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August 31, 2007

Johnny Rawls at Healdsburg Town Plaza Concert 8/28/07

A California summer evening as perfect as it gets ruffled the hair on my arm in the window as I drove north on Hwy 101. Cruising into downtown Healdsburg I saw that the place was packed and I had the sense to park in the municipal lot a block away from the Square. It was truly packed in the Town Plaza and the lawn chairs were packed in. Picnics were in full sway and folding tables groaned under the weight of food and wine bottles. Healdsburg is a premier wine town and people were drinking wine, a lot of wine. I made a note to be just like them next year and have a picnic party all set up. They sure looked like they were having fun.

Around the outside of the Plaza the Farmer’s Market Booths were still set up though the some were already coming down; they had an hour left. The big new gazebo on the east side of the Plaza is a real winner; it’s big enough for all kinds of musical events. Little kids were having a good time running all around and women young and old had on their summer clothes.

In the Gazebo Johnny Rawls and his band of Mike Rippee on drums, Donny Mederos on bass, and Jerome Engleberts on second guitar were just about ready to go. Waves with the band and Donny’s peppy and lovely manager Lynn were all I could manage. The band was ready to go and went into a good opening shuffle. Right away I could see that the sound was going to be fine, with only a touch too much treble in the bass drum mic. Right out of the box Johnny was sounding good and ready for the show.

Over the course of the show Johnny would do a lot of guitar playing. I’ve seen Johnny a number of times now and he has several different types of shows that he can do. In this large crowd with the sun still shining Johnny did the guitar-playing blues man straight up and did a whole lot of his “Mississippi songs” about growing up in Mississippi and being a country boy. Songs like “My Time To Win” came in early. Song selection was pitched to a mostly middle class Plaza audience that wasn’t up and dancing with the first song. The hardcore blues fans were up and dancing right away, and within a few songs a lot of ladies were bouncing in their seats. Slowly the crowd dancing in front of the stage grew and then some psychological point was reached and the flood gates burst and the place was crammed with dancers and a whole second line of dancers formed in the walkway behind the front section of grass seating.

Johnny was really playing a lot of fine guitar and the band was like a perfectly timed and tuned automobile and right with him. Johnny would give the band those classic signals and the band would lower the volume or hold the groove in perfect synchronization. The sunlight was just right and Johnny was in great voice, and the redwoods and palm trees moved in the late afternoon breeze and the dancers began to sway.

“I’m A Country Boy (and I like my love good and strong)” was a long exercise in both guitar playing and in Johnny doing his talking over the song. “See Baby, I’m just a country boy and I work real hard, let me work real hard for you.” This seemed to go over real well with the ladies. On the sides the women were dancing a lot more and more of them came onto the dance area in front of the stage and it got real packed. Again and again Johnny would do guitar solos. Jerome also played a bunch of solos and showed a different complimentary style to Johnny’s stratocaster attack blues licks, more low-toned and more T-Bone Walker styled. It was a great combination of soloists in a tasty package. Sometimes Johnny put down the guitar and was a soul vocalist in front of the band. The band had ferocious groove and Johnny would just go with his great lines and singing. “You see Baby, I need a woman!”

Break was fun with people restocking their wine glasses and mingling. Lis and I were talking up at the northwest corner out of the crush when the band started up with the signature vamp of “Barefootin’!” Both of us made tracks to the front of the stage and were dancing in seconds. “Hey little girl watch what you do, if I barefoot would you barefoot too?” “Barefootin” gradually changed into a soul vamp and became two or three songs, all with fabulous groove that had everybody dancing. The band was cooking, and the place was jumping. Johnny played a bunch of great guitar and Mo was bouncing up and down. Over the last set Johnny got gradually into some of his more discreetly risqué material (“There’s kids out here”) and was making the women grin a lot. Having seen Johnny in June at the Black Cat on a late Sunday night doing the risqué for a willing audience of consenting adults he did tone it down. The ladies were still grinning at him. He had a front dance contest with a young girl in skintight clothes, a middle aged woman who sure knew how to twine, and an eighty-five year old woman who could shake that thing. The whole crowd was laughing and calling out.

Johnny seemed to feel right at home at the end and the band played a bunch of fine tunes with a ton of soul and groove. I’ve seen Johnny a bunch of times and this was one of his finest performances. An appreciative crowd really helps and this crowd was magnificent. Wine country all the way, it was there to enjoy and have fun and Johnny was there to deliver. Johnny made the miracle of the blues and showed everybody’s alike in the blues. Congratulations to Johnny and the band on one of their finest shows in Northern California. I hope you get to see Johnny during his present tour of Northern California. Don’t miss this veteran blues man and the fine band he has with him.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2007

The Aces at Russian River Brewery 8/25/07

The Aces are a very Sonoma County band, mostly because they haven’t been out of the County for years. They started as a band sometime around the year1999 or 2000 and were a big hit right off. They played the Sonoma County Blues Festival in 2000 and drove people wild.

The Aces had attitude and a different idea of how to play Blues. They were pile drivers and reduced the Blues to pounding riffs and a distorted wall of sound topped by wailing harp. They were among the first to absorb and recast the drone riff-based Hill Country Blues style then emerging. Only the Aces did even that their own way. They wrote their own songs (they do very few covers). They had their own slicked back greased hair in a wind tunnel look attached to a permanent sneer and a pushy stage presence. Those that might think of punk trance blues as something endlessly repeating a melodic line were in for a rhythmic pounding when the Aces got on stage.

Then things went bad with a serious problem with alcohol for certain members. Their shows became fewer and the shows got sloppy and disjointed. The Aces were just not really "together" for several years. Their shows became a hit or miss situation, with the early part fine and the later part a mess. Skye could really play harp lying down on the floor. Now the band drinks water, has their attitude back, and they are in command again.

The Aces start with Mike "Junk Johnson" Gutsch on drums with a unique style of simple drumming. Mike often stands up to drum (though he was sitting down at this gig) and his drums are arranged differently than other drummers. The cymbals are way low. The result with the Aces is a relentless pounding style that very much works right on the basic riff being played--and right into your skull.

David Burke is the rhythm guitarist who really plays bass for the Aces --sort of like Brewer Phillips used to do for Hound Dog Taylor. He uses a low toned Telecaster for this like Brewer did. David does a powerful job playing the basic lick of the song. It’s one of the oddities of the Aces that David who’s well known locally for his hard cider voice and his powerful lead guitar work is the mostly non-singing rhythm guitarist. When you listen closely to the Aces you realize that it’s all based on David pounding the rhythm riff right into your head.
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Derek Irving had and has that slick guitar-star-on-stage-with-a-sharp-suit persona and a passel of custom guitars. Girls smile at Derek. Derek smiles back. Derek has the stage front of the guitar hero down pat. He actually plays a lot of very old time traditional blues licks in a slick lead guitar manner. He pounds you while looking like it’s sparkle show time.

Fronting all this is six foot two Skye O’Bannion, with his out thrust jaw and slick blonde pompadour. Skye dares you not to like it. His tall massive stage presence is almost patented “chip on the shoulder” stuff. Skye writes or maybe improvises all the song lyrics. It’s hard to tell, as he more than most harp players prefers to sing a lot through his harp mic. Sometimes he’ll sing through both the harp mic and the house mic at the same time. When you do catch the words it’s a stream of consciousness about very bluesy topics like growing up poor and living out on farm roads and how bad women are and other fine stuff. Sometimes it seems to be Jack Kerouac poetry. A lot of the time he’s making lyrics you can’t understand in one fine hard ass tenor voice. You don’t even care that you can’t quite work out the words. It sounds great and it’s got a ton of blues attitude. Skye has that “I could be a loose cannon, you’ll just have to find out” look led by an Elvis-class sneer.
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They started off right away with Derek showing off some guitar licks, Skye’s amp way overloaded and distorted. Doing a slow pounder they got several of us out on the floor immediately despite the Russian River Brewery’s reputation for having lots of young guys in t-shirts that can’t dance. The next number had a rhythm pattern sort of like Roy Head’s “Treat her Right” and got more people up dancing, it was something about “One Drink of Wine, Two Drinks Of Gin” which seemed to ring a bell with a lot of the guys there.

