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December 17, 2006

The Sorentinos Christmas Bash! (12/06)

Went out again lastnight just down the road to our little ol' Tradewinds.
I was going to do some Sonoma County Blues bouncing being that there were a few shows I wanted to see- but I just settled for something real close to home and a band I haven't seen in awhile- The Sorentinos!
I'm sorry...the Sorentinos is not "settling". I didn't mean it that way...you know what I mean, right?

Danny is one of the best songwriters...period!
I love singing along to the familiar old ones and it's even more fun when he throws out a new one. And believe me...he's always throwing out new ones. The guy just comes up with all these satirical real life stories that have you relating, laughing and really pondering things.
He's a songwriting genius.
The new songs are really cool because it's a new story. Sure, I enjoy covers of old worn out songs but with him...it's like being tucked into bed at night as kid and being read to.
Although I do have to admit that I remember my kids loved the same book over & over, (I mean what parent doesn't have "Hop on Pop" burned into their memory) and maybe because it was familiar and predictable, but they also enjoyed a new adventure in a new story.
That's how I feel about his shows. I go to listen to what he's saying and I feel like really sinking into some great short stories. Almost like curling up with a book or something.
Alright, I've gone on enough about that. I'm not a very articulate person so it makes it hard for me to try and describe things sometimes.

His band.....Awesome!!
Rob Ruiz on bass. Kenny Susan on drums and the very important back up vocals he does. Howard Vatcher on guitar!!! Danny Sorentino on guitar, harmonica, and the very important lead vocals.
That Howard is amazing. He rips on that guitar. The guy really rocks!!

They are mostly rock, Americana style ballads, folk, I don't know whatever... but when really go into the blues it's great! We heard a new song of his called "British Blues" and it was great and it ended with a fine guitar solo from Danny himself.
When they cover "King Bee" and those vocals of his that have a real nice drawl to it, it's the best I've heard that song.
There's a few more really bluesy songs in there but his real originals is what I wait for.

Fun crowd and saw lots of familiar blues lovers faces. Goes to show ya....The Sorentinos will make many "cross over". They are well diversified.

Heard a few from their new CD, including "Black leather jacket" which was "ooooh so gooood.....
and you look so good and your Black leather Jacket"
What a fun song that was.

"British Blues" was great with some great lyrics and real fine British blues guitar solos from Howard and Danny on that one.

The older songs of "Summer of Love", Daddy Nicotine" and "Can't find my gun" were a blast from the past.
There were many.....
Another great night at the ol' Tradewinds.

I never made it across the street to Spancky's to check out Counter Balance. I used to go over there and "bang my head" to them a few years back. They are a real good local heavy rock band with some good originals to boot.
I was a bit curious to how they're soundin' these days but I never made it.
Aaaah well....next time. I stayed for two sets and bailed. I thought I had lots of stuff to do but it still ain't done.
I did pick up a couple of blues Cds yesterday while in Backdoor picking up the latest from Audio Slave for my kid in Iraq. They're really good rock band and this latest is tasty but I'll send anyway. I think he'll love it.
But while in their, naturally I was being pulled to the Blues section. I convinced myself I deserved this gift to myself and picked out Ronnie Earl's 'best of' and Robben Ford's Blueline. I had heard that Robben playing on the house music at a Daniel Castro show and was hooked -I had to inquire on it from the soundguy.
So, I'm gonna crank those, and this new Sorentinos Cd I got lastnight called 'Way Out' and record some stuff for work and then maybe I'll start up on those chores.

The Sorentinos is one great band. I urge all of you, no matter what music you think you like, to check them out. A class act. Why.... even the song "Santa's Sex Slave" was done with finesse.

Thank You Tradewinds for having them.
Thank You Sorentinos for a great night of music.
Thank You to all the fun dancers and those who get out to support live music.
I laid low for far too long and saw a couple clubs come and go while I was sittin' at home and for that I am sorry. No longer will I sit at home and I'm ready to get back out there. It's just great to know the music will carry on no matter what.
Can't imagine a world without it!

Thanks for lettin' me ramble....

