Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Weekend Activities

The Sheiks Of R&B

Saturday night, I went down to the Mojo Lounge and caught a set and a half of the Sheiks Of R&B. The Sheiks consist of Jerome Engelberts, J.B. Davis and Luke Piro. The put on a very enjoyable show consisting of some rather obscure blues and R&B tunes. They were joined by a pair of saxophone players from San Francisco, Ray and Skip.

Me @ The Bistro
Dave Walker Blues Jam @ The Bistro

Sunday, I dropped in on the Dave Walker Band at the Bistro. When I arrived, the jam was already underway. I stopped to talk to Scott "Phil Harmonica" Hickman outside. Greg Greenspan and Ryan Eric were already onstage with the band. After getting to see one song, they took a break. After the break, I played a few of tunes with Dave and his band. It was a good time.

"Thanks to Ryan Cohen for the photo.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Photos For October & November


Here are some photos from the Mojo Lounge during the month of October and November.

John Nemeth, Scott Duncan, Dick, Kid Andersen, Greg Greenspan, Tre', RJ Mischo, Kedar Roy, Dennis Briggs, Freddie Roulette, Aki, Bob Welsh, Gil Leon, Tom (from the Buzzy Dupree Blues Band), Ryan Eric, Felix Bannon, Arthur Daugherty, Gary Smith and Chris Brown.

The URL is: 2005: A Year in Progress.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 11/22

John Nemeth

Last night, it was time for another installment of RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam. RJ Mischo was absent on an evening's hiatus. Replacing him for the evening was the captivating John Nemeth.

I arrived early at the Mojo Lounge. It was sort of a weird vibe. There were a lot of new faces in the audience. Most of them were musician. Many of them appeared to 1980 rocker-type guys.

Joining John on stage for the first set of the evening was the powerhouse rhythm section of Marc Carino and Hans Bosse'. Noticably absent was the Norwegian Heartthrob, Chris "Kid" Andersen. Don Yonder displayed some excellent guitar work in his absence. After about six or seven great postwar Chicago-stlye blues made famous by Junior Wells, Jimmy Rogers, and Otis Rush, John called a pair of saxophone players to the stage named Chip (or Skip) and Ray for a couple of songs.

The band took a short break.

After the break, John began calling guests to the stage and the evening's festivities were in full swing. First up, were a fine guitarist and vocalist named Tre', guitarist Ryan Eric, bass player Wild Bill Pruitt and harp player Aki. I can't remember the drummer. It wouldn't be the first thing from the evening that I would forget. These guys played about four or five songs. The highlight of their set was a fine version of the Eddie Boyd classic, "Five Long Years."

The band took a short break.

The next set took a while to pull together. When he started calling names, it had super loud rock and roll written all over it. John called up legendary Bay Area rock jam hosts, Art and Rhonda, drummer E-Rock and a bass player that I had never seen before. I was getting ready to take a hearing break, when I heard John call my name. My expectations were really low, since I knew that these guys have been hosting rock jams for years. Let's just say that I had a really good time playing with these guys. Rhonda covered "You Can Have My Husband" and the Freddy King classic, "Goin' Down." Art sang the often done Jimi Hendrix hit, "Red House". Based on the audience reaction, it was very well received. It was a lot of fun.

John switched things around for the next band. He called up Kid Andersen, harp blower Greg Greenspan, bass player Carl Green and drummer Artie Chavez. John sang a couple of tunes with this band before calling up a female blues singer from Australia named Armelle. She sang a few tunes including Little Walter's "Mellow Down Easy" and "The Work Song".

The next band up consisted of guitar players Scott Duncan, Don Yonder, Carl Green and Artie Chavez. South Bay harp player Dick Smith joined the band for a couple of classic tunes.

Vocalist CC Cole sang a couple of very nice songs. Oakland Toby replaced Scott and Don on guitar. Freddie Roulette contributed some nice lap steel. James Reed came in a blew some harp demonstrating excellent tone. He stayed on to sing one with Kid Andersen joining for one final song.

This concluded another evening of mayhem and fun at World Famous Tuesday Night Blues Jam at the Mojo Lounge.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

John Nemeth @ The Poor House Bistro

I caught the first set of John Nemeth's performance at the Poor House Bistro on Friday night. The band consisted of Bob Welsh (guitar), Mike Phillips (bass) and Hans Bosse' (drums). There was some big event going on at the Arena. The place was packed.

The first set was awesome. John sounded as excellent as he always does. His vocals were great. His deep toned harmonica playing accompanied his choice of material perfectly. The material ranged from classic 50's Chicago Blues to some of his own compositions.

I chatted briefly with Mr. Nemeth during the break. It had been a few months, since I last saw him. It was nice to catch up with him. He recently completed a tour of Mississippi and the deep South. He's been on the road quite a bit lately. According to his website, he should be around for the next couple of weeks. I hope to get the opportunity to check him out again.

He was kind enough to invite me to sit in, but I had to decline. My youngest daughters were getting kind of tired and creeped out by the group of people clad in black habits. If they had been nuns, it might not have been creepy. These folks were headed to the Depeche Mode concert at the Arena. The combination of unnaturally brightly colored hair along with dog collars proved to be a bit much for a pair of 4 year olds. We decided to cut out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 11/15 Edition

Jesse Brown

Last night, I head down to the Mojo Lounge with the intention of having a beer and checking out R.J. Mischo's first set. The plan was to go home early and get to bed at a decent hour. Needless to say, things didn't go as planned and I ended up hanging out until the evening's music came to a conclusion.

I arrived a little bit late. RJ and the band were already going strong. The tables in front of the stage were crammed with people, so I grabbed a seat at the back of the bar. The house band for the evening was: Chris "Kid" Andersen, Marc Carino and Hans Bosse. Joining the band for the first set was guitarist, Kenny "Blue" Ray. RJ played a four or five tunes prior to turning over the bandstand to Kid Andersen and Kenny "Blue" Ray for a couple of really nice guitar instrumentals. The interplay between the two guitar players was really great. Classic postwar Texas-influenced blues.

The first guests called to the stage were Don Yonder and me. RJ sang a really nice Sonny Boy Williamson tune and a swamp-infused composition of his own. He asked singer, Jesse Brown to the stage. Jessie sang a superlative version of what was once called, ""Everyone's Favorite Bobby Bland Song"", "Stormy Monday". It was a fabulous time playing with these guys. It was a boatload of fun.

There was a short musical break.

RJ kicked off the second set with Kid Andersen and a student of Kenny "Blue" Ray's named, Matt. Matt displayed some fabulous guitar work on several tunes. Eventually, he swapped spots with Ryan Eric. RJ turned over the microphone to Phil Berkowitz of the High Rollers. Phil sang a great version of the Willie Mabon classic, "Poison Ivy" followed by a very nice version of the Big Walter Horton chestnut, "La Cucaracha", before concluding with a very obscure Muddy Waters tune, "Deep Down In My Heart." RJ rejoined the festivities and replaced all of the guitar players with two players that I hadn't seen before. After a few tunes,

There was a short musical break.

For the last set, RJ called the NC Blues Connection to the stage. This band consists of some fine artists including Jesse Brown, Wild Bill Pruitt and a couple of fabulous guitar players. They began the last set of music with an excellent version of the Temptations classic, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", which was followed by the performance of the evening. The George Jackson classic made famous by the late Johnnie Taylor, "My Last Two Dollars." That song really showcased some excellent guitar work that isn't heard too often outside of the Deep South and the amazing vocals of Jesse Brown. They played a couple more tunes before:

There was a short musical break.

RJ asked the house band and Don Yonder back to the stage and turned over the stage to Arthur Daugherty of the Swamp Coolers. He performed a few tunes and displayed some excellent acoustic harmonica tone on several tunes, before transferring vocal and harmonica chores to Mr Mojo Madness,James Reed. The Mojo Man sang three love songs.

There was a short musical break.

Technically, the music and the evening of fun concluded. Afterward, I had the opportunity to briefly talk to Mr. Reed about the debut of his new website featuring an entire line of Mojo Madness merchandise which is just in time for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dave Walker's Blues Jam @ The Bistro

I had an interesting Sunday evening. I went to the blues jam at The Bistro in Hayward hosted by Dave Walker, except that Dave Walker wasn't there. The bar was almost pitch black. There were a couple of lights illuminated the bandstand and amplifiers were working, so someone was paying the electric bill.

The five piece band consisting of guitar, bass, drums, saxophone and key was playing blues, so I hung out for a bit. Of course, I showed up one song before the band decided to take a break. One of the keyboard players had brought a little dog into the bar. It was huddled under one of the bar stools shaking. That sort of thing seems like animal cruelty.

Guitarist Don Yonder showed up and sat in with the band. There was another harp player that I had never seen before. He connected some sort of pre-amp or amp simulator to the PA. He sounded pretty good, but I sort of felt sorry for him. It took him three songs to get dialed in and all he got was three songs. He didn't really get a chance to be heard.

The jam host asked him if I could use his setup. I felt sort of relieved as he exited the stage, he took his stuff. I plugged a microphone directly into the PA and I realized his sound challenge. Only one PA speaker was working. The bass player, Andrew G sang a tune. Don sang sang a very nice version of the Sonny Boy Williamson classic, "Help Me" and Andrew sang a Slim Harpo tune. About ten minutes later, it was in the book.

Hayward and The Bistro have kind of a weird vibe, but it was pretty fun. When the music was concluded, the bass player told me he liked what he could hear. He asked me to come back in a couple of weeks and bring an amplifier. I may be going back.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Steve Freund @ The Poor House Bistro

Last night, I headed down to the Poor House Bistro to catch Steve Freund and his fabulous band. Due to a traffic problem in Fremont, I arrived with two song left in the first set. I was lucky when I walked in a found a table close to the bandstand. The place was packed with musicians.

A partial roll call included: Steve Freund, Robi Bean, Scott Brenton, Kedar Roy, Jimmy Dewrance, Gil Leon, Bob Welsh, Hans Bosse, Suzy Tyler, Eddie Mac and Artie Chavez.

The Poor House Bistro has a really nice vibe going. During the breaks, the lack of an incredibly loud jukebox makes the environment conducive to conversation. The food is great and the drinks are cheap. Where else can you relive your early 20's drinking ultra-cheap pints of Pabst Blue Ribbon? For those not into cheap beers, they also have an excellent selection of other libations available at a nominal cost.

Enough of the commercial. During the breaks, I got to socialize with a number of people that I don't get to see too often.

I would have to say that Steve's band is probably one of the tightest units in the Bay Area. It's obvious that Steve, Robi Bean and Scott Brenton work togther quite often. They've play well off of each other. The addition of Kedar Roy propelled the rhythm section quite nicely.

Steve made several new fans last night. During the second set, he sang a real tear jerker called, "Let Me Down Easy." It was a very emotional and intense tune that melted the ice surrounding the coldest heart. For me, that may have been the musical highlight of a very awesome evening.

Suzy Tyler and Eddie Mac joined Steve on several numbers. I've had the good fortune to hear them on several occasions and last night's performance may have been the best yet. They were on and sounding fantastic. During the third set, Bob Welsh, Hans Bosse and I sat in on a few classic Chicago Blues tunes.

If you were there, you had a great time. If you weren't there, you missed a great time.

Monday, November 7, 2005

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 11/01 Edition

Last Tuesday night, I stopped by RJ Mischo's World Famous Tuesday Night Blues Jam hosted at the infamous Mojo Lounge.

It was a great evening. I arrived early and brought my little amp down there for a test run. RJ set it up front and center. After he got it all set up with his delay pedal, it sounded absolutely fabulous.

RJ shook up the normal mix by having some different faces on the bandstand at the beginning of the evening. Kenny "Blue" Ray, Kedar Roy and June Core rounded out the band. RJ started the evening's festivities with a couple of fabulous Little Walter-influenced instrumentals.

After a fabulous first set, RJ brought J.C. Smith up to the bandstand. He sang a few tunes before being joined onstage by Aki Kumar They really played well off of each other.

After that, the rest of the night was a blur to me. There were a zillion harmonica players and drummers in the house. RJ called me up and I played a tune with him and the guys. He brought up Stan Erhart and Norm Decarlo. Stan sang a very nice version of "Serves Me Right To Suffer."

James Reed of Mojo Madness did a couple of tunes. He called me up to join him. Once, we got some communication difficulties out of the way, we had some fun trading solos on a Howlin' Wolf number.

Maxx Cabello played a couple of tunes with Freddie Roulette. The Buzzy Dupree Band played three or four tunes before Arthur Daugherty closed out the evening with Kenny "Blue" Ray.