Other highlights of the first set included Skye’s droning through his mike and playing great harp on “Loose your Mind.” “You gonna loose, no matter what you do; I’ve got to know what’s on your worried mind.” This one was almost freaky in the drawn out feel of the song against the grinding pound of the rhythm. Skye’s harp sounded like it was coming from a long way away. Seemingly, Skye was the voice on the other end of the phone, “I’ve gotta know what’s on your worried mind.”

Turning the front man chores over to David, he switched to his Stratocaster, turned up the tremolo on his amp, and did a cutting rendition of “Jealous Man (You can look at my woman but you better not touch).” David just plain has that voice with the “aarrgghh” in it, there are few around like him.

Skye announced, “Here’s one of the few cover tunes we do.” It was a Robert Lockwood Jr. number, something about “My girl Left Town.” That was followed by a mordant version of “The Drinking Song” done as incoherently as possible. Right about here Skye had me go get him another glass of water.

Skye began to do old harmonica tricks like those old photos of Sonny Boy Williamson II, with the harp half way out of his mouth and blowing a simple tune on it. Then Skye got it all the way inside his mouth and did those suck and blow noises with it that made your mother take away your harmonica. All the while the full O’Bannion thrust out jaw attitude was on display. “I dare you to laugh.” All the while the band played a slow pounding beat of slamming regularity like old Muddy Waters tunes.

One of the features of Skye O’Bannion is total stream of consciousness ramblings within a constructed blues song. Skye let go on an autobiographical “Down the Country Road Of Pain” (or something like that). Skye grew up in the old Sonoma County of chicken ranches, apple growing, and agriculture before gentrification. Back before country roads were something sentimental or precious. Skye let go with a whole rap about being alone out there in the country and poor and wanting to have something and finding the harmonica. It was done with a microphone adjusted to sound like a World War Two ship loudspeaker and was hard to make out and hypnotic. The band slammed the slow drag beat behind him steadily. Drone, trance, and blues all in one.

Then the band got really mordant and had a sing-a-long number for all the young guys in T-shirts in the audience: “Let’s Get High!” with its catchy chorus of “Let’s get Hi-yagh!” Yes, a real crowd pleaser for sure, with a simple refrain for those who’ve had a few. Somehow the band members managed to drink water up on stage during the song. Irony is not lost on the Aces.

Derek took over with some wild lead guitar on a fast tune I think is called “Don’t Come Down” or something like that. Derek impressed me with a whole bunch of old time blues licks done in a very modern flashy style that fit perfectly with the pounding beat. Derek grabbed a chair, sat down, and switched to his slide guitar (three ‘lipstick tube’ pickups in a strat body; very nice) and did a part Hound Dog Taylor/part Son House tune.

The last set was a riff and vamp showcase, as by this time the confirmed sitters had decreased and lots more dancers were out on the floor. I remember “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” as being a lot of fun. Skye nuzzled the microphone and was in complete command of the whole song. You know all those obsessions you have? Well, Skye’s there to help you with your problem.

Then the band did something like fifteen minutes of the ancient drone two chord “Smokestack Lightning” vamp with it’s single minor third change and Skye mouthing distorted incomprehensible words like the voice in the back of your mind that you can’t really quite hear. Pounding continued on, making the dancers wild and the cement walls a primitive reverb chamber.

It’s really good to see The Aces back and in control of their own destiny. Nobody sounds like them, and nobody has their whole conception of the blues. It’s blues all the way; it just has an edge and focus that isn’t like bar bands. They aren’t trying to be just like others. They aren’t generic. Guys, it’s good to have you back.

Their old website last updated four years ago:
Their old website last updated four years ago:

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2007

Otis Rush & Friends DVD Live at Montreux 1986

Aaaah...... man!!
I'm sorry but I've got to share this with somebody and your the only ones here right now but geeze you gotta see and hear this if you haven't yet! The song is "Right Place, Wrong Time". It just don't get any better than that, man. His singing is definitely the main attraction here. Then that band backing him-The Professor on the piano, that Anthony on guitar filling while Otis belts it out.... the whole thing!!
Wow! What a show!!
Otis Rush and Friends and I think Luther Allison or Eric Clapton are about to come on....gotta go...

"It's My own Fault" aaah lordy!!
I've must of replayed it at least three times now. It's not on the Cd version of "Otis Rush and Friends" but it's on the video. He's wailin' in his Otis Rush wail....man, I love his singing!
But what's really amazing is that guitarist backing him while he sings on this song. That guy is really good. He's really good through out so far. He knows just when to step up to the plate and take the solos and then fades back after Otis gets done singing and he goes into rhythm mode. Very fine guitar player this, Anthony Palmer. The whole band is tops!!
Professor Eddie Lusk leading the band on keys, Eddie Turner on drums and Fred Barnes on bass.
Ok, I gotta go finish this up. Luther Allison or Eric Clapton haven't even come out yet.

Wow! What a band and Otis has got it goin' on here in this show. He just walks about the stage and picks and sings away.
His voice reigns through out the house......

One thing I'm wonderin' while watching Otis on this song "You Don't Love Me" is...does the sweat runnin' down your face while performing, does it burn your eyes?
It looks as though it does. Clean Towels on stage are important I bet.
Here comes Eric...gotta go.

One song later....
Ya know......I'm a sittin' listening to this, and watching of course, Eric and Otis going at it.
It's pretty cool. Eric seems to be diggin' being up there with one of his mentors, I would suppose.
But what amazes me is this guy Anthony on guitar, how he just fades in and out, and situates himself where he should be on that guitar. Rather in the depths of the rhythm section or in front with his lead licks. The guy hardly gets any notice and I'm talkin' not even a camera pan! But you can hear him. It's frustrating too cuz I want to see him in action but I can't. But then again....it is about Otis, right?
I salute you, Anthony Palmer!

I have always felt the power through his records and I can't imagine what his shows were like. I am really sorry not to have been able to see him live. And to see him up there on stage in this video is just amazing. I've got to rent something else of his on DVD. Absolutely one of my favorites.
DVDs are all fine and dandy but it sure don't beat a real live show. The live energy from the stage, the dancers and people diggin' the blues, it's the best. I really do prefer it over netflix.

So, I highly recommend the video of Otis Rush and Friends. Live in Montreux 1986. The Cd is pretty good but the video is awesome. Although my stereo sounds better than the TV. Hope you have a better sound system hooked up to your TV than I do. My speaker is crackling and it really does sound like crap cranked up.
Nighty nite all and have a great week!

Posted by Mo at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)

Sunday Blues That Never Was. by:mo (8/07)

I decided to go and check out Linda Fierro's Cd release party at the Last Day Saloon. It's been heavily promoted with some bigtime local musicians to be there. I mean she has Volker on her new Cd and yes, he was there on stage.
I walked up, paid my $10 at the window and proceeded into the music room. Before I reached the steps I noticed it- the dreaded tables and chairs on the dance floor. I was about to do an about-face and head right back out the door but I decided to go in and take a peek anyway. Sure, it was cozy but no one looked as though they were having much fun just sitting there, watching. Nope, no room to dance, it was stuffy, I think the AC was out, I left. I wasn't even gonna ask for my money back this time. It was for a good cause but I'm sorry, I didn't go out to sit and watch the blues. I'm gonna do that in a bit with this Otis Rush & Friends video I rented from Netflix. Yep, that's right...a netflix night. Who knows, maybe I'll dance around the living room.
At any rate...Congratulations on you new CD, Linda!