Posted by Mo at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

Nick Gravenites at Negri's! (12/06)

I was sittin', watching TV this last Friday night with my Honey and I was gettin' anxious. I'm not a big TV person and I rather be doing something else...Anything...just not that!
I threw out some suggestions as to what we could do but no interest from him.
He was soon sawin' logs in his "chair" and I was feeling alone and bored.
I decided that I rather be with people who were awake and wanted to be with me so I called a couple of blues buds and at the last minute I was in on their Friday night blues fun.
Thanks for having me gang.

We soon were headed to the west county to Occidental for some Nick Gravenites at Negri's.
It had been years since I was there when he played but I do remember it being loads of fun. I remember the place was packed and it blew me away because this place is almost in the middle of no where in our temperate rain forest of redwoods here in Sonoma County. It was as though they literally just came out of the woodwork!!

We got there and they were already at it. Walked in and it felt warm. Immediately settled in on the dance floor along with a few others.
The band was sounding great. Saw a couple of local jewels on stage with Nick and one was Steve Barbieri on guitar. Please forgive me for not remembering the guest keyboardist. I've seen him everywhere but still....not a clue.
Really, REALLY good though!
Steve was awesome up there too.
A violinist came in, plugged in and played some great stuff that fit right in with the blues. One might think, "A violin and Blues??"
But it worked fine.
He was very good and again....sorry about the name but you might know of him when I tell you he played(s) with "It's A Beautiful Day" and is a music conductor.

Nick is just so comfortable to be around. I mean his style of playing. It's just so laidback and
in-the-pocket down-home Chicago blues. Singing, presence, and guitar.
I grew a true appreciation for Nick for the first time not so long ago. He was with Mark Hummel at the Last Day Saloon. I'm not sure what took me so long, and I am sorry it did, but I finally figured it out. He is the real deal.

During break, everyone was outside smokin' & jokin', makin' small talk when he came out and joined in. I was just standing there, watching him and listening to him and I swear...I wanted to go up and grab him by the shoulders and shake him and tell him to ...."Tell me a story!"
Man...I bet he's got many!
It was a real honor to be standing there with him at that moment.
Here we are standing in a small town out in the middle of no where with a true living legend before us! I was in awe at that moment. I love those moments. After all...I'm just a humble blues fan ;-)

The music awesome, the dance floor and the room filled with real music appreciators and lots of warm people that love to dance.
Very friendly crowd. I felt at home there and to be honest....I wouldn't mind moving to Occidental area eventually and retiring there. It's beautiful country in my favorite forset but the people are what sold me on the area.

Thanks Nick Gravenites for a really nice evening of down-home blues. You and your crew were awesome and you can bet I'll be there on any old friday night more often.
Thank You Negri's for the warm venue to crawl into on a chilly night.
Oh.... and Thank You, Rolf for driving. I got to drink a couple of beers since I didn't drive and it felt really good to unwind a bit.
And hey....I didn't even get sick from the those windy roads on the way back!


Posted by Mo at 01:36 PM | Comments (1)

Volker Strifler Band Delivers.....(11/06)

WOW!! What a great night!!
Volker and band really laid it on us at the old Club Tac in Crockett.

Fun night with lots of great dancers to share the floor with. Very
appreciative noise makers too!

I am so amazed at the talent in this band. Each and every one of
them are true professionals.
It is just fun to watch them up there each doing their own thing and
how it all comes together to form these complicated arrangements.
Volker is an amazing songwriter. We ain't talkin' your average 12
bar blues here.

My only complaint, which I kept to myself til now, is that the
guitar was not loud enough. Everything except the bass was drowning
him out. And I was standing in front of his amp!

One other thing that concerned me is that Volker wasn't steppin' out
on that guitar. His solos were short but I must admit - sweet.
I was waiting and waiting for him to cut loose and really draw out
that guitar playing that he does so well. He was very generous to
the other players and it was well deserved, but you know me....I
want to hear that gitar!!
Well, the third and final set was mostly his. Well worth the wait
because he really let his guitar playing shine.

David Schrader was not there on sax but instead we had Al Garth to
take his place. This guy is most awesome. He and Volker on guitar
did some call and response type stuff on one song that had us
yelling for more. Al had the crowd going on many of his solos. What
a sax player!!

I finally caught onto Don Bassey's playing and it finally hit at
what a great bass player he really is. I mean I knew he could play
but it never dawned on at what a incricate player he is. Some real
fine bass leads.
I turned to Rolf and Anne and said, "You know....I think Don's great
looks are a distraction to what a great player he really is".

