Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Final Mojo Lounge Jam Report of 2006

Last night at the Mojo Lounge was the final Tuesday night celebration of the World Famous Tuesday Night Blues Jam for 2006. RJ was still in absentia. Steve Freund with his fabulous trio was in the packed house to ensure high quality entertainment for everyone's drinking and dancing pleasure. The state of the art dance floor was full for much of the evening as Steve, Marcus Carino and Robi Bean provided nothing but the low down Blues from Chicago and all points South.

The number of guests were small, but the quality of entertainment was high. People gracing the stage during the course of the evening were Don Yonders, Barrelhouse Solly, Scott Miller, Mark Irwin, John Graham, E-Rock, East Bay Wes, Junior Morrow and me.

It was an enjoyable experience and a fabulous way to end 2006. Just before the Mojo Lounge started featuring Blues music in 2004, I ran into RJ who was living in Fremont at the time. RJ and I had met several years earlier, when I was shooting photos for the fine folks at Mountain Top Productions. He mentioned that he was going to start up a Blues jam at the Mojo Lounge. He was hoping to move some of the Bay Area Blues scene to Fremont. In almost three years, RJ and the Mojo Lounge has created a fantastic jam which has spread via word of mouth around the globe. People have dropped in from all over the world. The only thing they have in common is love for the music. I think that RJ, his substitute hosts and the Mojo Lounge have been in achieving that goal.

This year I had the opportunity to play music with some fabulous artists and performers down at the Mojo Lounge during the Tuesday night jam including:

Kid Anderson, Amy Lou, Eddie B, Barrelhouse Solly, Robi Bean, Phil Berkowitz, Randy Bermudes, Birdlegg, Hans Bosse, Chris Brown, Marcus Carino, Johnny Cat, Artie Chavez, June Core, Little Junior Crudup, JB Davis, Norm Decarlo, Wendy Dewitt, Marty Dodson, Dennis Dove, Double G, East Bay Wes, Ray Figueroa, Steve Freund, John Graham, Jon Lawton, RJ Mischo, Scott Miller, Junior Morrow, John Nemeth, Mike Phillips, Pork Pie Phillips, Kenny Blue Ray, James Reed, Freddie Roulette, Kedar Roy, Mike Schermer, Bob Welsh and Don Yonders. I know there are a bunch of people that I've forgotten to add to the list. I am sorry if I forgot anyone.

When you add this list to the people from 2004 and 2005, it's pretty impressive. No matter how good or bad the results may have been, most of the people have been extremely cool and very supportive. It's made me really glad that I got suckered into playing again after a really long hiatus.

It's positively unique and it's been a great deal of fun.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Lockwood Junior

Robert Lockwood Jr.

Robert Jr passed away. Robert Jr was a true innovator. His impact on Blues and popular music may never be truly measured. He was one of
the most amazing and innovative Blues men of modern time. His impact of modern day Blues goes unnoticed. He style was subtle and laid the foundation for the generation that followed.

He was in Arkansas and was an influence on BB King. He was in Chicago during the time that the post war style was being defined. He and Louis Myers set the standard on how to back harmonica players. He was an integral part of Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson's classic Chess recordings.

He had several classic recordings of his own. He was an influence on a multitude of guitar players. He combined great tone and technique. He wasn't an in-your-face flashy kind of guy like many current crop of rock-influenced guitar players. He was simply great!

I consider myself fortunate to have seen him several times. The first time was in Chicago. He was playing his 12 string electric and was being backed by the Aces. Louis Myers, Dave Myers and Fred Below. It was an awesome evening of music. The interplay between Robert Jr and Louis was nothing short of incredible.

Another time that stood out was at the old Yoshi's in Oakland. He was billed on the show with Jimmy Rogers. He ended up playing a solo set of old time Blues. He mixed in some Robert Johnson material with some of his own classic recordings. I thought it was amazing how one guy could captivate an audience and steal the show. It was a fabulous evening of music that touched the sould and could best be described as intimate.

Several years ago, the Chicago Blues Festival featured members of the blues community that were born in 1915. There were still a few people around from that time. Sadly, there aren't many people left from his generation. Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins and Homesick James may be the only ones left.

It's likely that he will never receive the credit or recognition that he is due. While I have a great deal of respect of Robert Johnson, I find it sad that his short period of time with the legend eclipsed an amazing, powerful and influential career. Robert Jr was one of the greatest guitar players that I've ever seen.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Good Old Days

During the past several months, some fabulous talent has left us. Snooky Pryor, Johnny Dollar, Bonnie Lee, Willie Kent and other fabulous performers that I was fortunate to see during the 1980's. I was reminiscing some friends of mins about some of the old shows.

Here are some brief excerpts:

First Exposure: My first exposure to Blues was around 1980 or 1981. The University of Illinois in Chicago ran a blues series. Each week for ten weeks, they featured a different local band. Up to that point, I thought Blues was 50's music, i.e. oldies. One of the bands that performed was Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues feauturing Lurrie Bell. That band was a bunch of young guys playing some really, really tough music.

The next week was Eddie Clearwater. He walked out on stage with that big Indian headdress and played some vicious West side Chicago Blues. I think Koko Taylor and Son Seals did shows there, too. Later that summer, I hit Chicagofest and saw performances by Eddie Taylor, Luther Allison and Muddy Waters. I don't think that I've listened to much popular music since.

The Bar Scene: I didn't start going to bars until around 1982. I started seeing some amazing performers. Some like Sunnyland Slim, James Cotton and Junior Wells were well known. Other fantastic artists like: Valerie Wellington, Robert Covington, Johnny Dollar and Lefty Dizz didn't achieve the recognition they were due, but they were monster talents.

Hubert Sumlin: Back in the mid 80's, he used to work at the Kingston Mines with Chico Chism almost every week. Looking back on those days, I sort of took those guys for granted. Those were some great shows. Everyone knows about his great work with Howlin' Wolf.

His work with Howlin' Wolf was breathtaking. His recordings with Sunnyland Slim and Little Mac Simmons are incredible. His work under his own name is great, too. Hubert Sumlin is one of those guys whose influence on American music is under appreciated and under recognized.

James Cotton: During the mid 80's, James Cotton played at Biddy Mulligan's and around the city with his big band featuring Michael Coleman and a full horn section. Those performance were legendary and one of them was captured by Alligator Records.

James Cotton also used to pull together a really cool show on Christmas day at Wise Fool's Pub. He teaming up with Pinetop Perkins, Calvin Jones, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Sammy Lawhorn. That was a seriously bad ass line up and a great Christmas gift to the Blues community.

Mighty Joe Young: It was a weird night. I went with one of my co-workers. He was married with three kids. We were meeting his parents there. I arrived late and met up with them. When I arrived, my friend was there with his parents. He had also brought a date. It was odd considering he was married and hanging out with his parents.

Mighty Joe Young put on a show that was simply blistering. He was hot! In the audience was the legendary piano player, Little Brother Montgomery. He was elderly and very frail. He was assisted to the stage. Little Brother Montgomery played some great stuff. He was joined by a jazz harp player named Howard Levy.

Blue Chicago: Back 20 years ago, the first Blue Chicago club was on State Street. That club was my introduction to the vocal talents of the fabulous Barkin' Bill Smith. I can't remember who was playing guitar with him that night. I think it was either a very young Dave Specter or the infamous multi-talented Dave Clark. Little Richie Yescalis was playing the bass. He was one of the first people that I met on the Blues scene.

My last trip: My last trip to Chicago was a crazy one. My wife and I went to Artis's. Artis's is the home base for Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues. They have been holding down Monday nights there for well over 20 years. It's the longest running regular blues gig in Chicago.

Billy is one of (if not the) baddest harp player around. He's got a killer band. My last trip, he had a bunch of great guests sitting in that would have made a lineup for one helluva Blues festival including: Phil Guy, Tre', Ronnie Brooks, Russ Green and a couple of great local singers in the Tyrone Davis, Bobby Bland styles. The place was packed and they had a great turnout.

The people in the bar were really nice. They made us feel like we were at home. The bartenders were awesome. They made some killer mixed drinks and were very friendly.

The great JW Williams and the Chi-Town Hustlers were holding down Sunday nights for a long time. Now, Tre' & the Blue Nights are there. Tre' is a bad ass guitar player. His CD on Wolf Records is a really good one. He's also the son of the great L.V. Banks, who is an absolutely fabulous guitarist and singer.

That's more than enough for now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Snooky Pryor

Snooky Pryor

The legendary Snooky Pryor passed away today. He was one of the originators of amplifed blues harmonica, he also had some of the biggest and baddest tone I've ever heard live or on records. He was simply huge! A true legend. A one of a kind.

He recorded some great tunes in the 50's and was formative on the Chicago Blues scene. My favorite modern recordings that he did were for the Blind Pig label. I think that's the one with Steve Freund on it. It's a great album.

The first time that I ever saw him was at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz. Rusty Zinn and Scot Brenton were backing him up. Scot is an excellent player with some great tone. He and Snooky did a few tunes together. Scot hung in for a while, but Snooky Pryor just tore it up and I remember Scot and Rusty laughing and watching and listening to Snooky play.