It was just after 4pm when I left the Last day Saloon and I was amped to hear and dance to some blues.
I says to myself, "Hey, Applejack at the Saloon! Let's go for it!" Then I remembered what hwy101 looked liked going south when I got on going north. It was ugly. I got on anyway and decided to give it till Petaluma and see if it moved any faster. No luck. I've been on that freeway going south this time of day on a weekend and it's relentless. I'm talkin' all the way to Golden Gate bridge- relentless. I took Old Redwood Hwy exit and headed towards home. I was really wantin' some of that Blues Power and what a letdown that was to have to go back home. But man...I timed it and it took me 45 minutes to get from Downtown Santa Rosa to the first Petaluma exit, their show ended at 8pm and all that for one set was not worth it to me. Although I do love that band. I'm hoping Tony has a confirmed date with them for the Tradewinds coming up this next month. But hell...I don't think I can wait that long so I'll probably head down there the next Sunday or two. That Applejack sure can sing. And what a band this Blues Power!!

So, here I am at home recording yet another blues cassette for work. This time I'm putting Pat Boyack on it for my blues buddy at work. He loves that rippin' guitar stuff too and I just know he'll appreciate him. Although I'm afraid Pat might not be as rippin' as he likes. Pat likes to take his time and that's refreshing. I'll dig up some others I think he'll like too.
He's a huge Joe Bonamassa fan. Joe's coming up at the Palace of Fine Arts next month. I don't think I've ever heard of a blues show there. Joe tends to venture from the blues into that really fast rockin' stuff, he still blues based. A really good guitarist, no doubt.

I'm outta here. Here I come Otis!!
I've watched half of it so far and talk about a real show!! It's all about Otis Rush, baby. Sure he'll throw the keyboard player and guitarist a bone every now and then (all of 1-2 times thus far) mostly it's all Otis' singing and playing, And that's the way it should be.


Posted by Mo at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2007

A Case of the Willy’s at Mail Depot 8/18/07

Maureen McGuigan is an old friend from the old days at the Tradewinds. Six years ago she was left with four children to raise on her own and no prospects. Being the irrepressible type she had an idea. Spotting a less-than-successful mailbox business she figured out how to transform it, bought it, and is now Petaluma’s premier mailing/shipping site and rental mailbox store. People hang out at her store; “It’s like the TV bar “Cheers” without booze.” Knowing Maureen she probably puts them to work.

Mail Depot is a historic building; it’s the old Greyhound station from years ago. Golden Gate Transit Busses still stop outside. Maureen has had to post a sign saying that Mail Depot isn’t a Bus Station. Naturally, all the bus info is posted there and people still want it to be the bus station. A large sign broadcasts the phone number of the cab company. People walk in past the “this is not a bus station sign” and ask if this is the bus station.

Since the place is full of wild art pictures and packing materials and people hanging out and McGuigans, it just doesn’t look like a bus station. Gracing the cashier’s area is a prominently placed sign displaying the emphatic motto of the Mail Depot, “Shipping marijuana is a crime under Federal Law. The Mail Depot does not ship marijuana!”

As you can see from the above examples, Maureen does a lot of repetition in dealing with mankind at the Mail Depot. In the process she has become an institution in Petaluma and is known far and wide.

In May she emailed me for some music band advice saying she wanted to have a Fifth Anniversary party at the store. I knew she’d had a “Burning Woman” celebration in her parking lot (though I’d missed it). I also knew what having a Fifth Anniversary party meant to any business, that the business was a success. Maureen was waving her flag high.

In an exchange of emails we went through some band names, who she really wanted, why she was probably going to have to take somebody else, how much bands were charging, and why she couldn’t afford more than so much. Realities. Learning the circumstances I was able to give a little advice about actual payment realities and why so-and-so was being a hard case in excess of the market, and how to bargain about the price. Checking on the Internet I also spotted that the hard case bargainer had already put the gig date on a performance calendar although the deal hadn’t yet been done. I advised Maureen that the hard case bargainer had just given away the store, wanted the gig and for her to push back and haggle like a Dublin fishmonger. It was an interesting ethical problem, as I wanted both sides to win. I also didn’t want the other band.

One hot August night while idly checking my email spam filter, I saw that it had caught an email that should have gone through. Calling up the spam filter I saw that it had also caught something from Maureen a few days before. It was my invitation! I would have missed the whole bash! Since this was a private party I wasn’t able to publicize it on the Sonoma Tunes North Bay Calendar. Maureen had given me the OK to email the party to a selected group of friends and associates. She wanted the party to be for the people who’d been there for her.

I arrived at 6:30 to a parking lot which was being arranged into a party zone with yellow caution tape strung along the open side on 4th street and cars and a camper blocking about two thirds of the parking lot. Band equipment and microphone stands and drum cases were scattered on the ground in front of the camper van, which appeared to be the backdrop and sound wall for the band.

There with his head shining in the sun was the drum master himself, Willy Jordan. It was good to see him again and catch up with his doings. He’s working here and there while he goes to school to be a helicopter Med-evac medic- heavy stuff about keeping people alive while in the air to the hospital. Meanwhile on one of his jobs, he was pictured on the cover of the Marin Independent Journal placing a “For Sale” signpost as part of an article about the housing price crash. “At Last! I’m on the front page!” He had the paper duct taped to his bass drum. “Heh! In Marin too!”

Carl Bowers was smiling as always as he assembled his smaller atomic pile, I mean, bass amp. Carl’s lovely wife Gail was there with their son Michael (?) who was resplendent in sneakers with wheels on them and shades. Gail was wheeling him around while the son made it clear through his manly stone face and rigid body that he was cool. I’m looking forward to having Carl’s son have a manly “cool” contest with my sixteen-year-old. Gail said, “Just like his father.” Then she wheeled him around more holding on to his head. He looked cool in his shades. Tough guys have their moms wheel them around just by holding onto their heads.

Trays of food began to magically appear from out of the building with two kinds of grapes, two kinds of quiche (yes, easterners, it’s true) , spicy prawns (I had lots), and a full bar for free. They had a list of truly awful drinks to try, usually a combo of vodka, tequila, and two kinds of fruit juice. I managed to get a Tequila grapefruit out of them; it was so strong I lost my voice for a while. Ahuuaaa!

Inside the food was also being set out and there were fine wines and top rank dark beers in place, plus spring water. Plates of strawberries, lasagna, salami, and other goodies were everywhere. I asked Maureen where the cocktail weenies in tomato sauce were and she showed me her fist. People were piling into the Mail Depot and major grazing and schmoozing began.

I’ve never quite understood why David Schrader has the PA duty for “A Case Of The Willy’s”, probably because he has an old monster of a PA that sounds great. David also has a special microphone he uses for his saxophone. He kept getting out equipment and adding it and doing a running sound balance as he went. “I have a mic, but I need a cord”, said trumpeter Glenn Sullivan. “Uh huh,” said Dave reaching into a nylon bag, “Here’s a fifty footer.”

Volker Strifler was messing with his few pedals and I said with mock horror, “You used to have only a couple of plastic Danelectro pedals—and now you have a pedal board!” Volker hunched his shoulders and said in a small voice, “Well, I need a wah-wah to play funk.” Teasing the modest Volker is such a guilty pleasure; I’ve got to stop doing it.

Suddenly it was 6:30 and right on time the band started. Right from the beginning they were tight and the sound was very good for an outdoor venue. Early on they played some of their swinging numbers like T-Bone’s “Street Walking Woman” and “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and “Jack, You Dead!” People began to dance despite the twilight Ocean breeze (always strong in Petaluma) making it cold for a while. The place had filled up and there was lots of socializing for the first few songs. It was packed inside the building.

Then the breeze died down and it was warmer outside and the funk Was Brought! Willy did one of those intros with just him singing a note –and as always I marveled over his perfect pitch. As always he was right perfectly in the key when the band came in. No wavering, no hesitation. I wonder what it’s like to have perfect pitch. Saxophonist Jane Fossgreen was next to me and she was as astounded as I was.

