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January 06, 2008

A month or so in review....by:Mo (1/08)

What a month it has been too!!
Not just musically speaking either. Although, I did manage to get a few blues shows in and for starters it was Craig Horton at the Saloon about four weeks back on a Tuesday night. I can't even remember who I went with, it was so long ago.
I do remember one thing though and that was that Steve Gannon on second guitar was most excellent! I don't recall Steve sounding so damn good. He's always been good but I don't remember that good.
It was great to finally catch up to Craig again too. He was soundin' pretty good. His singing always sweet.
One other thing I remember too and that was the drums on that night were way to fast and loud for Craig's style. It seemed to be drowning him out and even seemed to be throwing him off, or distracting him, if you will.
Just a personal observation.
Craig has a pretty laid back style. I for one....love it.
It was great to be back in the city at the Saloon.

The following Friday, somewhere around the 30th of Nov., I went down to the Larkspur theater cafe to see Volker Strifler and band. What a cool venue that is! Great sound, nice dance floor in front of the stage, cozy feel to the place.
The band was soundin' better than ever on that night. You could feel the excitement in them and one could even tell that big things are in store for these guys.
I went with Teri and it was an honor to be with her when she became a Grandma for the very first time.
Congratulations once again, Teri!
A beautiful baby, girl!!
That was cool.
Real nice night and like I said....the band was soundin' real tight, all of them, and V really stepped up on that guitar this time 'round and it was real nice to hear that again. A musical genius, he is. Awesome night. The guy writes some really fine material and from what I've heard, loads of it that has not even been played yet. He's always changin' songs up on ya too. Just hope he keeps remembering that he is Volker Strifler and I hope this doesn't sound harsh, and yes, it is called the Volker Strifler "Band" but still, he's the main attraction. Don't be passing out the songs to all on stage. Keep his vocals and guitar as the main feature for most the show. This night at the Larkspur Theater cafe was a great example. Did I mention what a great night it was already?

The following week I drove to Kansas to see my Son come home from Iraq. Drove his truck so he could have it there at Ft. Riley while stationed there. I knew he was comin' home on leave soon afterwards but I really didn't want him drivin' back there from here by himself in the dead of winter. Besides, I wanted to see him get off the bus with the rest of the company.
The drive back there was hairy and I was glad we didn't have to the drive back home. It was during that icestorm they had around Okalahoma and Kansas. I drove down to San Diego to pick up my brother first. We headed over I-8 and at the top there of the summit between the coastal region and the desert, it was snowing. Not a good sign. Headed into Arizona and it was beautiful complete with rainbows and big billowy clouds. Got on I-17 goin north and wouldn't you know it....a blizzard in flagstaff! Got through that, slow but steady and no chains, and they closed the hwy soon after we passed. That one there caught everyone off guard.
Got to I-40 and headed east through some of the most dense fog I've ever been in.
Headed NE on 54 and it was nuthin' but ice, slush and more ice.
Stupid Californians, we forget to put some of that anti-freeze stuff in the wiper reservoir and it froze up. No solution whatsoever and nothing but sand, dirt, salt made up a nice icy concoction that covered our windshield pretty much for hundreds of miles. Learned a trick just to clear the windshield real quick and that was to come up on a bigrig and let them hit you with some roadspray and turn on the wipers real fast. That usually worked for a minute.

Made it to Riley and there we stayed, held up in Motel 6 for a few days. There were many delays getting the troops home due to the weather. They finally made it, safe and sound. A nice short ceremony and then the families were reunited. I was hopin' they would keep the ceremony short because I could tell, if they didn't, there was no holding back the families for long. They were ready to rush the formation!! It was a real nice moment.
Although I wouldn't want to live in it, Icestorms are beautiful!!
It looks so fragile yet it's so harsh. Everything is encased in glass it looks like. Like a big crystal wonderland. Not snow-covered but glassy. I really felt for the trees all broken and fallen from the weight of the ice but mostly I felt for the folks who had no power for days. On the final day there, a big thaw was happening and let me tell you.....that is more dangerous than the icestorm!! Heads-up!!
That was indeed an experience I will not soon forget.

Got home and thank goodness I wasn't in Kansas anymore!!
There's no place like home.