Gary Silva on drums had me laughing and trying to keep up at the
quick step but he is just to quick for me.
One of the best drummers around, no doubt.

At first break I snagged his new CD "The Dance Goes On" and high-
tailed it up to the van to put it away but instead gave it a quick
listen. I just couldn't wait. I skimmed through the songs by-passing
the familiar ones til I got to number four and I was in awe. "On A
Day Like Today' had me mesmerized. What a beautiful song!! I never
heard it Live at any of the shows.
I headed back down and told Volker about it and he played it first
thing on the second set. It was wonderful.

We all had our copies of the new CD in hand and headed home with
aching feet and growling tummies. We listened to the whole thing
almost in complete silence except for an occasional reflection on
the night that we shared with one another.
The Cd is superb. A real piece of art. The whole thing- not a bad
song on it.
I was very surprised at how many songs are really new to me because
I haven't heard them do them Live. I love new stuff and Volker has
much of it.
Just amazing.
Usually, when a new CD comes out from a local player who's shows you
attend often, you already know all the songs because they do them at
their shows.... but not the case here. They must rehearse ALOT!

I was told that I better stop for food on the way home or a certain
someone was gonna tear someones leg off she was so hungry. To be
honest...I was too. We stopped at Jack-in-the-Box on Tennesee St,
grabbed a sack of junk food and coffee's and headed back towards the
freeway. I missed our entrance, tried to redirect myself while
piggin' out on a Jumbo jack and I did sort of a illegal u-turn and a
cop pulled up behind me. I pulled to a stop he said, "You guys
alright? you're drivin' kind of crazy back there". He saw the
munchies in hand and I told him I was tryin' to find the freeway and
he pointed us in the right direction. What a nice guy, Vallejo's
finest indeed. I asked the gang if it was illegal to eat and drive
and they said, Not yet.

What a great night of dancin, singin',listenin', munchin' and just
hangin' with my blues buds.

Volker Strifler band will be at Monroe Hall in Santa Rosa on Dec.
2nd and I urge all of you to attend and pick up a CD. A must for
every blues collection.


Posted by Mo at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Once Upon A Time..... (12/06)

....about 2-3 Sundays ago, two of us headed over the mountain and east on I-80 to Sacramento for the Horseman's Club Blues fest thingy for some blues and I just don't mean any ol' blues show......

I know, I know....it's old news by now but it's still fresh in my heart and mind so I'm gonna share a bit about what I saw and felt.

We had somewhat of a roadtrip crew together for this show but it ended up being just Dee and I after a few decided it would be crazy on the roads due to holiday traffic heading home and the season's first big storm was suppose to camp out over us. Well....none of those fear factors materialized. No traffic for us and hardly any rain!!
We made it home in an hour and a half and I even got some decent sleep before my 4am wake up call for work.

We got there just before downbeat and the place was packed!
Standing room only and we made our way up front to say Hi to Lucretia and other blues buds and she had saved us seats!
She is such a sweetie.
I was in heaven. She sat me down right smack in front Chris Cain's amp!!
I have to say that with each time I see Cain -LIVE- I have a bigger appreciation of his playing.
Yes, he is fast and plays a million notes a minute but it's clean!
Clear, precise, and grounded in the blues, he doesn't go too far out there.

His Cds are alright but to see and hear him live is a must!!
I say 'see' because some of the fun is watching him really put himself into his playing. There's a few players that literally express their playing thru their bodies and he's one of them. Mostly his head. He just bounces that thing around up & down, back & forth, all around, and it's all in sync with his playing.
I liked it when his hair was longer a few years back and his curls just bounced all over the place.
But his real talent is in his playing and singing. Amazing guitarist and I will not wait so long to go see him again.

Up next was Joe Louis Walker!!
I was really anxious to hear him again.
Just saw him at the the Mystic a couple months back and it was so great to hear he's back!!
Since his return from living in Paris, the old Joe is back.
His playing was the old Joe from years ago when I first saw him and he ripped!
I must say, and I've probably said it before, but right before he left, his playing was not so great. I'm not sure what was going on but to put it bluntly, I wasn't going to see him no more because it just wasn't what it used to be. But now he's back.