And now the dancing got really heavy as the James Brown and Ohio Players songs came out of the funk bag. Volker got into his funk bag and was playing rhythm guitar chops of great variety. A person who I know somewhat who’s familiar with Volker as a lead guitarist said, “Don’t you think it’s kind of a waste for Volker to play funk guitar?” I hardly knew what to say as Volker continued on with the amazing rhythm chops that had so much to do with his growth into the guitar legend he’s becoming.

I spent so much time dancing from then on I don’t recall all the songs, and I don’t feel guilty about it at all. Almost everybody was out dancing.

At the first break we had a troop of fire dancers (two male, two female) come out and do their tricks. It was a lot of fun. I could see a touch of nervousness in Maureen’s eyes as the dancers would slightly shake excess burning fluid onto the asphalt at the start of each turn. “My parking lot!” There was never any ignition and it was clear the dancers knew what they were doing. I enjoyed the ‘pyro’ feel of attending a show that probably went back to the pyramids. The dancers were accompanied by one of the female dancer’s fathers on a djembe drum. Very good he was too.

The second set was Funk, funk, and dance and dance. The floor was packed and in the dark everybody came out to dance. It was warmer in the night and the juices were flowing. “I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I Feel Good! I knew that I would!” Dancing to the Willy’s is just something I want to do all the time. So do all my friends! Just to change up sometimes they would play some of Volker’s songs. “Somebody Help Me” stood out, what a pile of rhythm with Volker throwing in one of his celestial solos.

A Case Of The Willy’s is the tightest band around. It makes me kind of sad to think that they don’t play more often now. Willy is busy, and Volker and the other guys are very busy. When they get together those fourteen years of being a band sure do kick right in. They were winging a lot of things and making them work perfectly. They did song endings that sounded like they’d been rehearsed many times, and then they’d laugh with pleasure over pulling off an improvisation.

I could go on raving about the packed three hours of top grade music they gave for Maureen’s party but it would be repeating “Wow!” over and over. I had one of the best nights of music for a long time and danced myself to near-exhaustion. And it was inspiring and very good-humored. A fantastic night.

A really big Happy Fifth Anniversary to Maureen McGuigan, Mail Depot Agent Supreme! Some people just plain make a difference in life!

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)

Peri's Blues & Ramblin's by:mo (8/07)

I saw that The Ed Early band was playing at Peri's in Fairfax lastnight and that was a must.
I really like that place. Small, very intimate, and there's a few other places to check out in the strip while the band is on break. I just love The Ed Early Band and try to get down there whenever they are there.

The band got started without Ed for he was runnin' late. That's Ok, it gave the band a chance to warm up. Ian Lamson was there on guitar and that was great to see!
The last time I went to see Elvin Bishop w/ Lil' Smokey Smothers, Ian was not with him. Heard he hasn't been for awhile now. At any rate, it was great to see he is still with Ed. I was keeping my fingers crossed the whole way down there that he would be there.
The whole band was there. It was a pretty good night. I don't know, maybe it was just me but it just wasn't moving me on this night. It sounded tired but like I said....maybe it was me. I kept waiting for something to reach out and grab me and there were a few moments like when Ed was singing Fannie Mae- that was great!
Mostly I was trying to tune into Ian's fillers and rhythm riffs but it was hard to hear with the keys being right there and louder than the rest of the band. Always a problem with this band. They are good keys just too loud.
Ian does some amazing stuff just in the background. Fun to tune into. Usually he'll "floor me" with some of his solos but nuthin' was grabbin' me.
It was a long first set and then the break seemed even longer so I bailed and headed home. Maybe I missed an awesome second set.

I did see something that really bothered me and I think I'm gonna go ahead and share it.
I walked in and saw our own Leroy Shyne there in his wheel chair. We talked a bit about the blues scene and then the doorguy came up and got in his face about paying the $5 cover. This was while I was standing there talking with him. At first I thought he was joking around cuz after all, this is Leroy here!
Well, he wasn't. I asked Leroy if he would mind if I paid it for him since I was standing there with a five in my hand about ready to buy something at the bar. He accepted with gratitude. I also bought him a cranberry juice while I was thinking to myself, "How can this be?" I don't claim to know much but I do know that Leroy has done much for the music community, mostly for the musicians, and how can he be treated like this?
He of all people shouldn't even have to pay a cover anywhere in the bay area, period! It should be a courtesy that Leroy gets in for free at all the venues especially there in Fairfax. After all, he is a local there and is downtown there a lot. I just don't get it. I hear he has the same problem over at 19 Broadway.
How did it come to this?
The guy has had his share of bumps and bruises so far in this life and is having a difficult time these days but we should not forget what he has done for the music scene. I was really taken back by this. Maybe that's what put a damper on the night, I don't know.
Anyway....it was great to see Leroy again and after some other mishaps he's had lately, he looked pretty darn good.
Love to you, Leroy.

Not much was happening at 19 Broadway except for Wonderbread Five. I peeked in and there they were with their afro wigs bouncin' around on stage then they broke into Michael's 'Billy Jean' and I headed back to Peri's.

I was tired of waiting so I kicked it in the van while listening to this Palo Alto Slim CD I found buried in my collection. It has maybe five songs on it and what a treat that was to hear again after so long. The first song opens with RJ Mischo singing and playing harp. I can't wait to catch a show of RJ's the next time he's in town. That guy's voice and harp playing makes my knees turn to jello.
a fun demo that is of PA Slim. Whatever became of Slim anyway? That kid sure can play!!!

After that I listened to Pat Boyack's Super Blue & Funky. That record there would see me home and what a great one it is!!
Man, can that guy play dat gitar!!
I love the singing too by Spencer Thomas. Great match there. Sure wish he was still playing guitar with Marcia Ball because I saw that she's coming around later this month or next. I wonder what Pat's doing these days. His own band? tours? Haven't heard much about him lately.

That's it. Not a very eventful on this night.
But, that's the risk one takes when going out to live shows. You just never know. It's all about consistency and there's those who will consistently put out a great show no matter what....you can count on it. Then there's the ol' crapshoots.

Til the next show.....

Posted by Mo at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

Tradewinds Tradition Continues....by:mo (8/07)

So what....sure we're gettin' lots of Volker Strifler band these day ....so what. It's about time!!
This occasion would be a pretty special one. At the Tradewinds and it's all about tradition there.
It's been a long while since seeing Volker there in any form at the 'winds. Yep, It's tradition. Probably Ronnie Martin's Birthday bash was the last time.
But now look at Volker. No, not up there playing side guy in A Case of the Willy's. Not a side guy in the Ford Blues Band, Big Mo or anyone. Not saying anything bad about these bands, I love them all but he's now up there with his own band and not just an annual thing when he'd bring Klaus and Stephan out from Germany. He has got himself one hell of a band, the magic they perform on stage is just that....Magic.

What I really want to see Volker do though is take it up just one more little notch to take it to that real professional show feel.
Just to be sure, I started out by taking a count on this night. Now don't forget that this is not saying anything bad about anyone in this band, they are all true professionals and like I said.....this band is magic.
I took a count to see how many songs he would "pass around". The first three were passed around and then finally he laid one on us. "Sometimes I Wonder" was the ticket to Volker world. It literally floored me. WOW!
It seemed I heard at least three songs that really stepped up to the plate during the whole night. I gave up trying to keep count. It would just get going and then end. The momentum lost. Yes, I had fun, just an observation is all. That guitar is, to me anyway, the main attraction. Because man... when he really takes the song to make it his own, it's indeed euphoric.
All great songs and arranged beautifully and yes one should feature the band members every now and then through out the night, but it should be Volker up there layin it on us and the band backing him and doing fillers.