Looked on the blues calendars and what I saw coming up had me all excited and I didn't even have to leave the county.

I went to Tradewinds on the 15th to hear some Michael Barclay Blues Band. I'm telling you this and I swear it's no lie.....this is by far the best I've heard him in a loooong time!
Hot damn....he was on fire!! The whole band had his back too. It was euphoric, built up and didn't let up at all until the song was over.
What a great night that was.
The whole night pretty much featured the featured artist, imagine that!!
Kent Fossgreen, bassman extraordinaire was MIA and missed. Who they had in his place was no slouch though. Steve Winter, I think his name was, and he was fantastic. The whole band was soundin' great but that Michael is who I went to hear and did I get an ear full!
Thank you Michael and band for some killer blues but mostly.... Michael... I want to Thank you for that killer guitar work. Yep, he still reigns as 'King of Sonoma County Blues' in my book.

The next night, a Sunday night, was the Fabulous Thunderbirds at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma. I didn't see that one coming until I got back from Kansas and I got really excited about it. The T-Birds has Kirk "Eli" Fletcher with them these days and he is, in my book, one of the best blues guitarist out these days. I love his style and it really gets to me. He doesn't sing but he sure can make that guitar do some singing. The last time I saw the T-Birds, they had Nick Curran on the "other" guitar along with Kirk, but Nick is no longer with them. In his place was Johnny Moeller. I had heard of him but not familiar with his stuff. He, and his brother on drums, were there on this night.
I noticed that Kim Wilson likes to keep a more rockin', faster player on his left and a more tradional blues guitarist on his right. I love his right side best.
That Kirk got to really shine if not for just one song and that, to me, was worth all the wait. The whole song was his and did he ever make it his own. Man, can that guy play!! It was a pretty good night, I guess. Not enough Kirk though. In the second set, Kim asked Elvin Bishop up and that pretty much killed any more chances of hearing some more Kirk. I do love Elvin though. Elvin & Kirk were standing next to one another, trading off some serious licks and riffs. Elvin does have a strong stage presence, no doubt.
They broke into "Tough Enough" and that's when I decided I had "Had Enough" and bailed.
A pretty decent night from the T-Birds.
Being a Sunday and all, they should have skipped the opener and just had the featured band play earlier so us older workin' folks could get a decent nights sleep.

The next weekend was almost a flop as far as my blues ventures go.
I went out Saturday to hear the Aces at Jasper's in Sebastopol, once again. They were so good the last couple of times I've seen them. My plan was to hit them for a set and half or so and then inch closer to home for the Sorentinos' Christmas party at the Tradewinds. They are not necessarily the blues but what a great band that does some rock, folk, Americana and they'll throw in some blues too.
I just love the Sorentinos and that Danny Sorentino sure can write some great songs.
Anyway...I got to Jasper's, fashionably late because I know they always start later than they're supposed to. They didn't start until almost 10:30!! Everything was set up and ready to go so I wasn't gettin' it. They played what seemed like a short set and then it was already breaktime. I left because my time is valuable to me and especially bluesin' time and sleeptime.
I stopped at Tradewinds for one awesome set from the Sorentinos. It was so warm and cozy in the 'winds on this night. The crowd felt good and the spirits "High".
The Aces will be at the Tradewinds this coming weekend I think I saw on Rolf's calendar so maybe this will be a better night for them. it just didn't seem to run as tight as the last couple shows I've seen of theirs lately.

The following week, I broke my toe and tore a ligament. That was Christmas eve. That shit there hurt!! I got a few days off out of it so why not go down to the city to hear some blues, right?
I did after a couple of days of pain and healing. I went to the Saloon on Thursday night to hear some Steve Freund. I love going down there on the weeknights best but gettin' up at 4am kind of puts a damper on that.
I must say that that was the best I've heard Freund in a while. it was a trio, Steve, Burton Winn on bass and Robi bean on drums. What a trio it was!! Most times, he'll start out a trio in the first set and then start inviting people up but not on this night....no siree! it was nuthin' but Freund....Freund....Freund....lettin us have it on that guitar. He was absolutely killing me on that thing although I'm still alive. I couldn't do much dancing and jumping's around and that was hard. What an incredible night by Steve Freund. the guy really puts himself out there these days, and takes all sorts of risks and man....do they ever pay off. To my ears anyway.
Thank You, Steve!