The guy to me is one of the best up there belting out those gospel drenched vocals and steppin' up on that guitar playing and making it JOE'S show.
A real blues veteran professional feel to his shows with those long but not drawn out guitar solos that build up and get more intense with each go around that have you crawlin' on the floor begging for more and begging him stop at the same time because you just can't take no more!

He introduced a song he wrote about a "New Direction" he said he found while living in Paris until he came back here and found his "old direction".
I just hope it's a good "old direction" because I really like this new direction he's a headin'.
Yep, Joe Louis Walker is back and it's great to see.
For purely selfish reasons of course ;-)

Up next was Magic Slim and the Teardrops!!
Here he comes....this big black bear of a man, walking up on stage, it was so great to see him again!!
His presence was huge and he wreaked of bluesman.
He's got a real deal feel to him and for good reason- he is the real deal!

They played forever, took a break and played some more.
Slim's singing was the best. He's still got that signature growl he throws in every so often. "And you know dats right....."
Seems like he's gettin tired in the hands but it's still there in his guitar.
It's just great to see him and I look forward to seeing him again.
I picked up a Cd of his, "Black Tornado".

You know you can't go wrong with any of Slim's cds. He has many and all of them I've ever heard are consistantly good. All of them have that Magic Slim drive to them. I have several already and I can't think of a song on one of them that I don't care for. So I had a few extra bucks to support the band got one. I don't have Black Tornado yet but I ended up giving it to Dee. She mentioned she didn't have any of Slim's cds yet and I know things are real tight for her. As a matter of fact....I think that was her first time ever seeing him. She loved the show!!
She had to have him sign it so after the show we waited at the bar for him to return with a sharpie so he could. He finally made it back, sat in the chair, Big Mike placed a bottle and a glass at his table, he settled and the downhome feel of this man really started. Talked a bit and then he signed his name and Dee was taking it back and he said, "wait a minute...wait a minute" and commenced to writing something else.

In careful writing, nice and slow, with a slight shake to it, he spelled out.... L -O-V-E... in big capital letters just like that there.
It was a heart melting moment and we hugged him goodbye. As we were walking out, his final words to us were, in his signature growl of course...."you know dats right, baby" and we headed back to the van.

Posted by Mo at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Michael Barclay Blows My Blues Away! (12/06)

I headed down the road to the Tradewinds lastnight for some long due Michael Barclay Blues Band.
I'm not sure why I haven't been to one of their shows in recent months but I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna miss any more.
I've been staying home most weekends regrouping so to speak, and I had forgotten just how damn good this band is.

I was settling in on the warm up opener and it didn't take long to get back into that groove. They made it so easy and it all felt right from the beginning. I was in my comfort zone.

It was great to see the band, the familiar faces of the crowd, and to hear that guitar of Michael's that had my knees like jello. I was short of crawling to him on the floor begging him to stop because I just couldn't take no more!
I was willing to sell my soul, sacrifice something living, even myself, if he would just stop- it was that euphoric. I felt like reaching in my chest and pulling out my still beating heart and handing it to him, it was that intense.
I wanted to kneel before him and pray, even though I'm not a big believer, he was making one outta me lastnight.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and if I didn't let out a holler, scream, or whistle, jump in the air, I was gonna burst!!

I'm not sure why blues guitar, I mean good blues guitar, gets to me this way. it's like it gets inside and touches something very vulnerable inside of me. I've tried to analyze it and I just can't seem to pinpoint the reason for my obsession with it.

And Michael....he'll just take it slow and build it up higher and higher, never faltering until it reaches the very top to where one can go no further.

The band follows behind him and helps the build up, higher and higher till I was literally almost floored.
A guitar player can build up and up but without a band such as this crew to build the foundation for the songs euphoric conclusion , it don't mean much.
What an awesome band!!
Rick, Kent, Jane, Joel, Banana, Roger....Thank You!

I feel mellow today thanks to lastnight. It's amazing how therapeutic live blues is for me. Not a trace of anxiety today and it feels good to just be calm, quiet and serene. Except for the Jimmy Dawkins I've got going in the background, it's quiet in my head and I have Michael Barclay and his Blues Band to Thank for that!

I don't know what else to say except Thank You Tony for having these guys every month at your establishment and I'll see you next month for some more of.....
The King of Sonoma County Blues!!


Posted by Mo at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)