He blew through some oldies off his very first record, 'Full Moon' and some newer ones he doesn't play too often live.
"Little Suzie Anna" was great!!
"Cadillac" is always great to hear and I love what he's done with that song. Changed up a bit from the original version he did on Full Moon.
"On A Day Like Today" was as sweet as can be.
But I do have to say that "Sometimes I Wonder" was my favorite of the night. It was some real killer blues guitar. The band backed it beautifully and then the horns throwing in the ol' "one-two" in all the right places.... guitar.... horn build up...up...up...his heart-felt vocals....aaaah man, it's was phenomenal no doubt. Yes in deedy....that was the song of the night for me.
The guy has an amazing amount of songs under his belt. Just one more eensie-weensy notch......;-)

I do have to say one thing....it sure is great seeing them so busy. Liz must be doing something right. You go girl. Thanks for doing it!!

Thank You Tony for having them at the Tradewinds. Still home for me as far as Sonoma County music goes. I've had some really good times at the ol' 'winds. Seen some of the best shows there too. That whole Cotati crawl was always a blast. 'Inn of the Beginning' is now open under the Friar Tucks name. It was a pub next to Oliver's Market on East Cotati Ave in a little strip mall there in Cotati. They got booted out of there and moved to downtown. It had been there for years and it did upset a lot of regulars when they closed but it was packed with lots of youngsters at their Grand Opening lastnight. They never had music at the old sight, or much to talk about, so I never went there. Now they are open at the Inn of the Beginning site which was Sweet Lou's more recently until they closed. Funny, cuz they always keep the old "Inn of the Beginning" sign up there through out all the changes. I wonder now that they have more room and a stage, if they're gonna have Live music at Friar Tucks? Didn't hear any coming from there lastnight.

Spancky's had Medicine Man there.
Man.... they've been around for a long time!! They were soundin' good doin' their classic rock covers. It had been a while since seeing them last. I stayed for Eddie Money's song "Two Tickets to Paradise" and the guy on guitar did that solo great!
Yep, they were sounding pretty darn tight but classic rock covers is not what I was wantin' on this night. Break time was about over for Volker and band so back I went.

I was pretty wiped by the third set not napping after work and all. Plus the two beers early on about put me out. I'm not a drinker anyway. I was wanting to go home and sleep but I didn't want to miss anything. I'm glad I stuck it out because that's when he did "On a Day Like Today".
That song there really lets you hear just how sweet his singing is.

Thanks Volker and gang for a fun-filled musical journey.
I want you to know V that I've got a cramp in my right leg for kicking straight out during one of your bits. I don't think I've ever kicked up that high. In a vertical position anyway. It took the whole rest of the night dancing just to work it out a bit. My hand is sore too from pounding on the floor when you floored me. And man did you floor me on a couple of them songs. I could of gotten rugburns too but I was able to somewhat restrain myself from crawling on the floor to you just to beg for mercy.
Weird, my obsession with guitar. I think I need help.


Posted by Mo at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2007

Julliard Park Blues! by:mo (8/07)

The "Powerful Sonoma County weekend" was still rollin' on Sunday.
I managed to get some stuff done around the house and just enjoyed the time alone with just me and the blues. Pulled out some stuff I hadn't heard in awhile and put together yet another blues cassette for work. I listened to some Dave Specter, Ronnie Earl, Robben Ford, Duke Robbilard and some Volker to pump me up for the show that was a comin' later in the day. There seems to be pattern in there somewhere..hmmm....
Then for something totally different, I blasted Hound Dog to the neighbors.

Man, I just love that guy!!
There's one other song I'd like to call a favorite off that record and that's "Ain't It Lonesome".
It starts out slow, simple and pure, Hound Dog talkin' thru it about how if you don't want to be here then you can pack your things and go. Then he starts into saying, "but before you go, lets make love one more time". Then he says it again but this time he breaks into a smooth singing,
" .......let's make love just one more time. Maybe in the mornin' you will change your mind".
It's so sweet the way he breaks into the singing part. It was for me, a true tear jerker. I'm an emotional basket case right now anyway.

So, it was time to get ready and head on out to Julliard Park for Volker's 5pm show. I showered, grabbed all the bluesin' essentials and headed out the door.
Got there a bit early and found a nice shady spot to park right behind the stage. They have moved the stage since the last time I was at one of these things the Santa Rosa Parks & Rec Dept puts on.
They put the stage in the more shaded part of the park away from the busy Santa Rosa Ave. Pretty cool setting. I was hangin' out in the van listening to Hound Dog Taylor when I heard the band start up. As I was getting out I thought it was odd they started early. I got to the dance area and went straight into dancing to the....get this....sound check!!
I thought it was wierd the way he made a medley out of a couple of his songs but it didn't surprise me being Volker and all. The guy's always changing things up. I just went with it until it ended abruptly.

They started soon after that and away we went....
He had everyone with him including a third horn player, Al Garth on sax. They sounded great!
It was announced that they were very busy with the Guitar Summit Friday night, Grass Valley show Saturday, an audition at Last Day Saloon Sunday morn and then this thing at 5pm. I'm exhausted just typing all that! They held up great.
Volker's voice just gets better and better. I don't know what else to say about this band that hasn't already been said a million times. It's great to see them so busy. They are well on their way.
They will be at the Tradewinds this Friday, Aug. the 18th, $7 cover. start up at 9:30

The grassy dance area filled up with dancers and what a fun bunch that was!! I turned away looking at the view the stage had and that was pretty cool. People playing Frisbee, walking around, lounging and listening, people dancing and smiling, kids runnin' around, towering redwoods, it was pretty cool.

What a great way to end the Powerful Blues Weekend.
Thank you Volker, Carl, David, Al, Don, Gary, Chip...whew!
Did I leave anyone out?
Thank You SR Parks&Rec for putting it on.
The coffee ladies were awesome, and what a fun bunch of dancers!


Posted by Mo at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

Rob Watson's Shindig at the Tradewinds! by:mo (8/07)

So after that Blowout fun ended last Saturday night at the ace-in-the-hole, I headed closer to home for the Tradewinds. It was Rob Watson and his show he had put together. I love this guys bass playing. He also plays some good guitar but that bass playing is his thing no doubt.
Walked in and I'll be damned if I hardly recognized anybody on the bandstand.
Except for Rob of course, and the percussionist I remember from Levi's band. He has played with Levi a few times before. Nope, didn't know who the keyboardist, the drummer or the guitarist was. The first thing I heard though was the guitar playing for sure. This guy was phenomenal!!
I heard it out in the parking lot right when I pulled up and went into quickstep to get there.
It was that fast jazz/fusiony bluesy kind of stuff. You know, the kind that ventures way out into the depths of the unknown. He kept it a bit more grounded though. Kind of like a Robben Ford style but smoother, crisper and cleaner.
Then when it was blues time, he play that straight forward blues guitar with ease. Although his solos would venture a bit he always managed to keep it grounded.
Anyway....his name is Barry Finnerty. I thought his name was Andre Williams who was on the bill with Rob. Michael Emerson corrected me and now I know his name is Barry Finnerty. I'm thinking I am supposed to have heard of this guy before but sorry to say, I hadn't.
Well worth knowing of that's for sure.
I am now assuming this Andre Williams was the singer.

One thing about Rob's shows and that's that you may not know who he will have with him in his band but you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be the best. He always surrounds himself with some awesome talent.
What a tight band that mixed it up with some soul, funk and the blues baby!
Mike Emerson was there checking it out, and very excited about seeing this Barry Finnerty guy. He sat in on keys for a couple of killer numbers. It was cool to see Mike up there playing with this guy that he stated was one of his favorites. The excitement in his eyes and in his playing was contagious. That was cool.

I know there wasn't much guitar at the blowout but it surely made up for that at this show. Great, GREAT band.
Thanks Rob for throwing it together.
Thank you Tradewinds for hosting it. Couldn't think of a better way to end this night.

