cure what ales you, no pun intended. Give peace a chance.

Before I forget, I know it’s kind of tough on everybody these days but if you’re able please lend your support, donate or volunteer to your local charities this year. If not financially, please look in your cabinets, closets or garage for stuff you know you will never use, or caned goods you and the kids won’t eat, and donate them to local food banks or Red Cross agencies in your community.!

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

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)