The next time I saw him, I was on a business trip in Austin. I stayed over Friday night to catch him and Lazy Lester at Antone's. Snooky Pryor was jawdropping. His tone and technique was simply amazing. It was so powerful that it left a huge impression on me. I was sitting right in front of the Victoria Bassman that he was using. It was like a wall of heavy sound that washed over you. On his intro to Judgement Day, he hits a chord three times and it would resonate through your entire body. His tone and sound was amazing. He was one of those old school singers that had a powerfully loud and deep voice.

The last time I saw him was in Long Beach. He was onstage with Carey Bell, Sugar Blue, Billy Branch, Charlie Musselwhite and Billy Boy Arnold. He sounded fabulous and proved he was still one of the baddest players alive. He also demonstrated that he was the missing link between down home sounds of John Lee Williamson and the flashy, brash sound of Little Walter during his heyday. A lot of young harp players could really learn a lot from Snooky Pryor. He was a tough, tough player. Using one word to describe him, it would have to be:


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mile High City Trip

The lesson of the trip is always call ahead. Always!

My flight arrived on Sunday night at 8:30pm. I got my luggage and rental car and headed on down the road. I headed for Ziggie's Saloon. According to their website, they have a Sunday night Blues Jam which ran from 8:30 to 12:30. I arrived at about 9:30. The place was almost empty. There were about three people in the bar. The sign on the front of the bar said the jam ran from 5:00 to 9:00pm. So, I headed to the hotel.

Last week, I checked out the website for the Colorado Blues Society. There wasn't much going on Tuesday night. I hit one of the local bars. I checked their website last week. They had a calendar up, so I thought I would head there. There was almost no activity on the street and I accidently drove by the place. I turned around and realized why I missed the place. It was in a dark shopping center that had been fenced off. I headed back to the hotel and learned that the place had been closed last week. The building was being demolished and replaced with a WalMart.

The lesson is to always call ahead.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pork Pie Phillips

Pork Pie Phillips

Pork Pie Phillips was a really nice guy. He passed away after a battle with cancer.

I met him down at the Mojo Lounge a few years ago. I had the opportunity to play with him several times. He was always very kind and supportive. He was a blast to talk with about Blues, classic cars, clothing and all sorts of stuff. He was a really nice guy and a very good singer. He was also a very good songwriter who wrote some very funny songs.

The last time that I saw him was at Hayward/Russell City. He had been sick. He told me that he was going to have heart surgery that he said was routine. For a guy that was sick, you wouldn't have known it by his performance in the 100+ degree heat. He sounded as good as ever.

I'll miss him.

Here is a nice tribute in the Vallejo Times Herald.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Bonnie Lee

Bonnie Lee

Today, the world lost a tremendous blues singer and a fine lady.

Bonnie Lee was a great Blues singer. The first time I heard her was on the radio in Chicago in the early 1980's. There was a live concert broadcast from Biddy Mulligan's on WNIB. The host was long time Chicago radio personality, Big Bill Collins. Performing that evening were the Kinsey Brother, Sugar Blue, Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues/JW Williams & The Chitown Hustlers and Bonnie Lee. She was a powerhouse singer.

I didn't have to opportunity to see her perform until the mid 1990's when she accompanied Willie Kent to the Bay Area during the opening months of Blues on B in San Mateo. I went to several of those shows. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to her a few times. She was a really sweet lady with a tremendous voice that could be powerful and then soft and sensitive.

In 1997, she performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival. It was sort of a disappointment to me. She was billed as part of a package and performed only a couple of songs. When she departed the stage, she left the audience wanting more. It seemed crazy to fly her to California for a couple of songs, but it was great to see her perform.

One of the last times that I saw her perform was at a tribute to Muddy Waters at the Taste of Westmont in 1999. She was on the bill with several fabulous female Blues singers that were backed by Willie Kent's fine band. Bonnie Lee sounded great. She really delivered the goods.

Whenever I went back to Chicago, I always made sure to catch a Willie Kent show and it was a really nice bonus to see Bonnie Lee perform. She also has an excellent CD out on the Wolf label called "Queen of the Chicago Blues" and she made appearances on several other CD's. I was just listening to her Delmark CD last weekend and thought that she was really under-recorded and under-recognized. "Sweetheart of the Blues" is a fabulous CD.

I'm really going to miss seeing her. She really was the Sweetheart of the Blues!

Friday, September 1, 2006

Junior Wells

Junior Wells

Since being introduced to the blues while in college back in the early 80's, I had been fortunate enough to see Junior Wells perform several times prior to moving from Chicago to California in 1987. After relocating, I didn't get out to see many blues shows. In 1990, Junior was scheduled to play a one nighter at JJ's Blues Lounge in Mountain View and I knew it was a show that I couldn't miss.

The night of the show, my wife and I got there early so we could get a good seat. Gary Smith, a local harp player, opened the show with his band. They played the opening set.

During the break, Junior was pacing back and forth like a caged animal. Something was wrong. This seemed very out of character. Junior's regal presence transcended "cool". About twenty minutes later, Junior's band took the stage. The band consisted of two guitars, bass and drums. There was no horn section to be found. George Baze led a couple of songs and then called Junior up. For the next 45 minutes, Junior played traditional blues and blew a lot of harp. He played more harmonica than I had ever seen him play before. It was incredible. He put on one of the greatest shows I have ever seen.

At the next break, four guys walked in carrying black cases. It was the horn section, they had accidently driven to JJ's in San Jose about 15 or 20 miles away by mistake. Junior looked pretty upset with them. I thought Junior was going to kill them and from the looks on their faces, they were thinking the same. The next set featured Junior more soul-based material. I enjoyed this side of Junior, but it was really nice to have been able to see him in the more traditional setting. That is a show that I will never forget.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Making The Rounds - Part 3

I went to the RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam at the Mojo Lounge. It was a fabulous evening. RJ had Mighty Mike Schermer, Marc Carino and June Core in attendance. They played a fabulous first set before bringing up some fabulous singers.

Little Junior Crudup was in the house and sang a few songs. The place was packed and he really worked up the crowd. Birdlegg followed him (w/ Don Yonder on guitar) after a short break. Freddie Roulette dropped in and was sounding great. There were a number of performers and RJ was able to get everyone up on stage. JB Davis, Eddie B, and Chris Brown got up. There are a bunch of others people that played. I can't remember all of their names.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Making The Rounds - Part 2

I did something very rare for me. I went down to the jam at Murphy's Law in Sunnyvale. It had been a while since I had seen Dennis Dove and Mike Phillips. The smokin' hot Miller Girls were in attendance. When I walked in Rusty Sterling was being called to the stage. He lead a fine band of jammers. After a couple of tunes, Scott Miller and Russell Barber were called up to the stage to back LD. LD (of LD and Blues Redeption) is a fine harp player and singer. He plays some very nice traditional Chicago blues.

A fine singer named Leon replaced LD. I played a couple of songs with him, Scott Miller and Russell Barber. Jeff Ballard came up and did a few tunes. As always, it proved to be an interesting and action-packed evening.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Making The Rounds - Part 1

The infamous Double G and I hit the road and headed out to Half Moon Bay to see RJ Mischo and his Red Hot Blues Band at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. RJ had Anthony Paule, Vance Ehlers, Robi Bean and a sax player that I had never seen before. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we arrived a bit late, but still managed to catch a couple of groovy sets. There was a lot of drinking, dancing and carrying on.

After RJ concluded his fine show, we split and headed to the Old Princeton Landing hosted by the fabulous Stan Erhart. There were a bunch of familiar faces in the house including: Stan, Vince Caminiti, Norm Decarlo, Robert Gaustad, John Lull and other folks from the Redwood City Jam. It's was a really fun jam. Thanks to Robert for letting me use his fine Bassman for a couple of tunes.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sonny Rhodes in Downtown Oakland

The Home Grown Blues Series is a free concert series that has been happening on Wednesday evenings during July and August. They've had a pretty cool lineup but for some reason, I had always forgotten about it. I remembered it this week. It featured two bands, RJ Mischo and Sonny Rhodes.

It was a pretty cool vibe in downtown Oakland. Ninth Street was closed at Broadway. The band performed under a tent in the middle of the street. There were a number of chairs set up in the street. By the time that I arrived, all of the seats were taken.

I've seen RJ quite a bit lately. Chris "Kid" Andersen, Vance Ehlers and Hans Bosse were backing RJ. They sounded good together despite some early problems with the sound system.

While I was watching the show, Little Junior Crudup snuck up behind me and scared the crap out of me. We talked for a bit. It was nice to catch up with him. I hadn't seen him in a while. He's been busy working on some projects.

Little Junior Crudup & RJ Mischo

When RJ came off the bandstand, he walked over to shoot the breeze. I got the two of them to ham it up a bit while I snapped a couple of photos.