I took the long way home, with a few intended wrong turns just to ponder on the whole evening while Hound Dog Taylor took me home. That guys was amazing, wasn't he? I've been playing the hell outta this Cd I have of his. This one song on here called "Phillip's Theme" is a knockout!!
Six minutes and thirty seconds of pure blues guitar and nuthin' else. It's so raw, so pure, it just reaches right on in there and pulls out all that crap that just builds up in side of you. Very cleansing indeed. Man, I just love that guy!
Thank you Hound Dog for tucking me in.

Love to all!

Posted by Mo at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

Stan Erhart's Power Trio at the 'Winds! by:Mo (8/07)

Wow! what a powerful bluesy weekend it's been thus far here in Sonoma County!
Just wish I had the endurance I used to.

Had a dinner date with some friends Friday evening and on my way home I decided to try and make a few blues rounds.
I was already wiped after a wake up call of 3am but what the hell, it was on the way home.

I thought about hittin' the Great American Hall Blues Guitar Summit but, it's just that I need to simplify a bit. And with Danny comin' up this way soon and Volker playing at Julliard park today and Tradewinds next weekend, I decided that there was just too much to see and hear here in SoCo.
My plan, before dinner came up, was to hit the Sweet Spot for Soulshine, Tradewinds for Stan Erhart. I was curious about Smoke House at Spancky's too. Then after that, head on over to The Black Cat Bar in Penngrove for Beth Kohen with special guest, Wendy DeWitt. I'm ashamed to say that I have never been to Black Cat Bar. I hear it's the spot!
I made it to Tradewinds for Stan and that was as far as I got.

Damn, Stan!!
I had never seen that side of you before!
I know I've seen you only a couple of times before, mostly sittin' in, but this here trio you had on Friday was a power trio!!
Great stuff. The songs built up and up, with that awesome rhythm section helping of course, and it just became euphoric.
I love how you really step up with your playing too. I can imagine pulling off the trio bit could be difficult but you sir did just fine. Great stuff. I love a trio when it works and it worked for you guys.
Hats off to Michael Warren and Artie "Stix" Chavez. What a trio indeed!
Michael Warren is about as badass as they come on the bass. You gotta hear this guy! He covers alot of ground.

Artie's drummin' is just plain ol' timely. It's skipped up a beat or two. I don't how to explain it but it's just faster but in a good way. The timing and everything is just perfect.
A unique style that's....that's....well....just "Skippy"
Real fine trio indeed.

I was outside during break and I heard Carlos callin' me and off I went across the street to Spancky's to check it out. It was Smokehouse and they were doing Santana's "Europa" and it was pretty damn good. It called me across the street anyway. I was standin' there, watching, the drummer looked and sounded new but that guitar carried it out. I just love Carlos. A musical genius he is.
Anyway, the guy playing guitar with Smokehouse did a great job at it. After that they broke into "Play That Funky Music Whiteboy" and I bailed and headed back to the blues.

I saw Levi and he said he was headin over to Black Cat Bar and that's when I told him I had never been there. He was a bit amazed at that and said, "See ya over there, Mo?"
I said just maybe. I was wiped and feeling it by the minute. I went and sat to hear more Stan & trio and the room began to spin alittle and it was right then I knew I had to go home and sleep.
I'm real sorry to have missed more Stan and I really wanted to hit Black Cat but there's always another night. I'm thinking tomorrow for the Monday Jam because I've heard twice, in one night, from two different people, that that's the place to be on a Monday. Starts early too. I hear Rob Watson is there a lot and that's..... well.....a whole 'nother story. His show lastnight at the Tradewinds was killer! Wow!! More on that later.

Promise to catch more of Stan's show next time he rolls into the Tradewinds. It was a blast.
I gotta go get ready for Volker's show at the park.

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

Ace-in-the-Hole Blowout Fun! by:Mo (8/07)

Yet another place I'm ashamed to say that I've never been to and that's The Ace-in-the-Hole Pub in Graton, right outside of Sebastopol. This would actually be my second time, the first being a few weeks back. I was scoutin' it out for the harp blowout. When I went a few weeks back, the band Phenix was playing. I knew Sonny Lowe was playing with them. That was fun and it's a very fun crowd there. It was mostly a classic rock, folky cover band and a lot of fun. Sonny got to do a few of his own and he broke them into some blues baby! I just love his version of "Messin with the kid" and "Miss Bessie's BBQ". Great stuff. He's soundin really good.

I first caught wind of the 'blowout' from Skye O'Banion, harp player and singer of the Aces. He was at the Sonoma County Blues Festival a couple/few of weeks ago. I also heard that The Aces will be at The Russian River Brewery coming up at the end of this month. The 25th or 26th. I can't wait for that show. It's just great to see that the Aces are still playing. Wish they had more gigs. Sure, it's a younger type of college crowd at the brewery but I shale endure for this.
That Derek Irving on that guitar is one of Sonoma County's best kept secrets. And then you throw David Burke in the mix, another best kept secret of sonoma county, with that rhythm/bass mix he plays with the Aces and lord oh mighty! Yep, he does it all.
Hopefully Mike Gutch will be there "standing" behind that kit and of course Skye on harp and vocals.
I can't wait!!!

So, anyway, what a great show this was. I had heard that David Burke was gonna be there but I really wasn't expecting much since it was indeed a harp blowout. Although, he did step up a few times and blew us away with his gruff vocals and stingin' guitar, but mostly he hid.
But like I said, I wasn't expecting much more and it was in fact the respectable thing to do. I just really wish that Burke would do something of his own. Front his own band and get on it soon!
That guy's playin' makes my toes curl, I get cramps in my arches, jello in the knees, and the artery in my neck feels as though it's gonna burst when he gets goin'. Yes, cramps in the neck. It's eye poppin', right to the point, straight in for the kill blues guitar. Aaaah fuck it....it's down right orgasmic!!!
Get on it, David.

This was probably one of the best Blowouts I've ever been to.
Sonny's sounding great and lookin' good too. Sweetharp Santana was there and she's cute as a button. Not only that, that gal can play!
We had all three up there- Skye, Sweet and Sonny, all in good form and just a blowin' us away all night with that Mississippi sax.
Real fun show.
They moved the pool table to make room for dancing and it was utilized. There was a good crowd and everyone was into the music. I really love this place. I will be back. They have all sorts of music. It's all ages, food, a patio, very friendly crowd and attentive owners.
Thanks four a great blues party Sonny. I had a blast.
Thank you Ace-in-the-hole for hosting it.
Just a thought....Wouldn't it be cool to have our own, Sonoma County Blues guitar summit?

Posted by Mo at 03:58 PM | Comments (1)

Sonny Lowe Harp Blowout at Ace Pub, Graton 8/11/07

The Blues is an odd unpredictable music and experience. Like any fan I’ve spent big bucks for great shows, medium shows, and terrible shows, and been to free gigs that were the best and/or worst.

The word from Sonny Lowe was that he had a harp blowout with Sweetharp Santana booked at the small Ace-in-the-Hole Pub in the small town of Graton north of Sebastopol. Sonny had been a mainstay of the Sonoma County blues scene for a long time; it was good to see him getting organized again.

Pulling up to the Ace I had to circle once for a parking space, always a good sign. At the door was a better sign: “Harp Blowout with Sonny Lowe, Sweetharp Santana, and Skye O’Bannion.” I hadn’t known of Skye’s participation and I was delighted. Skye after a rough stretch has been determined and disciplined about moving forward.

The band was in their opening number and there were plenty of familiar faces in the crowd. The drummer was Steve DuBois (formerly of Johnny Nitro)

and the new-to-me bass player was Dave Duport.

The great (and almost unknown outside Sebastopol) guitarist David Burke was down on the end of the bandstand hiding in a camouflage t-shirt with a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes so no one would know he was there. The cap had a beaver on it signifying David’s long, deeply held interest in conservation and wild life.

