Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Weekend Report

R.J. Mischo

Man, what a great weekend!

Steve Freund @ The Mojo Lounge

The weekend started off on a really high note. Friday night, Steve Freund was playing in Fremont at the Mojo Lounge. Steve is a slice of Chicago that has been transported to the West Coast. He is true to the tradition of the greats that came before him. Steve is true bluesman.

He's a very deep player and a human jukebox. It isn't uncommon to hear him mix in tunes from the Bluebird-era artists like Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy. He'll also toss in some material from more contemporary artists like Paul Butterfield or Peter Green. During the course of his shows, the listener will travel through the history of 20th Century blues.

Steve's band consists of some of the best players in the Bay Area. Scott Brenton provides some very good rhythm guitar work and delivers some razor sharp guitar work that cut to the bone. His guitar playing just keeps getting better and better. He is also a very nasty harp player. He's got phenomenal tone and a style that is reminiscent of Big Walter Horton.

Burton Winn and Robi Bean put in place a fabulous groove and keep time like a Rolex watch. Robi had a nasty case of the flu. By the time it was said and done at the Mojo, he and Burton had played for over eight hours. If they were tired or sick, it didn't show. They looked like they were having a great time and the music was fantastic.

There was nothing being played but the finest in blues. In addition to several of Steve's original tunes, he mixed in some material from Little Milton, Detroit Junior and Albert King.

In the third set, he invited me to play a few songs with his band. That was a real treat for me. It's always a good time to play with Steve and his band. He's a very gracious host and I really appreciate the opportunity.

RJ Mischo @ The San Jose Jazz Festival

After Friday night's festivities, I had a rough time getting out of bed. Fortunately, the opening of the San Jose Jazz Festival didn't start until 1:00pm. RJ Mischo and his Red Hot Band were the opening act in Blues Alley at the San Jose Jazz Festival.

RJ's band consisted of Bob Welsh, Vance Ehlers and Hans Bosse. Since, I've been seeing these guys so much in more intimate club settings, it was sort of weird seeing them on the big stage. They started off the set with some very mellow numbers of gradually built up the level of intensityas their set progressed. They finished off their great set with Snooky Pryor's Pitch a Boogie Woogie.

By the end of their set, it was really crowded. There were a lot of people dancing and milling around. They sold a bunch of CD's. By the end of the show, there were none left.

Lunch @ The Poor House Bistro

The family and I cut out to grab some non-festival type grub. We walked over to the Poor House Bistro for some great Cajun food and dirt cheap beers. We talked to the owner for a bit. He's a really nice guy. It's a nice place run by some nice peoplethat serves some great food! It's worth checking out. They've got live Blues on the patio on Friday evenings. They also have music at other times. Check their web site for details.

Lara Price @ The San Jose Jazz Festival

After a fine lunch, we caught the tail end of Lara Price and Laura Chavez's performance. The music was good. Lara Price is a good singer with a deep voice. There were a ton of people on the street and near the stage. It was really hot with all of the energy being dissipated by the crowd of dancers, so I snapped a few photos and decided to get out of the crowd. As we were leaving, I saw a woman passed out on the side of the street. After reporting it to the authorities, I disappeared into the crowd.

Nick Moss @ The San Jose Jazz Festival

Nick Moss & The Flip Tops started off the festivities on Sunday afternoon. From the first note to the final one, all I could say was "Dayum!" The sounds were pure Chicago influenced by departed legends such as Muddy Waters and modern day legends like Magic Slim and the Teardrops. It was just one high energy tune after the next. It was pure Chicago.

The amount of versatility in that band is nothing short of amazing. Piano Willie sang a few numbers, played the piano and switched over to the bass for a bit. Gerry Hundt started out playing the bass before playing the harp and guitar. Bob Welsh, who had playing the previous day with R.J. Mischo, sat in on bass for a few tunes.

Between this set and Steve Freund's great show on Friday night, I was feeling really homesick for Chicago.

Ron Thompson @ The San Jose Jazz Festival

During the break, we wandered around the festival grounds and let the kids tear up the festival grounds. We made it back to Blues Alley just as Ron Thompson and the Resistors were starting up a smokin' hot set. The crowd got to be too big. There was no place to sit or stand with a decent view of the stage, so we cut out as he was winding up one of his very high energy performances.

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