Next up was Sonny Rhodes. I didn't recognize him without his trademark turban. The soundman worked out the problems with the sound system and the second second was off and running like a thoroughbred. It had been a few years, since the last time that I saw Sonny Rhodes. I had almost forgotten how great he sounded.

Sonny Rhodes

During the middle of the show, he switched to his lap steel quitar and demonstrated some fantastic slide work as he ripped through several Elmore James songs.

It was starting to get late and the kids were getting hungry. After the show, we dropped into the Pizzeria SFO in Jack London's Square for some fantastic deep dish Chicago-style pizza before heading home.

It was a great night.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 08/15 Edition

Tuesday, I went to the Mojo Lounge. It was a pretty cool night. The house band was RJ Mischo, Kid Andersen, June Core, Marc Carino and Dave Bernstein. There were a multitude of guests including: Spencer Jarrett, Eddie Davis (from Fluffer), a bad-ass guitar player named Myron, John Nemeth, Don Yonders, Chris Brown, Art Daugherty and a
multitude of people that RJ didn't have time to call to the stage.

As usual, John Nemeth tore it up and set the bar super high. No one could top his fantastic performance.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sid Morris @ The Poor House Bistro

Sunday, my wife and oldest daughter were headed to the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert at the Arena. I took the two little ones for an early dinner at the Poor House Bistro. Sid Morris was performing. While it was listed as a jam, they had one guest. He was a younger guitar player that was quite good. It was a very nice low key and low volume performance. It's another great option for Sunday afternoon music that is kid friendly. Plus, the food is awesome!

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Commercial Shoot @ The Mojo Lounge

On August 8th, I went to the Mojo Lounge. There was a television commercial shoot going on. It was pretty cool. There were several guys with video cameras running around for a good portion of the evening. It was a lot of fun and it was pretty energizing.

RJ Mischo had a phenomenally cool lineup in the house band including: Bob Welsh, Johnny Cat, Marc Carino and June Core. They sounded great. After a 45 minute first set, RJ brought Barrelhouse Solly and me up to the stage. Having the video cameras around was a pretty weird vibe. We played a couple of tunes and the jam was officially started.

You can see the video here. It is a 1.5MB download.

Monday, August 7, 2006

The Week's Blues Report

Tommy Castro

"Sunday @ The Fremont Festival of the Arts"

Sunday afternoon, I went to the Fremont Festival of the Arts to kill some time. I caught Tommy Castro in action. His music is not really my thing, but the guy put on a pretty good show and his band is tight. Despite being on the bill as a blues artist, he's not really a blues performer. It was an okay show and it was free.

"Saturday @ The Fremont Festival of the Arts"

It was a veritable Blues Festival that wasn't in Fremont on Saturday. The Dave Land Band was billed as a blues band. They weren't a blues band. They played a couple of blues songs, but that was about it. It didn't sound like Blues. They don't seem to pretend to be a Blues band.

According to their website, "The band brings the familiar combination of Rock, Folk, Country and Blues to the table resulting in their unique Country Rock sound." It was an okay show and it was free.

Next up was Leroy Bell. The city also had these guys listed as a Blues band. I hung out for a few tunes by these guys. It didn't really sound like blues to me. The guy and his band are certainly talented. I'd like to say, ""It was an okay show and it was free,"" but I thought it was kind of boring. I left after a few songs.

Needless to say, I shouldn't have been surprised or disappointed. In years past, they booked former Y&T guitar god, Dave Meniketti. He was labelled as a Blues act. He isn't.

"Friday - RJ Mischo @ the Main Street Brewery"

I dragged my wife to the Main Street Brewery in Pleasanton. We were celebrating the birthday of Don Yonder's lovely wife. RJ Mischo was there with Kid Andersen, Kedar Roy and Hans Bosse. Excellent microbrews. The Double IPA was awesome. My good buddy, Don Yonders sat in on a couple of songs. I had a killer time.

"Wednesday - Steve Freund @ JJ's Blues Lounge"

Steve Freund and his fantastic band consisting of Robert Welsh, Tim Wagar and his excellency, Robi Bean. Sid Morris sat in on a couple of tunes. He had severalfabulous guests waiting in the wings to join him on stage. Unfortunately, I had to be at work pretty darn early the next day, so I had to split before the beginning of the final set.

JJ's Blues Lounge is a pretty cool club. It reminds me of bars on Western Avenue in Chicago.

"Tuesday - RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam"

RJ was on fire. The house band was Kid Andersen, Marc Carino and June Core. There were a ton of musical guests including: Johnny Cat, Don Yonders, Vince Caminiti, my fishing buddy Chris Brown, Scott Miller, LD (of LD and the Blues Crew), Double G, E-Rock, Tom and Frenchy from the Buzzy Dupree Band and others.

I had the opportunity to play a couple of tunes with Johnny Cat, LD, Frenchy and June. LD is a fine singer and harmonica player. It was a lot of fun as usual. RJ knows how to host a party.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Super Chikan @ The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

James "Super Chikan" Johnson

I dragged the family to the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company to see Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks. It was a great performance. I had forgotten about the Boom Boom Room show and was bummed out that I missed it. The Sunday night show was a gift from God.

James "Super Chikan" Johnson is a super talented guy. Who else can play a fabulous slide guitar on a three string instrument with a cigar box body and a pool cue neck? He's very funny and about as cordial as a person can be. Hopefully, he makes it out this way a bit more frequently.

Saturday Night Blues

Saturday night was a really cool night musically.

"RJ Mischo @ the Poor House Bistro"

I dragged my family to dine at the Poor House Bistro. They just happened to have RJ Mischo and company performing on the patio. The weather was nice. The food was great. The entertainment was excellent. Half the people in the audience were musicians or related to them. RJ, Chris Andersen, Kedar Roy and Hans Bosse put on a great show.

"Phil Berkowitx & The High Rollers @ The Mojo Lounge"

Later in the evening, I went to the Mojo Lounge to see Phil Berkowitz and the High Rollers. Attendance was sparse. There were about 25 or 30 people in the bar.

There were three people listening to the music. I was one. One of the other two is a local harp player that sits in at people's shows and then leaves less than a microsecond after he gets off the stage. He couldn't have left faster, if he had been in the warhead of a North Korean missile on the 4th of July. The other person was his girlfriend. Phil should have made him sit for another set.

I hung out for a set and a half. Phil Berkowitz, Marvin Greene, Tim Wagar and Marty Dodson put on a really nice show of jump blues numbers including a bunch of Louis Jordan tunes. It was a fine time.

A Long Overdue Entry

It's been a while since I've written anything here. Life has been busy. Here are some recent photos.

"Hayward / Russell City Blues Festival"

Photos from Saturday's excellent performances.

Bobby Rush, his smokin' hot dancers, Carl Weathersby, Ronnie Stewart, Sahar Miller, Hollywood Jenkins, Gino Landry, Craig Horton, Big Bob Deance, Wille G, Wylie Trass, Fillmore Slim, Curtis Lawson, Bobbie Webb, Teddy "Bluesmaster" Watson, Pork Pie Phillips, Carl Green, Rob Gordon, Jeramy Norris and Wingnut Adams.

Photos from Sunday's equally excellent performances.

Billy Branch, Carl Weathersby, Kenny Neal, Roach, KC Kelsey Hill, Linda Shell, Ella Pennewell and Dale Heart Johnson.

"Steve Freund's 53 Birthday Bash @ The Ivy Room"

This was a really fun show. Steve had a bunch of musical guests joining in the evening's festivities.

Steve Freund, Carol Fran, Birdlegg, Mari Mack, Burton Winn, John Peterson, Sid Morris and Steve Kaufman.

"First Annual Redwood City Blues Festival"

Carol Fran, Kenny Neal, Fredrick Neal, Darnell Neal, Bobbie Webb, George Schoenstein, Jerry Cordasco, Madison Sink, Kerry Daly, Kenny "Blue" Ray, Ray Figueroa, Charlie Chavez, Steve Welch, Danny Denaro, Allison Paige, Greg Heumann, Phil Berkowitz, Stan Erhart, Norm DeCarlo, Amy Lou, JB Davis, Dolly Rappaport, Geoff Stich, Jim Moore and John Lull.

Photos can be found here.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Sunday @ The Hayward/Russell City Blues Festival

I was dead ass tired from the previous two days. Wait. Stop. Rewind. I had been on vacation all week long. I was dead tired from running around all week long. I had some errands to run before making it to the Festival. I had all of the best intentions, but I was dead tired and I was running late.

I arrived at about 2:30pm expecting to see JC Smith with Ella Pennewell and Joanna Connor. When I arrived, the Caravan Of All Stars were backing Ella Pennewell. She's a great singer. She ended up doing a longer and very nice set. I was sort of disappointed, but it was a very enjoyable set.

Next up was Linda Shell with KC Kelsey Hill and the Caravan Of All Stars. This was an excellent set. Linda Shell can really sing and Kelsey Hill helped to direct the band. Linda Shell was very impressive.

She was following by Café R&B featuring a knock out singer named Roach. Her band ripped through a number of high energy tunes and some really slow tunes which could be described as sexy.

Next up was Kenny Neal & Billy Branch. They performed several great acoustic numbers from their award winning CD, Double Take including: (the St Louis Jimmy classic) Going Down Slow, The Son I Never Knew (which is an extremely powerful song) and (the song that launched the recording career of Little Walter) I Just Keep Loving Her. These two guys work really well together. This was a very intimate and powerful set for an audience of several hundred. It was amazing stuff.

Billy Branch really demonstrated again that he is a true harmonica innovator, rather than an imitator. The guy has amazing tone and phrasing that can only be compared to the true masters. Someone in the audience called him the Charlie Parker of the harmonica.

Kenny Neal did another song with the band, before calling Billy Branch and Carl Weathersby to the stage for the final song of the set.

Last up was EC Scott. She had a full band with a three piece horn section. She delivered a great set. It had been a long day. After the conclusion of her set, I ran a friend back to the hotel and headed home. It had been a fabulous weekend.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Saturday Night @ The Bistro

I went home and showered before returning to the Bistro. I was expecting Ronnie Stewart and the Caravan Of All Stars. Dalhart Johnson was on the stage along with a drummer and a guitar player that I had never seen before. The music was raw, earthy and very powerful. It had a very deep Southern sound to it. The place was packed with festival attendees.

The band took a break and Don Yonders walked in with his equipment. He said that Ronnie Stewart had asked him to play with the band. He asked me, if I wanted to join them. I said sure expecting to play a couple of songs.

Three hours later, the music came to an end and I was still up there. It was fun, but the heat of the day was starting to catch up with me. I looked over at Dalhart Johnson. He looked exhausted. He had been playing from about noon until 1:00am with a few breaks. He's a hardcore guy and he was booked to play the following day, too.

The guitar player and the guy doing the majority of the singing was KC Kelsey Hill. He was performing at the festival the following day with Linda Shell. He's a nice guy and he has a real unique sound that is straight out out of the South. He looked fairly young. I was shocked to find out he was performing in almost 40 years ago.

Saturday @ The Hayward/Russell City Blues Festival

Saturday morning, I was dragging from being out the previous night. The plan was to make it for the opening act of the Hayward/Russell City Blues Festival. I was running late. I thought I was going to miss the first couple of sets. Somehow, I found a place front and center. I still managed to make it for the last couple of numbers by a fabulous Gospel group called Endurance. They were followed by Wingnut Adams.

The Caravan Of All Stars. played the first of several sets. These guys are very hardcore. Everyone was looking sharp and dressed in black suits as the temperature climbed above 100 degrees. A couple people had passed out from the heat, when Pork Pie Phillips stepped on the stage. He sang a couple of his fantastic original tunes. Next up was the 71 year old Teddy "Bluesmaster" Watson. Unfazed by the heat, he sang most of his set in the grass in front of the stage while interacting with the audience.

The next act was the San Francisco Fillmore Review featuring: Fillmore Slim, Bobbie Webb & Curtis Lawson. At this point, the heat was starting to get to me so I walked around the festival area while soaking up the sounds. I stopped in to take a few pictures.

"(Editor's Note: Photos will come later.)"

It was a great set that was kicked off by a nice version of Honky Tonk by Bobbie Webb. Curtis Lawson came out decked in red sequins from head to toe. He was wearing a cool red hat and a cape that were covered in sequins. He sang a couple of great songs, before Fillmore Slim stepped on the stage. He was a ball of human energy. He ripped through several songs including a really nice version of "The Things I Used To Do." He's got an amazing amount of energy of style for a guy in his early 70's.

After a very short break, the Caravan Of All Stars returned to the stage being joined by a trio of excellent blues singers including Wylie Trass, Wille G and Hollywood Jenkins. I snapped a few photos. It was too damn hot. At this point, I was starting to seek a shady area.

Next up was the Russell City Memorial Blues Band which consisted of: Gino Landers, "Big Bob" Deance, Bobbie Webb, Dalhart Johnson and Carl Green. Also joining this group was the great Craig Horton. This set was somewhat abbreviated, but great.

Carl Weathersby was up next. He was backed by the Caravan Of All Stars. At this point, the crowd got up on their feet and dancing. They moved in toward the stage. He raised the bar high delivering a very high intensity set featuring some excellent vocal work. At one point, the band almost stopped playing while he bent the twisted and bent the strings of his guitar with a high degree of fierocity. It was an excellent set.

The final set of the day was delivered by the fabulous Bobby Rush. Bobby arrived really early. He walked around the audience and talked to people. He's a real down to Earth guy and he put on a show that really demonstrates why he has been won the Living Blues Award for Best Live Performer. He mixed some tunes off of his latest CD, "Night Fishin'" with some of his older classic material. Bobby Rush is a song stylist, a prolific songwriter, an excellent performer and and a legend in American Music. He's also a true bluesman.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Carl Weathersby @ The Bistro

This past weekend was downright scan'lous. Friday night, I was planning on taking my lovely wife to the Mojo Lounge. Carl Weathersby was on the bill with Linda Shell. Due to a variety of circumstances, he was unable to make it. We were bummed out. Seeing Carl do his stuff in a club like the Mojo Lounge is about as close to a Midwest roadhouse as one will find west of the Mississippi River.

For some strange reason, I decided to check my e-mail at around 8:45. I had an e-mail from a friend of mine. Carl was in Hayward. I called him and he said he was heading down to The Bistro to hang out with the Caravan of All Stars. Before, I split I called Don Yonder and Barrelhouse Solly to let them know what was going on and I was out the door.

The scene at The Bistro was pretty quiet. Ronnie Stewart was leading a four piece band. After a few numbers, they invited Carl up to play a few songs. He started off with "I'll Play The Blues For You" followed by the not often heard, "Travelin' Man." Things got really quiet and he put on an amazing display of dynamics and tension during a haunting version of "Blues At Sunrise".

After returning from a short break, he started off the second set with "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You." He strapped on a guitar and cranked up the tempo by launching into "Please Love Me." There weren't a lot of people in The Bistro, but he put on one helluva show. It was very intimate and personal.

He took a break and was following by "Willie G." He kept the audience moving with a couple of great R&B tunes before the evening was over.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Curtis Salgado Benefit Photos

I attended the benefit for Curtis Salgado at the Mojo Lounge. The benefit featured a star studded cast of characters and raised over $5000 for Mr Salgado.

Appearing on the show were:

Kenny "Blue" Ray and his band,
Daniel Castro,
RJ Mischo,
Bay Area Blues Society Caravan of All Stars,
Steve Freund Blues Band w/ Mark Hummel
Jackie Payne & Steve Edmonson.

There were a multitude of great guests sitting in and a number of fantastic musicians in the audience that didn't have the opportunity to perform due to time constraints.

Photos from the Curtis Salgado Benefit are at:

Caught in the act were:

Jackie Payne, Steve Edmonson, Carlos Zialcita, Mark Hummel, Steve Freund, Willie G, Teddy "Bluesmaster" Watson, Pork Pie Phillips, Wylie Trass, Unknown Bass Player, Ronnie Stewart, Daniel Castro, Nick Otis, Mike "Naz" Nazarenko, RJ Mischo, Ray Figueroa, Robi Bean, Bill Singletary, Kate Garcia, Charlie Chavez, Matt Lawley and Don Yonder.

Bonus: Photos from the Friday show at the Mojo Lounge include: Johnny Cat and Terry Hanck.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 666 Edition

It was a fun time at the Mojo Lounge last night. It was the final evening that John Nemeth was hosting the jam. It was a party-like atmosphere. RJ Mischo will be returning next week. The house band was John Nemeth, Mighty Mike Schermer, Vance Ehlers and Hans Bosse. I got there late. The jam was already underway.

There were a bunch of guests in attendance that made some very good music. Included were: Freddie Roulette, James "Loose" Reed, Chris Brown, Johnny Cat, Don Yonder, Double G, Russell Barber, Harmonica Hutch, Ray Figueroa, Artie Chavez and several new faces that I hadn't seen before...

I had the opportunity to play a couple of tunes with Mike Schermer, Vance Ehlers and E-Rock. Mike is a fantastic guitar player and singer. That was very cool and very enjoyable. As always, it was a really good time.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

2006 Photos

It's been a while since I posted an entry about photos. The last time was March.

Photos since the last update include: Ken Saydak, Steve Freund, Kid Andersen, Ronnie Jacobsen, Wendy Dewitt, Don Yonder, Johnny Cat, Dennis Dove, Bruce Ferrell, Richard Rodriguez, Phil Berkowitz, Gary Smith, Bob Welsh, Hans Bosse, RJ Mischo, Jimmy Dewrance, Mark Hummel, Birdlegg, Cadillac Zack, Suzy Tyler, Dave Specter, Rontu Karr and Ron Hacker.

The URL is:

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ron Hacker & Steve Freund @ The Ivy Room

It was a very cool evening of music at the Ivy Room last night. The Yahoo Bay Area Blues Group had a really good turn out. It was nice to put names to faces and to see some people that I hadn't seen in a while.

Steve Freund kicked off a great evening of music with the trio before bringing up his special guest, Ron Hacker. It was an excellent first set which kicked off a very cool evening of music. Later in the set, Artie Chavez joined the group.

During the second set, Steve introduced an additional special guest, the infamous Cadillac Zack got up a played a few tunes with the band before Ron came back up to the stage.

In the final set, Steve called Stan Erhart, Burton Winn and Donnie Kountz up to the stage along with Birdlegg. They did a few numbers together. Afterward, we called Cadillac Zack and Ron Hacker back up, along with Rontu Karr. After a few more tunes, it was a wrap and in the history books.

Overall, it was non-stop tough roadhouse style music from beginning to end and a very interesting contrast to the Freund/Specter shows of the previous weekend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 05/23 Edition

RJ was still in absentia. John Nemeth was MC and bandleader for the evening and it was a fabulous evening filled with fun, frolic and great music provided by a fine house band consisting of John Nemeth (harp/vocals), Mighty Mike Schermer (guitar/vocals), Vance Ehlers (bass) and Hans Bosse (drums).

A multitude of musical guests graced the stage including:

Group #1: John Nemeth (harp/vocals), Mighty Mike Schermer (guitar/vocals), Vance Ehlers (bass) and Hans Bosse (drums). A tough, tough group.

Group #2: John, Chris Brown (guitar), Vance and Hans. One song. Short and sweet before John introduced Jimmy D.

Group #3: Jimmy Dewrance (harp/vocals), Chris, Vance and Hans. Jimmy Dewrance was sounding fantastic. He worked well with Chris Brown. A very nice extended set.

There was a break.

Group #4: John Nemeth (harp/vocals), Gino Baronelli (guitar/vocals), Ryan Eric (guitar), Ray Figueroa (bass), Eric (keys), Freddie Roulette (lap steel) and E-Rock (drums). John did a couple of nice tunes before turning the vocal microphone to Gino who snag a fine version of the classic "Look On Yonder Wall."

Group #5: Armelle (vocals), unknown (guitar), Ray, Freddie and unknown (drums). Armelle brought the guitar player and drummer to the jam. They are younger guys and quite good. I had never seen them before. Armelle is a fine vocalist. You can tell that she has been working with these guys. They sounded tight. Very nice set featuring a fine version of the Work Song.

There was a break.

Group #6: John Nemeth (vocals), Mighty Mike Schermer (guitar), Scott Miller (guitar/vocals), Double G (harp), Freddie Roulette (lap steel), Vance Ehlers (bass) and Hans Bosse (drums). John did a couple of tunes to kick off the set. The interplay between Mike Schermer and Scott Miller was really cool. The Potato Digging Man, Double G demonstrated some very good harp playing.

Group #7: Mighty Mike (guitar/vocals), Don Yonders (without an S/guitar), me (harp), Freddie, Vance and Hans. Mike sang a couple of tunes. One in an Elmore James style and exhibited some fine slide guitar playing. Freddie Roulette's playing was so cool that it was ice cold. The other song was a really nice version of Long Distance Call with Don Yonders tossing in a great guitar solo straight from the South Side of Chicago.

Group #8: John Nemeth (vocals), Mighty Mike, Don Yonders, Tom (from the Buzzy Dupree Orchestra) (guitar), Freddie, Vance and Hans. The last couple of tunes were in the classic early BB King style and I had never heard them before. The three guitar players worked well together each taking turns playing some very nice and very tasteful guitar solos.

and it was in the history books.

The thing that is great about the Mojo jam is that it's an excellent opportunity to share the stage with some great musicians. More importantly, even if one doesn't play it's a really fun place to hang out. I don't usually frequent a lot of blues jams, but this one keeps me coming back because the people are cool and the music is usually top notch.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 05/16 Edition

With RJ on another European and Scandinavian tour, Birdlegg was the host and MC for the evening. The house band was: Steve Gannon (guitar), Bob Welsh (bass) and Hans Bosse (drums). There was a keyboard player present, but I can remember his name. Birdlegg was in fine form. It was great to see and hear Steve Gannon.

Guest group #1: Pork Pie Phillips (vocals), Scott Miller (guitar), Ryan Eric (guitar), Eddie B (bass), E-Rock (drums) and me (harmonica). It's always a good time getting to play with Pork Pie. He's a fine singer and he's always got some cool songs.

Guest group #2: Birdlegg (harp/vocals), Chris Andersen (guitar), Steve Gannon (guitar), Bob Welsh (bass) and Artie Chavez (drums). It was a very cool set which featured some very good slide guitar playing using a slide by Steve Gannon and some very good slide guitar playing without using a slide by Chris Andersen.

Guest group #3: Birdlegg (harp/vocals), Chris Brown (guitar), Russell Barber (guitar), Ray Figueroa (bass) and E-Rock (drums). Chris Brown and Russell Barber played off each other quite nicely. Chris Brown's guitar playing on the Guitar Slim classic, "The Things I Used To Do" was excellent.

Guest group #4: Double G (harp/vocals), Don Yonders (guitar), Tom (from the Buzzy Dupree Band) (guitar), Ray Figueroa (bass) and Dawon (drums). Double G was sounding good. Don Yonder displayed some stinging West Side Chicago-influenced guitar work. Tom played some very tasteful slide.

Final group: Birdlegg (harp/vocals), Chris Andersen (guitar), Steve Gannon (guitar), Bob Welsh (bass) and Hans Bosse (drums). This set was a great way to end the evening.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Steve Freund @ The Poor House Bistro

Friday night was a boatload of fun. I headed down to historic Watsonville to shoot photos of a band called the Nightcreepers. After filling up several memory cards, I went down to a barbecue joint called Hungerfords. Nice place. Excellent food. Friendly people working there. It was nice to see some people that I hadn't seen in a while like Marc Carino and to meet some new folks. They were kind enough to let me sit in on a few songs with their fine band along with Kid Andersen.

Afterward, I dropped the Kid off at the Fog Bank in Capitola. Swing Shift was playing there. I hung out for a set and a half. Peter Brown, Johnny Cat and Screamin' Ian sounded great. It was getting late. I had to get up relatively early, so I split. I was glad that I did. The drive through the Santa Cruz Mountains was pretty foggy and traffic was creeping along.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Blues Harp Blast @ The Mojo Lounge


If you weren't there last night, you missed one hell of a time.

Phil Berkowitz kicked off the festivities and he set the bar high. I've seen Phil numerous times. Last night, he sounded better than ever. He started off with a couple of Little Walter instrumentals and a Howlin' Wolf tune before he played a couple Louis Jordan tunes from his most recent CD. He sounded great. Not much more to say. If the night had ended after his set, it would have been a good night of music.

Next up was Gary Smith. He fought some static problems early in his set. Once he got going, his extended set featured the big fat harp tone that has made him a South Bay legend and a global cult figure among harp players. It was heavy and as thick as molasses. He burned through a very nice set of Chicago Blues featuring several Little Walter tunes.

During his set, I was talking to the infamous Double G. We were discussing Gary Smith's impact and influence on harp players. The list of harp players in the Bay Area that has not been influenced by Gary Smith would be a very short list and they are almost all transplants from other parts of the country.

The band took a break. The fine band consisted of Robert Welsh, Kedar Roy and Hans Bosse. Bob Welsh sounded great. He's a fabulous guitar player that is very skilled in backing harmonica players. Last night's event would have made a great instructional video. You could hear the stylist voicings of some great guitar players like Louis Myers, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Jr Lockwood, Buddy Guy and Freddie Robinson in his playing. Kedar and Hans kept the groove moving ahead like an old steam locomotive. Powerful, strong and kept time like the clickety-clack on the rails.

After the break, RJ played several tunes. His set consisted mostly of original tunes and he tossed in a couple of classics by guys like JB Hutto. He did one thing that really stood out during his performance. It was something separated him from almost all of the other performers in the lineup. His harp playing was very sparse, so when he played, it made a statement.

Next up was Jimmy Dewrance and there was yet another stylistic change. It's hard to describe, but his style is a bit more modern, while retaining a very classic feel to it. Like Phil Berkowitz, he digs deep and find some excellent songs that aren't heard very often. He also picks some swinging tunes by saxophone players and adapts them to fit his harmonica playing in the Little Walter tradition.

Mark Hummel followed a fine set. He sounded a lot like Mark Hummel. He sounded great. He played a couple of really old James Cotton tunes and a fabulous version of "Blue and Lonesome." Bob Welsh sounded absolutely awesome on this tune creating a high degree of tension displaying some very nice supporting guitar work much like Luther Tucker. Mark Hummel finished up his set with a couple of nice instrumentals.

The band took another break.

For the final scheduled performance of the evening, Birdlegg blew the roof off of the Mojo Lounge. That man is a pure entertainer from the old school. He really knows how to work a crowd. It was an amazing change of pace and a turn away from the Little Walter-influenced sounds of the evening. Birdlegg burned through several Sonny Boy Williamson and Jimmy Reed tunes before finishing up with a few of his own compositions and a pretty nasty version of Stoop Down Baby.

RJ did one tune with a three other harp players in the house. Arthur Daugherty, a harp instructor named Dave (not Barrett) and myself. He asked Birdlegg to do one final number, Birdlegg asked me to stick around. I felt honored, but it just didn't feel right, since people really wanted more of him.

In a nutshell, that was it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Friday Night Frolic

Friday night was a boatload of fun. I headed down to historic Watsonville to shoot photos of a band called the Nightcreepers. After filling up several memory cards, I went down to a barbecue joint called Hungerfords. Nice place. Excellent food. Friendly people working there. It was nice to see some people that I hadn't seen in a while like Marc Carino and to meet some new folks. They were kind enough to let me sit in on a few songs with their fine band along with Kid Andersen.

Afterward, I dropped the Kid off at the Fog Bank in Capitola. Swing Shift was playing there. I hung out for a set and a half. Peter Brown, Johnny Cat and Screamin' Ian sounded great. It was getting late. I had to get up relatively early, so I split. I was glad that I did. The drive through the Santa Cruz Mountains was pretty foggy and traffic was creeping along.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Pleasure Kings in Milpitas

I caught the Pleasure Kings at Brandon's in magnificent Milpitas, CA. Brandon's is a very nice club in the Beverly Heritage Hotel. The Pleasure Kings (Johnny Cat, Bob Welsh, Mike Phillips and Dennis Dove) work through a variety of Blues and R&B classics. Their repertoire is wide ranging running from the down home Blues of Eddie Taylor to the modern uptown style of the great Tyrone Davis. Bruce Ferrell from the Kaye Bohler Blues Band and Sid Morris dropped in an played a couple of tunes.

The Pleasure Kings will be performing at Brandon's again on May 11th. They have a number of special guests planned, plus you never know who is going to drop in.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 04/25 Edition

Last night was a fun night at the Mojo Lounge. RJ, Bob Welsh, Kedar Roy and June Core were the house band. As is customary, RJ kicked off the evening's festivities with a great first set consisting a few Sonny Boy Williamson (both John Lee Williamson and Rice Miller) and Little Walter tunes. He turned over the stage to Bob Welsh for a tune. Bob played a killer instrumental version of Memphis.

There were a truckload of guests in the house and RJ started to call them up. The first guest brought up before the break was the fabulous Wendy Dewitt. Wendy was sounding great as always. A harp player named Gino Bambino played a couple of tunes as well.

There was a short break.

Kid Andersen, Ryan Eric, Ray Figueroa, Artie Chavez (sporting a new pony tail and his lovely better half), Barrelhouse Solly I, Gino Baronelli, Bree, Don Yonder, Linda Martinez, E-Rock, Double G, Danny Denaro, Charlie Knight and a few others were all present and accounted for.

It was a very fun night.

I snapped a few photos. I captured some rare video of the enigmatic Double G being backed by the New Kingpins.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Birdlegg @ Dotha's Juke Joint

|It was a wild night in Oakland on Saturday. I went to Dotha's Juke Joint and caught Birdlegg with Steve Freund and a new rhythm section that was nothing short of excellent. Birdlegg was at the top of his game last night. The man is an old school entertainer.

There was a 26 year old female saxophone player in the house. She played most of the second set. Alvon dropped by for a bit and played three or four tunes. Little Willie John Jr was celebrating his birthday. He sang three or four tunes including a Johnny Taylor and ZZ Hill tune. Tia Carroll also sang a couple of numbers. She's a fabulous singer.

There were a few more performers in the audience, but I was dead tired and needed to get home. For those in attendance, it was a great time. For those that weren't there, you missed a great show!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Blues Phantoms @ The Mojo Lounge

Last Friday, I caught Phil Harmonica and the Blues Phantoms at the Mojo Lounge. It was an enjoyable show. It was nice and low key. Perfect after a long week at work. Phil Harmonica was in fine form. Kenny "Blue" Ray and Scott Miller sounding like their normal excellent selves. The lovely Amy Lou dropped in and sang a couple of tunes.

There was a good crowd. It was nice to see Robin, Chris and Dennis. Overall, it was a really good night.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 04/19 Edition

Tuesday night was a great night at the Mojo Lounge. RJ had returned from his most recent European tour. The house band for this evening consisted of RJ Mischo, Kenny "Blue" Ray, Kedar Roy and Hans Bosse.

I think a busload of harmonica players on some sort of field trip must have stopped outside. There were at about a dozen in attendance including:

Scott "Phil Harmonica" Hickman, Barrelhouse Solly, Birdlegg, Phil Berkowitz, James Reed, Dennis Carelli, Kevin Walker and the enigmatic Double G. Other performers were the electrifying E-Rock, Scott Duncan, Gino and JB Davis.

Blue Ray could have produced a video last night on how to back a harp player. He was in the zone and had those subtle Robert Jr Lockwood runs working overtime.

The highlight of the night had to be Birdlegg. It had been a while since the last time that I had seen him. He sounded better than ever. Off the hook, if you will.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Steve Freund @ The Mojo Lounge

Friday night, I dropped by the Mojo Lounge and caught the Master Blaster, the man of the hour, too sweet to be sour, the prolific Steve Freund. When I walked into the Mojo, the joint was jumping and people were having fun. Fortunately, the blue coat man never came in with his big gun, so no one had to jump and run.

It was a good crowd. There were numerous musician on hand to catch the show. Chris "Kid" Andersen, Peter Brown, Jerome Engleberts and several others were in attendance. Steve was joined by Bob Welch, Burton Winn and Robi Bean. The band is one that feels like it's straight from Chicago. It's super tight, yet feels loose at the same time. When he kicks off a tune, it's nothing but pure deep Blues featuring an amazing tone that cuts like a razor. They plowed through a multitude of classic blues tunes borrowing from the songbooks of BB, Albert and Freddie King. He also mixed in more than a few Steve Freund tunes. He played three long sets with very short breaks. Like always, Bob sounded great on piano. He tickles the ivories in the old school way conjuring up the almost forgotten sounds of Sunnyland Slim and Otis Spann. Burton Winn and Robi Bean lay a foundation that is so solid, you could build a skyscraper on it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 03/28 Edition

RJ Mischo was in absentia, but the Tuesday night party continued down at the Mojo Lounge. Johnny Cat, Kedar Roy and Dennis Dove hosted the festivities and did a superb job. They opened the show with a fine version of the Watermelon Man followed by an impressive version of Freddy King's The Stumble. Dennis did a great job on Tyrone Davis' Turning Point and a couple of other tunes before inviting Chris Brown and myself to start the jam. A couple of songs later, Johnny invited a female singer to sing a couple of tunes. I can't remember her name, Kate Garcia.

I can't remember who was up next. I think I missed a whole group here and I'm not sure why. Old age?

I think it was Stan Erhart, Jerome Engelberts, Greg Heumann, Wild Bill Pruitt and the amazing E-Rock. Wild Bill and E-Rock set a really nice groove. Jerome sang a couple of tunes including Big Leg Woman before turning the microphone over to Stan. He did a couple of great tunes including the Albert King classic, Oh Pretty Woman. Greg demonstrated his fine harp playing to full effect.

Next up was Jeff and Tom from the Buzzy Dupree Orchestra. They were joined by the prolific Don Yonders. Greg Heumann switched to his saxophone. Don sounded fastastic as always and he and Tom were trading off some very nice guitar soloes. After a few songs, Jeff departed and was replaced by a harp player named Benny. He sang a few tunes. A Billy Boy Arnold tune and the Muddy Water's classic, Mannish Boy. Chris Brown and Dennis Dove contributed some very nice bass playing.

Scott Duncan came up and did a couple of songs with Johnny Cat, Kedar Roy and a very good female drummer. I've seen her before at Murphy's Law and at Brandon's, but I cant remember her name. After Scott and the drummer stepped down, Dennis Dove got back up on stage. He did a great version of Tyrone Davis tune, Can I Change My Mind before the evening's festivities concluded with a killer surf medley.

With that, the evening was in the book. Damn, it was fun

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Willie Kent

Willie Kent

This past Thursday March 2, 2006, legendary bluesman Willie Kent passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Willie Kent was one of my favorite performers. The first time that I saw him was at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted in the mid 80's. He was working with Eddie Taylor. Since that time, I had seen him perform countless times in and out of Chicago.

1991 saw the release of his first record on a major label. Delmark Records released Ain't It Nice to a great deal of critical acclaim. The album won the Library of Congress Award for the Best Folk/Blues Album of 1991. It featured a cast of great Chicago-area musicians. It's an awesome recording that demonstrated that the deep Chicago Blues was still live and flourishing.

I always felt that he was one of the few practitioners of a trade that seems to be disappearing. Willie Kent was a real deal bluesman. He wrote excellent songs and he was a fabulous old school singer in the tradition of Muddy Waters. His blues were deep and they told a story.

Willie made the trek from Chicago to the Bay Area a few times in the mid 1990's. He performed at the now defunct, Blues on B in San Mateo. His bands were schooled in the classic Chicago Blues mold dipping into material from the kings of the South and West Side styles. Those performances were like finding a rare jewel. I think that I attended every one of them.

While he was out here, he did an interview which appeared on public television in San Mateo. He spoke a great deal about his life and the struggles that he faced as a very dark skinned black man. In a
magazine interview, he spoke felt that people steered clear of him because of his skin tone. It was their loss. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with him on more than one occasion. He was one of the nicest guys that you would ever meet.

When I made annual trips back to Chicago, seeing Willie Kent perform was always at the top of the list. He was simply that good.

One time, I was visiting my family in suburban Chicago in 1999. There was a small festival going on called the Taste of Westmont. Westmont is a nothing happening town. It's claim to fame was that Muddy Waters, Eddy Clearwater and Larry "Big Twist" Nolan lived there.

The festival had a day dedicated to Blues and the memory of Muddy Waters. The lineup was: Johnnie B Moore, James Wheeler, Lester "Mad Dog" Davenport, Little Smokey Smothers, Bonnie Lee, Pat Scott and Pinetop Perkins. Willie Kent and his band backed all of these guys with a short break which was filled by the Lonnie Brooks Blues Band. It was a free, small, little unadvertised Blues Festival that put most festivals to shame. Willie Kent and Baldhead Pete were the ironmen of the day. They played almost continuously for four hours in the street on a hot, humid and sunny summer day.

The last time that I saw him was in the winter of 1999. It was freezing cold in Chicago. I had been searching for a copy of his CD entitled Everybody Needs Somebody. I asked him if he had a copy for sale. He said that he was out. A few minutes later, he mentioned that he might have one in his van. We walked a couple of blocks in the freezing cold night and he sold me his last copy of the CD. I was pretty impressed that he was willing to go to that trouble for a fan and a $15 CD sale. The next day, I returned to California.

Throughout his career, he appeared on over 45 recordings as a featured artist or as a sideman. He was a great performer, an excellent musician and a really nice person.

This Week In Blues

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Steve Freund & Ken Saydak

Thursday evening, I caught Steve Freund and Ken Saydak at JJ's Blues Lounge in San Jose.

When I arrived at JJ's, I ran into Steve and Ken unloading their stuff. I talked to Steve and Ken briefly. During our brief conversation, I found out that Ken and I grew up about four miles from each other on Chicago's South West side. Thick Chicago accents were on display much to the surprise of long time friends.

Once we got inside, the show began. This show set the bar for the remainder of the year. Steve and Ken played two extended sets of almost all original tunes. They really worked well together which is what you would expect considering that they've known each other for close to 30 years.

Ken is an excellent song writer and piano player. He is skilled in the old school styles, but comes off sounding totally fresh and modern. For the final tune of the evening, he switched over to the house organ and they played a great Jimmy Smith style number to conclude a very entertaining evening. It was a really fantastic show.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

RJ Mischo

It was an action packed night at Fat Tuesday edition of RJ Mischo's World Famous All Day Blues Jam Night at the Mojo Lounge.

As always, RJ kicked off the festivities for the evening with a fabulous house band consisting of Little Jonny Lawton, Randy Bermudes and June Core. RJ's playing last night with this group of guys was nothing short of awe inpiring.

Jaw dropping, simply, jaw dropping. If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren't your missed out on a great free show.

The evening featured several guest artists including the prolific, enigmatic and charismatic Double G, the electrifying E-Rock, a good harp player from Southern California named Ryan, Lisa and myself.

Most importantly, yesterday marked the return of the great Little Junior Crudup to the big stage at the Mojo Lounge. Little Junior being the ultra-bad ass showman that he really lit up the stage and captivated the audience.

This Week In Blues

Last week was a very busy week and I need to take a break. Here's the dealio.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Charlie Musselwhite Blues Band

I went to Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz to see the Charlie Musselwhite Band. It was a really great show. Not much more to say about it, other than it was fantastic. Great band in a great venue with great sound.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I stopped off at Brandon's for a bit to check out The Pleasure Kings.

It had been several years since my last excursion to Brandon's. I had forgotten what a nice place it is. The bar has a number of tables with nicely upholstered chairs. The bar staff and waitresses were really friendly and attentive. Dinner service from the finest restaurant in Milpitas is available in the bar. One sentence: It's a really nice and comfortable room.

The band was excellent. Johnny Cat, Mike Phillips, Dennis Dove and Robert Welsh have worked together for years. They were tight. They played a variety of nicely selected material covering Tyrone Davis, The Meters, BB King, Freddie King, Snooks Eaglin and many more. It was all blues with a little of R&B mixed in. They had few guests perform.

The sound was very good. The volume was very good. It was loud enough to be a good listening volume, but not enough to cause hearing damage.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It was a fun night at the Little Fox Theater. Kenny "Blue" Ray and his band of merry men provided an evening filled with fun and excitement. The evening was filled with great music performed by a group of familiar faces like:

Phil Berkowitz, Scott Miller, Don Yonders (who informed me that there is no "s" in Don Yonders), Vince Caminiti, Ray Figeroa, Artie Chavez and Kenny "Blue" Ray. There were also a bunch of faces that were new to me. One guy that really impressed me was a harp player and singer named Ron Lowes.

It was a good time, once again and it's always a treat to perform with Kenny "Blue" Ray and his Orchestra.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It was a stellar night at RJ Mischo's World Famous Tuesday Night Blues Jam at the Mojo Lounge. The place was packed with performers and people just hanging out having a good time.

RJ, Kid Andersen, Kadar Roy and June Core started the evening with a number of tunes from the Junior Wells, Snooky Pryor and Hound Dog Taylor songbooks before RJ dipped into the local talent pool.

Performing on the newly remodeled stage during the course of the evening was the infamous Harmonica Hutch, Don Yonders, Artie Chavez, Phil Berkowitz, Chris Brown, Russell Barber, Johnny Cat, Eddie B, Matt Lawley and me.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Photos For 2006

Photos for 2006 can be found here.

Horseman's Club (02/12/2006):

Fillmore Slim, Frankie Lee, Joe Louis Walker, Bobbie Webb, Rick Estrin, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Rico McFarland, James Cotton, Slam Allen, Tom Holland, Johnny Rawls, Billy Dunn and Omar Shariff.

Little Fox Theater Jam (02/08/2006):

Lara Price, Kenny Neal and Taylor P Collins.

Mojo Lounge (02/07/2006 and 01/31/2006):

Don Yonders and the electrifying Double G.

Poor House Bistro (02/04/2006):

Johnny Cat, Marvin Greene and RJ Mischo.

Cavalcade of Blues (01/28/2006):

Kenny "Blue" Ray, Charlie Chavez, Artie Chavez, Ray Figeroa, Vince Caminiti, Greg Heumann, George Landreth, David Vincent, Tom DeFiglio, Allyson Paige, John Lull, Jim Moore, Jerome Engelberts, JB Davis, George Schoenstein, Madison Sink and Kerry Daly.

Mojo Lounge (01/27/2006):

Mark Hummel, Charles Wheal, Steve Wolf and Marty Dodson.

Little Fox Theater Jam(01/25/2006):

Johnny Blues Boyd, Jimmy Dewrance, Arthur Daugherty, Slim, James "Loose" Reed, JB Davis, Glenn Mandelkern, Rory Brennan, Chris Brown, Stan Erhart, Eddy B, Johnny Cat, John Nemeth, Chris "Kid" Andersen, Kenny "Blue" Ray, Ron Lowes, Mike Phillips and Vince Caminiti.

Poor House Bistro (01/13/2006):

Little Frank Krakowski

Mojo Lounge (01/03/2006):

Kenny "Blue" Ray

Horseman's Club

Frankie Lee

It was another fine day at the Horseman's Club in Sacramento. I got up early in the morning at hit Highway 5. Enroute, I picked up Don Yonder and the infamous Double G. Two hours later, we rolled up to the Horsemen's Club. After a short wait, we paid the admission fee securing our place in a day of fun and blues-related frolic.

The facility was set up quite nicely. The first four bands appeared outside. It was a really nice and sunny day in Sacramento. I felt sort of guilty enjoying the warm weather, when most of the country is freezing their asses in the middle of February. That lasted about 30 seconds.

Omar Shariff kicked off the show with some very nice solo piano work. He played a couple of tunes before turning the stage over to Johnny Rawls. I had never seen him before and my exposure to him was hearing his songs on the radio every once in a while. It didn't prepare me for his set. He's got a voice as smooth as velvet. He was a very fine bandleader and he put on a great performance. It was a perfect beginning to an excellent afternoon.

Next up was Earl Thomas. His set was a 1970's retro-experience which ended with a song out of the T-Rex songbook. He's a good singer, but I really didn't dig his material. It wasn't incredibly horrible, it just didn't move me.