On six string baritone-bass Tall Paul Dowling was handling rhythm chores with authority.

What a wall of sound! It was bullet mic night with a three-harp attack. Sonny was opening with some of the classic numbers the band usually does like “Miss Bessie’s Barbecue” to start the show off and they were hot from the beginning. Skye was really blowing and the shy seventeen-year-old Sweetharp was really getting the tone out of her harmonica.

A triple harp show could be a train wreck but this one worked as the three harp players all had different styles and personalities. Sonny is a leathery genial but cynical Sonny Boy Williamson type; Skye is a blonde pompadour punk with attitude and a chromatic harp; Sweetharp is a shy cute maturing teenager in large punk boots with a harp tone like Big Walter Horton.

When I arrived the dance floor was empty and there were a lot of people sitting around. I put myself out on the tile dance floor and Mo was out there quickly too. Within minutes others got themselves out on the floor and the dance floor began to fill up. This was due to the band starting out fast and keeping it up. The rhythm section was working hard and really sounding good and the three harpists began trading solos and somehow never getting in each other’s way. Little guitar fills and a huge bass sound perked the harpists as they began somehow developing individual voices in the wall of sound.

Sonny with his spare clean sound and Skye with his fat tone and frequent use of the organ toned chromatic harp led off as Sweetharp hung back a little at first. The power of what was going on with fine solo after solo took over Sweetharp too and she really began to wail with the others. The dancing on the floor was packed and stayed that way for the rest of the night. Skye tried to do his “Lying On The Floor and Blowing Harp” piece of showmanship, but there just wasn’t room as the dancers were so packed. There was nowhere to back up to.

I’m not sure how they managed to keep the solos so individual all night. It was inspiring and the band really seemed to be into the show. It just kept getting better. There was never any room for taking notes so I don’t remember the order of the songs nor a lot of the titles. I do remember great organ like solos, buzzing burning solos, melodic solos, and wails in the night. Classic bits of harp lore like “I want my Mama” noises and train sounds were quoted but were never made the centerpiece of a song. Every so often they’d turn David Burke loose for a song or a solo as a refreshing variation. David hard cider voice and cutting guitar would cut through the wall of sound.

The second set was as good as the first and the songs and solos were just plain done right. The dancing got even wilder and the crowd was really into the show. I heard later the Ace had one of their biggest nights. Certainly they got the pool table and its light out of the way pretty early. The staff and manager were rocking too once the kitchen closed. A lot of people had a rally good time and stayed for the whole show and talked on after the show.

If Sonny is able to repeat this Harp Blowout show don’t pass it up, it was something we haven’t seen in Sonoma County for a while.

Posted by Rolfyboy6 at 07:37 AM | Comments (2)

August 05, 2007

Sonoma Co. Blues Fest & Ramblin's by: Mo (7/07)

Got the kid off to the airport on Friday and he's back in Iraq now. It wasn't as hard to see him go this time only because he seems to be doing really good. It's as though a huge weight has been lifted off of me since seeing him. He doesn't like it there but he really doesn't complain about it, talks a lot more than he use to, and has the confidence of a real man now.
Besides all that....he's only got 5 more months. So it was a great visit and I had all the kids home for awhile.
His old band members were in town too and that meant a jam was in order but no drum kit was to be found. I called around to several places and no one would rent us a kit for a day if they rented drum kits at all.
No one except the Marin Music Center in Novato. The owner, Jesse, was so awesome. He let us keep it for two days for cheap. So it
was a jammin' party here for two days but the neighbors didn't mind.
Yep, it was a rockin house party here- Heavy Metal style!
As ten o'clock was approaching, I said they had to start winding down and requested they take us home with a blues number for dear old Mom. Man oh man, can that kid play some blues guitar!
I was thinking to myself that maybe I was just being partial since he's my kid but no, that wasn't it. The kid can really play!
I was amazed. The band held a good steady blues groove and the last song was some kick ass blues guitar fun. One of the guys recorded it and said it was a 23 minute jam. I told them they almost beat In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida's record!
Part way through the song his other guitar buddy joined in and they were exchanging licks and playing off each other like they've done this forever!
I tell you what....it was better than a lot of stuff I've seen out there on the scene.
I even discovered he has John Lee Hooker on his Ipod.
Yep, everybody's got the blues.
It was just like old times here at home and now it's all quiet again but I'm ready for some alone time for a spell.

I decided that it's really time to get back out on the blues scene and hit it hard this time. I have missed it and lots has changed in just these past two years while I've been kinda layin' low.
New bands and musicians have emerged or moved away, venues opening, closing or just changing their format. Even the whole dynamics on stage has changed in some bands. I've also noticed that there are many jams everywhere which is cool. As long as they stay at jams and don't start jammin' at shows.

I missed the Sonoma County Blues Fest last year and I even heard they opened up the front and center of the stage for dancing at that one!
Really sorry to have missed that.
Even so, there's always a dance area set up not to far from the stage to the side. It's always used and most the day it stays filled with bouncin' heads not just gawkers.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was the lack of security. Not that this an open invitation to terrorists or anything it's just that in past years they have been a problem. Not the terrorists just the security. Too many rules and boundaries, shoot... they were downright intimidating! Not this year though!
I didn't see not one big budging bicepted yellow t-shirt wearin' person there.
There was dancin' in the aisles and what do you know....not one problem I saw with this old middle-aged crowd. There was a big aisle kept opened in front with a rail but that was it. Very laid back, shaded, the best damn house music, great sound, just a real cool event.

There were complaints about not being able to leave stuff in the theater while one pokes around the fair. Used to be you could do that. Get there early and just walk in, lay your stuff out and leave for a while. It is a fair after all. It's hard to tote around all this festival stuff at a fair. I don't even go as early as I used to. Probably the only reason I even go to the fair is because of this festival.
Tell you what though.....gotta check out the "Hall of Flowers" at this fair. Pretty awesome.
There's a little theater across from the hall that always has music going on too. It's really cool back there. Lots of trees, a dance floor laid out on the grass front & center of the stage, lots of tables to sit at to eat or just relax under the trees while enjoying the music.
When I walked up, it was Michael and Blue Suede. I had heard of them but never seen them. They do have a following it seems because there were two guys dressed up like Elvis with fake mics and guitars standing right in front. They were taking their role very seriously ;-) It was a very fun dancin' crowd. The guy, Michael, did a great job at Elvis and had a good band to back him. I hated to leave but the blues was a callin' me back.

The highlight at this blues fest for me was Michael Burkes. He was so awesome. He really played for us, the fans. He came down and wandered around and just ripped on that guitar! I think he even wandered into the kiddy carnival area. Man it was cool. Great band backing him too!
What a show that was.

After that my favorite was Nick Moss on the house music!!
Just kidding although there's some truth to that too;-)
The guy was tearin' it up!
I was outside, smokin' & jokin' with a couple of people during break when all of the sudden his guitar just whipped through the air, shot right through me and made me say outloud, "Damn....listen to that guy!"
Dee says, "who, Mo?" while looking on stage.
I think it was his 'Live at Chan's' CD or something like that. I can't wait to see him this September.

I caught a couple a Janiva's set and went wandering around looking for coffee. They really need a good coffee stand there. Bought something at the Pavilion, got some fries and that's when I went to the Michael & Blue Suede thing I was talkin' about. So, I missed most of her set. That's alright, I've seen her a few times. She had a totally different band this time and they were alright. To be honest, I was kind of disappointed about that part there. The last time I saw her she had the most awesome band! I came back and the crowd was very happy about that set there.

Volker's set was great although he was missing his regular horn section. He had a last minute fill-in, and a couple of the area's best I might add, but it just wasn't that Volker horn section with Carl Bowers and David Schrader. They were surely missed. It's just that this is just a very well rehearsed band and that horn section of his really build up his songs. Other than that....a great set by V and band.

