Wednesday, December 7, 2005

It's All About The Lumps

Carl Weathersby & Magic Slim

Early Sunday afternoon, I hit the ground running. I was headed to the Horseman's Club in Sacramento to see a fabulous show with a lineup that would put most so-called Blues Festivals to shame. Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, Phil Guy, Carl Weathersby and Magic Slim & the Teardrops. While enroute, I stopped to pick up Don Yonder to ensure that he received a proper education South Side-style.

We were cruising along the freeway traveling at a high rate of speed. We were making excellent time when we were passed by a big blue van with Illinois plates that was loaded to the rafters with musical equipment. This is now the second time that I've been passed on a California freeway by Magic Slim and the Teardrops. We followed them up to Sacramento and we continued on to the Horseman's Club.

When we arrived, I thought we were in the wrong place. It's a hall in a real rural setting. There was a sign that simply read, "Fest." There was a long line. The only indication that we were in the right place were some familiar faces in the crowd that made the two hour trek from the Bay Area to Sacramento for this show.

It was well worth the four and a half hours in the car.

Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne opened the show with a righteous band consisting of David "Hurricane" Hoerl (harmonica), Takezo (guitar), Paul Olguin (bass), and Rick Sankey (drums). This was a very nice, but very abbreviated set. Kenny tickled the ivories on several tunes and proved that he is one of the last members of the old school piano players. He also switched things around a bit on his keyboard making his instrument sound like an organ or a scat singer. It was very cool. Dave Hoerl blew some very fine harmonica. Takezo added a couple of very tasteful guitar solos.

After about 30 minutes, Phil Guy stepped onto the stage with a white Telecaster that he would torture for the next hour or so. He worked through a couple tunes out of the Z.Z. Hill songbook including, "Open House At My House" and "Someone Else Is Steppin' In". He tore into one classic Chicago Blues tune after another. He opened each tune with an extended guitar solo to set the tempo and groove of the song. The band just followed him along like soldiers into battle. The tone coming out of his guitar stung to the core like ice water on a tooth with an exposed nerve. It was a lesson in pure unfiltered Blues from Chicago's South Side. He closed out his set with a fantastic version of Buddy Guy's, "Stone Crazy".

During a brief break, Omar Shariff took to the keyboards and played a couple of nice Christmas Blues tunes. From the weather and the heat generated in the hall, you wouldn't have known it was the Christmas season. These tunes were a nice reminder that the holiday season is upon us.

It seemed like a good time to grab a beer and something to eat. Six bucks. What a great deal! The link was excellent and there were several choices of high quality libations to ensure proper hydration.

Next up was Carl Weathersby. He was backed by Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne and company. Takezo left the stage and Phil Guy played rhythm guitar. This was an excellent set. He tore through a bunch of classic Chicago Blues while mixing in a few Albert King and Howlin' Wolf songs. His guitar playing was tasteful and incredibly intense much like Albert King. Pure raw emotion and feeling is transferred from his fingertips through his guitar. Carl Weathersby is the present and future of the Blues. His set raised the bar to an almost incomprehensible level.

It was hot in the hall, so I headed outside during the break. I talked to Carl and Guitar Mac briefly. I got a couple of quick and dirty lessons on blues theory. Magic Slim overheard one of the conversations and they started shooting the breeze about old times in the clubs in Chicago about twenty years ago. They gave each other friendly crap. They talked about bluesmen past and present. They reminisced about guys like Lefty Dizz. It was something that I'll never forget.

Next up was Magic Slim & the Teardrops. What can someone say about Magic Slim that hasn't been said already? The guy is simply great. His Blues are very traditional and old school. His guitar tone is indescribable. It's very heavy and it leaves a long lasting impression. It's sort of like getting hit in the head with sledgehammer. When you experience it, you aren't going to forget it anytime soon and it's not likely to be like anything that you've ever felt before.

During one of his opening tunes, Carl Weathersby was watching Magic Slim with a great deal of admiration. He looks at me and said something like, "that guitar that Slim is playing is a Fender Jazzmaster. Most people feel that guitar was never capable of anything great. Those people never heard Magic Slim play it." Slim ripped through one shuffle after another. The intensity level just kept creeping up.

He asked Carl to join him on the stage and the intensity level broke the meter. The two of them traded solo after solo. They exchanged vocal duties each taking a verse or two in each song. They kept raising the bar and you could tell they were feeding off the energy of each other. At the end of the set, Carl said to Slim, "That was like old times, wasn't it Slim."

I stopped to talk with a few friends about the show before it was time to head further on up the road. For the third time this weekend I would say, "this may have been the best show that I've seen all year long."

Before leaving, I went outside to say good bye to Carl. As I was leaving, he walked up to Magic Slim and said, "Damn Slim! I haven't lumped that hard in years."

Slim responded, "I told you, man! It's all about the lumps."

No comments: