Sunday, June 26, 2005

R.J. Mischo's Blues-O-Rama

Little Junior Crudup

This past Saturday night (June 25) the Mojo Lounge celebrated their second anniversary by presenting a Blues extravaganza that rivaled many blues festivals. The first band of the evening was the Willie G Blues Revue. I arrived during the middle of their second set. When I walked in Don Yonder was singing a very nice version of Sonny Boy Williamson's, Help Me. After Don finished up, he brought Pork Pie Phillips. Pork Pie is an excellent singer and he ripped through a couple of great tunes. As is customary, shortly after I arrived, the band took a break.

During the break, I ran into friends and met several members of the Yahoo! Bay Area Blues Group. After a short break, the band started up again with the great Willie G. He sang a couple of fabulous tunes before inviting the Blue Eyed Queen of Soul, C.C. Cole to the stage. She tore through a couple of soul-soaked tunes and returned the microphone to Willie G. He concluded the first show of the evening by getting everyone up on the dance floor for a fantastic version of James Brown's Sex Machine.

The second show of the evening started shortly afterward and it was a very tough act to follow. R.J. Mischo presented his Blues-O-Rama. It was an epic journey of Blues history starting from the deep South, traveling North to Chicago and ending up on the West Coast. He kicked off the show with an excellent rendition of The Creeper. A couple of songs into the first set, he tore the cover off the ball with a fabulous George Smith chromatic harmonica instrumental. That tune alone was well worth the admission fee. The members of the Red Hot Band included: Justin McCarthy, Marcus Carino and Hans Bosse.

After a couple of songs, R.J. brought up his first guest of the evening. Little Junior Crudup. Junior is an old school entertainer. His family is deeply schooled in the blues tradition. HIs uncle was the legendary Big Boy Crudup. Junior doesn't need to rely on his family history. His singing proves that he is one bad ass Blues singer. After singing three numbers that tore the house down to it's foundation, Junior stepped down and turned the stage over to Steve Gannon and Craig Horton.

Craig Horton is a fantastic singer and guitar player. He grew up in Arkansas and made the trek to Chicago prior to settling in Oakland. He has performed with such blues legends as Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Otis Rush, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Freddie King. He sang some excellent tunes from both of his fine CD's on Bad Daddy Records.

The second set followed the same type of format, but R.J. brought up some additional guests artists. Sid Morris joined the band and tickled the ivories for the second set. R.J. also brought Screamin' Ian up to the stage and he blew an excellent harp solo that was reminiscent of Big Walter Horton. He had a full rich tone that really complemented Craig Horton's excellent vocals.

For the last few numbers, R.J. had a couple of regulars from his Tuesday night jam join the band. Don Yonder and me. One additional new face belonged to a blues singer from New York named Blue Rice. He sang a pretty nice rendition of Down Home Blues. He also sang "everybody's favorite Bobby Bland song," Stormy Monday Blues. For the evening's closing tune, Dennis Briggs sang the old Junior Parker chestnut, "Next Time You See Me." Overall, it was a great eight or nine hours of Blues.

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