Another band worth mentioning is that John Lee Hooker Jr. What a showman he is!
But that wasn't what got to me....it was his band!! Wow!!
There was this kid on guitar and the guy was amazing. And I ain't talkin' just his solos here. Just his fillers, rhythm, he had so much going on. Really fine guitar player indeed. I don't know who he was, and haven't researched it yet, but man...was he good.
The whole band was tight...tight...tight!
John can sing too. He really likes to play the crowd. Kinda reminds me of a gangsta bluesman.
I really liked his version of "Part Time Love". They did a great job at that. He has many originals too.
I heard many say, mostly guys, "he ain't no John Lee Hooker".
I would just say, "I don't think he's trying to be".
It's obvious he has a sound all his own. Even when he covers his daddy's stuff, it's nuthin' like the Sr's. He almost makes a medley out of them.
I enjoyed his show but mostly it was because of that band! Wow!!

Patrick Sweany was great if you dare to venture out of the blues and into that acidy rockin stuff. The guy has some energy and is cute as a button but like a few of us said afterwards, we need the whole package ;-)

David Jacob Strain was good too. A great way to open the show.

Great day and my feet were sore. Time to change shirts and head over to the Last Day Saloon for the after festival Party. I wasn't sure I was gonna make it but I was determined to try.
I thought it was cool that we here in Sonoma County were finally gonna have our very own 'after-the-fest-party'.
Lots of places have them but we never did. I know Moe's is packed after Santa Cruz fest.
I was keepin' my fingers crossed and hopin' a lot of the musicinas would be there for that ultimate jam.

I made there, and Volker was already goin' at it. He had half his horn section back and that seemed to tighten it up considerably! The only problem I had was that they did the same exact set as at the festival. I didn't get it but aaah well. They sounded great.
After Volker's set, I bailed. I have a feeling I missed something special, I don't know. Maybe someone will share the rest of the night.
I had one other mission to accomplish believe getting off these feets.

I headed closer to home and stopped at the Tradewinds. Levi Lloyd was there. I heard he changed up his band somewhat and I was most curious. Levi is absolutely one of my favorites when he rips into that blues. Just maybe......
Well, I got there, pulled into a spot, took a listen and they just started into the 'break song". I really love that song and wish they'd do the whole damn thing once in awhile. It's an instrumental and I think it's by Albert Collin's or someone like that.
So, I waited in the van and listened to Earl Hooker while propping up my feet on the dash. He was sounding sweet as I almost fell a sleep there in the van in the Tradewinds parking lot.
They started up so I went in.
It started out ok.... new drummer, no keys, and Levi was soundin' good and then it was break time again. It had only been three or four songs! I wasn't waitin' around again so I left there, went home, crashed out and crashed out hard.
Man what I'd give to hear a whole set of just Levi playin' some blues!

What a great day it was. Didn't even have to leave the county!
Thank You Smith & Bowker productions for yet another fine show. Lookin' forward to the next big blues show.
Thank You Dave of the Last Day Saloon for hosting the after the fest party even though I bailed early.
Great to see all those familiar blues lovin' faces once again. Some people I don't see hardly ever except at this festival here.

See ya on the blues trail.....

Posted by Mo at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

Backyard Fun with John Nemeth! 7/07 by:mo

Alls I got to say is....Thank You KRSH and Bill Bowker for having him there!
It was such a blast. I hadn't been to but a few of these backyard shows and I had forgotten how fun they were. Then again, I don't remember them being so much fun for John really had the place a hoppin'!
A real fun crowd that loved what they were hearing as much as I was. And talk about a bunch of dancin' fools. It felt great and it was probably the show of the week, if not month, it's been awhile since I've jumped around like that. That guitar was makin' me do it.

I'm not sure where he found that guitarist but the kid was amazing.
Kedar Roy was on bass and I'm not sure who the drummer was but the whole band was tops! Way over the top.
John's singing is the show. And yes, the guy can blow some great harp but his voice is just so sweet. When he broke into that old " Come on in this house, yeah, this old house. When you hear me howlin'......" we all had to howl. Man, does he cover that song beautifully!!
And that guitar.....geeze. I wonder if he's the same guy that is on his first CD , "Jack of Harps". No, it wasn't Kid Anderson. He was with him the last time I saw John and we all know 'the kid'.

The crowd was showin' John some lovin' after the show after the show as well and his table was busy. You couldn't even get to the guy!. The crowd was gobbling up them CDs and stuff.
I already have all three but I was wanting to go up there and get more because that's how good he is. I hope he sold out. Looked as if he might of.

A great setting with a beautiful backyard, nice folks and a bunch I hadn't seen in some time, the sound was awesome, a nice dance area set up, beautiful weather, it just don't get much better than this. Thanks Bowker and to all the sponsors of this fun-filled event.
I do have to say that Smith & Bowker productions put on some pretty incredible shows. Real shows. Thanks again.
Lookin' forward to the Sonoma County Blues Fest next Saturday, the 28th.


Posted by Mo at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

Freund's Birthday Blues Jam! 7/07 by: Mo

Happy 'Belated' Birthday, Mr. Freund!

Dee was a bit upset with me the last time I went down to the Saloon to see Steve Freund and I didn't tell her so we had to go.
Besides, it just sounded like a good idea to get caught up and the best way to do that is every once in awhile head to a jam. Folks may say, "but Mo, I thought you didn't like jams".
I do love Jams and there's a time and a place for them. When you go out and expect a show and get a jam, it's a bit of a letdown. But when you go out and expect a jam and it's a good jam, it's really cool.
I love going to jams when I know that's what I'm gonna get. Discovered some of my favorite musicians and bands through Jams, benefits, birthdays and such. Like I like to say, it's a good way to get "caught up" and that last Thursday night was a blast!
Freund sure knows how to throw a blues party.

First off I've just gotta say that the rhythm section was just about the bestest and most solid sh*t I've heard in just about...well....ever!
You guys- Bassman Tim "The Ice man" Wager and Little Drummer Boy Robi Bean, well you guys had the thing really goin' on. Just a well oiled groovin' machine. It was so smooth and without the solid back beat it just don't mean nuthin'. Unless it's a solo gig of course.

Steve was sounding great with just his trio thing goin' on but the order at hand was to have a Birthday blues Jammin' party and so it began. Had all sorts of folks up I hadn't seen in a long while. John Peterson, Scottie Brenton who I have missed and hadn't see or heard in some time. Real good to hear him again.
He got Mark Hummel up there and that was killer. I wonder who's in his Blues Survivors these days??
John Nemeth showed up and sang a couple. Pretty cool to just have seen him a couple of hours ago for a fantastic show at the KRSH backyard gig and then here he is again!
Steve Kaufman got up to sing & play a couple and just lots of that sweet Mississippi sax, yes indeed.

A fun and appreciative crowd was on hand.
Francis Clay hung out for the whole night. He's lookin' good.
Ron Hacker showed but never played.
Sid Morris was in the house for a moment but no keys in hand ;-)
Bummer too because this guy is one of my favorite piano players around here, or anywhere, for that matter. Been way too long since hearing him.

There were more and it was a fun night but man...was I wiped out after that John Nemeth show earlier in the day.

Thanks for the Birthday Cake and Birthday Tart Celia and whoever else made them- they were delicious.
Happy "Belated" Birthday Steve and thanks for a bluesin' good time. You and your trio are soundin' just more awesome with each time I hear ya.
Your are quite the Blues Jam master but your shows are even better. For me anyway.

Hats off to that Rhythm section, Mr. Bean & Mr. Wager!
Your guys are cool as "Ice" and yet you can make it jump like a "Jumpin' Bean". Don't laugh, it was the best I could come up without thinking too hard this early in the day.
No, really, you guys are the best.


Posted by Mo at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)