The following night, a Friday, I went to the Forsetville Club to hear Eric Lindell. I hadn't seen him in years. I was most curious to hear his new sound from old days of the Reds and he's since then signed on to Alligator Records and doing some touring, lived in New Orleans for awhile, so all of those things told me, "Mo, go check him out". Besides, I was tired of hangin' out at the house.
He's sounds really good these days.
He had a guitarist by the name of Marc Ford with him and this guy was awesome!!! he and Eric were both awesome. They play off each other well without crowding the each other. I loved the sound, plenty of blues and I have to admit, I was quite skeptical. Sure, some of his stuff has that reggae/world beat flavor but he always brings it back to the blues. Yep, plenty of it. Highly danceable stuff too.
Yes indeed, it's good to see Eric doin' good for himself.

I left there after a set and headed towrds home but decided to make a quick stop at Spanky's in Cotati to hear some Levi Lloyd.
I walked in and the joint reeked of stale beer. I've never smelled it that strong in there before. It was a bit much.
Levi was sounding good. It was a nice set of Levi & his second guitarist, Jeff, trading it off. Mostly though, it was Levi. He really puttin' it out for the small and mostly inattentive crowd.

I guess I should've stayed at Eric's show but I was wanting to get home anyway.
Across the street at tradewinds was....that's right....DJ night. Yep, DJ on a Friday night. That was a sad sight.

The following night, (yep, three in a row) was Daniel Castro at the Last Day Saloon.
Oh my god!!!
This was anight NOT to be missed!! T. Moran was with him on drums (Thank you, Jesus ;-) and
Glade Rasmussen on bass. Mike Emerson was not with him, and missed, but you know what.....?
This guy Billy Hancock is phenomenal!! A keeper for sure. What a sound. I just love that traditional blues piano sound. He just held it real steady and built off the band and backed Danny beautifully. What a fine, fine player.
I felt I was being worked over and it felt great!
It was like going to church too. Daniel's shows are always like that for me anyway. that's why I love just a whole night of nuthin' but Daniel and band. No jams, no sit-in's, just Daniel. I always feel refreshed and rejuvenated after a good night of Daniel Castro.
Thanks Gang!!
Did I mention that guy named Billy Hancock? Oh my.....
A whole two long sets of power house blues. What broken toe??
A pretty decent crowd, a very appreciative too, and the floor was full of dancers.
What a great way to start the New Year!

So, there it is....all caught up now.
Besides all the bluesin, I've had much goin' on around here. I'm really enjoying my adult children and just hangin' out with them while I have the chance. The soldier boy is doin' well, seems emotionally sound, doesn't complain about nuthin', and is just happy to be home.
I asked him if he missed his M-16 and he said that is the hardest thing to get used to so far.
Shoot...I can imagine after eating, sleeping, and shitting with that thing for 15 months, one would feel a little vulnerable and defenseless when it's taken away. I tried to get him a toy one for Christmas as a joke but hell....I can't find a toy gun no where!!
He's stateside for a least a year and then he'll probably do one more tour before getting out. I'm thinking next time...Pakistan??

So, I got an ipod for Christmas. I knew it was time for one at work when my partner and I got into a disagreement about the music at work. Sure, I play blues a lot. Shoot, no one else puts anything on the player there. I get tired of trying to make everyone happy playing DJ and playing crap I really don't want to hear, so we hear more blues than most there want to hear. My partner says to me not so long ago, he said, "Mo, you've got your head so far up the ass of the blues, you don't see nothin' else!"
At first I got upset and then I thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was a compliment, I guess.
So, I have an ipod now loaded with nuthin' but the blues baby! Still not full yet but it will be.
It is so cool because I can hear stuff I've never heard before in a song that I've heard hundreds of times. Lots of details that I miss on my crappy sound system at home and in the car. Nice head phones I purchased separately, very convenient by just putting it in my pocket, and better yet....I can tune the world out. Maybe that's not healthy but it works for me and keeps me out of trouble there.

Man, did I ramble on!
Thanks for listenin' if you made this far.
Have a great New Year and see ya on the blues trail......


Posted by Mo at January 6, 2008 05:51 PM


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