James Cotton was up next! James Cotton is like the mailman. He always delivers and he put on an excellent set. Slam Allen provided some excellent vocal work on the first three tunes which were very reminiscent of a BB King show. Tom Holland contributed some great guitar work on several tunes, but the star of the show was James Cotton.

James Cotton is still one of the baddest harp players on the planet. He's got some of the deepest tone that I've ever heard. He is simply the baddest of the bad! This set was pure Chicago Blues and it reminded me of the shows he used to play in Chicago on Christmas Day at the old Wise Fools Pub.

When he kicked off "Got My Mojo Working," he brought a boy on stage that was probably around 12 or 13. He blew a couple of great soloes that opened several eyes. An older black man in the audience shouted out, "he's pretty good for a white boy!"

James picked up a microphone and said, "People are people. It didn't matter what color he is. He can play. People are people." He told a story about when he first played with Sonny Boy Williamson at the age of nine on KPFA in Helena, Arkansas. It was cool.

That was a tough act to follow, but Lucky Peterson did a great job. High intensity is a great way to describe him and his band which featured Rico McFarland. Rico played a couple of super high energy songs before calling Lucky Peterson up to the stage. Although, the sun was dropping in the sky, he increased the temperature outside by several degrees.

During one song, he jumped off the stage and climbed on top of a chair while never missing a note during a fantastic guitar solo. He was joined by Rick Estrin, Kenny Neal and James Cotton for a tune. Omar Shariff came onstage to add a couple of verses to a great Jimmy Reed medley.

This set could have easiy finished the day with everyone leaving extremely happy, but the festivities weren't over. The music moved indoors with Joe Louis Walker and the San Francisco Fillmore Blues Revue with Bobbie Webb, Frankie Lee and Fillmore Slim.

One thing that you have to say about all four of these guys is that they are great; they are old school practitioners of the Blues and they really know how to work a crowd. Each of them delivered as expected delivering some amazing entertainment.

Joe Louis Walker delivered a fine set. He was joined by Kenny Neal for a couple of tunes. The highlight of this set had to be Frankie Lee. He's an incredibly soulful singer. He writes some great songs and he is an amazing showman that is always dressed for success with a perfect amount of bling.

Not to be outdone was Fillmore Slim who was decked out from head to toe in a wild purple suit that fit his image. He sang a couple of tunes before asking Rick Estrin to join the band on stage. They did a couple of tunes from his CD entitled, "The Game" before it was quitting time.

The high of the day far surpassed the drudgery of the two hour drive back home. I walked into the house at a little past 11:00pm. It was a great day. The good news is the Sacramento Heritage Festival folks are doing this again in April.

Little Fox Theater Blues Jam

Kenny Neal

Kenny "Blue" Ray hosted another fine jam at the Little Fox Theater this past Wednesday evening. Joining his band during the opening set was Greg Heumann from the Bluestate Band. After an excellent opening set, the jam started with a great singer named Taylor P. Collins. She set the bar really high by burning through a couple of Little Milton tunes that could have melted steel. She was a tough act to follow, but the next person up would raise the bar even higher and still manage to clear it.

Kenny Neal joined the Kenny "Blue" Ray Band. He performed for about a half hour and it was some of the finest Blues music that I had heard in a while.

The band took a short break...

At that moment, I felt a little guilty seeing some great music without paying an entrance fee, so I dropped some cash into the tip bucket.

After he finished up, Greg Heumann said to me, "He's got some of the best harp tone playing straight through a PA that I've ever heard." I spoke with Don Yonder and he said, "I feel sorry for whoever has to follow his playing." The sentence was barely out of his mouth when the next person's name got called. That guy refused to play and walked out.

Next up on the list was me and a some other guys that I had never seen before. Needless to say, the bar set by Kenny Neal was cleared. All of us flew right under the bar with room to plenty of room to spare.

A little later in the evening, James Reed of Mojo Madness played a few tunes with Don Yonder. Afterword, the lovely Lara Price played some drums and sang a couple of great tunes. This lady has got a huge voice shoved into a tiny package. She can flat out sing.

A few more musicians got up. I was asked back up to the stage. I proceeded to blow up my amplifier. Other than that, it was another pretty cool evening at the Little Fox Theater

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 02/07 Edition

Double G & one of his many admirers

It was a very mellow and low key evening at the Mojo Lounge for the umpteenth edition of R.J. Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam. The band consisted of Kenny "Blue" Ray, Marc Carino and June Core.

The started the evening with a very mellow set that kept the music down in the alley. Attendance was light, so R.J. decided to keep things low key and had a Front Porch theme going. Joining the band during the course of the evening was: Johnny Cat, Kid Andersen, Don Yonder, E-Rock and Freddie Roulette.

I sat in during the final set of the evening with the amazing Double G who has recently returned to the Blues scene after a twenty year absence. Whenever, you get to sit in with a performer that has a deep pedigree like Double G, it's always an indescribable moment.

I was so overcome with emotion that I had to leave the stage after a couple of songs. Fortunately, I was able to capture Double G in action with one of his many adoring fans at his feet in a truly magical moment.

Marvin Greene & RJ Mischo @ Poor House Bistro

Lindsay w/ Johnny Cat, Marvin Greene, RJ Mischo

Saturday night, I loaded the family into the van and we headed down to the Poor House Bistro to catch the duo of Marvin Greene and R.J. Mischo at the Poor House Bistro.

It was a really weird evening. The Sharks were playing at the Arena. When we pulled into the parking lot at the Poor House, we immediately found a parking spot. When we walked into the covered patio, it was jam packed. There were a couple of huge parties. We were able to immediately find a seat as another family was leaving for the arena. What luck!

Marvin and RJ put on a really cool show for the dinner crowd. They played a lot of really old school Blues from the pre-war Bluebird period. They asked me to join them for a couple of tunes. It was a blast to play some old school Blues. After a bit, Johnny Cat dropped in for a bit. Unfortunately, the twin natives were getting restless, so we packed up the family and headed home for the remainder of the evening.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 01/30 Edition

Double G

This past Tuesday was an exceptionally historic edition of RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam at the Mojo Lounge. RJ opened the show with his fabulous band which included: Kid Andersen, Marc Carino and June Core.

After a great opening set, RJ asked Kenny "Blue" Ray, Ray Figeroa and Artie Chavez to the stage. They play some great Texas-styled Blues. Next up was Lara Price, Laura Chavez and Scott Miller.

After the previous set, the musical bar was set high for the return of Double G and The New Kingpins. After a twenty year sabbatical sponsored by the federal government, Oakland bluesman Double G made his return to the stage backed by his band, The New Kingpins. Double G ripped through a series of selections from his first recording since 1979 entitled "Brunswick Blues."

It was a great evening of music, fun and frolic down at the Mojo Lounge.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Little Fox Theater Blues Jam

Kenny "Blue" Ray

On Wednesday night, I decided to hit the Blues Jam at the Little Fox Theater that was being hosted by Kenny "Blue" Ray. I got there a little bit later than I had expected. I arrived at about 7:45pm and I suspect that I missed the first set of music.

When I walked in, I was really surprised by the surroundings. The Little Fox Theater is a beautiful venue that seats a couple hundred people. All of the seats were taken and there were a multitude of people standing around. It was easily a full house. The sign up sheet was two pages long. There was one full page of guitar players. There were several people that didn't sign up.

Blue Ray got on the microphone and immediately said that he was limiting people to two songs. If he had limited performers to one song, he still wouldn't have been able to get everyone on stage before the festivities ended at 11:00pm.

Some of the musicians that I saw perform during the course of the evening were:

Kenny "Blue" Ray, John Nemeth, Chris "Kid" Andersen, Johnny Cat, Stan Erhart, Chris Brown, Vince Caminiti, Scott Miller, Rory Brennan, Mike Phillips, JB Davis, John Alexander Eddie B., Glenn Mandelkern, Johnny Blues Boyd, James Reed, Arthur Daugherty, Jimmy Dewrance, Ron Lowes and me.

There were several great players in the audience that he couldn't get on stage because of time like Don Yonder, Russell Barber and many more.

The musical performances were nothing short of amazing. Blue Ray put together some tremendous combinations. The most riveting performance of the evening was John Nemeth, Kid Andersen, Johnny Cat and Mike Phillips. Unfortunately, I can't remember which of the seven drummers were on stage.

It was an awesome evening of music in an amazing venue. It was a blast!

Tuesday Night Blues Pub Crawl

Last Tuesday night (01/24/2006) was a really fun evening. I met up with the infamous Johnny Cat and we hit the road.

Part One

We dropped by the Mojo Lounge for a moment. RJ Mischo was holding down the fort running his World Famous Tuesday Night Blues Jam. We only hung out for about a half hour or so. In that half hour a lot of really heavy duty stuff was happening.

On the stage were Ron Thompson, John Nemeth, Marc Carino and June Core. Ron and John were ripping it up exchanging extended Earth scorching soloes.

The PA system was broken. RJ and Kid Andersen were attempting to rig up a makeshift PA by connecting the PA speakers to a Fender Twin Reverb. Once they got things connected up, John sang a few songs. It had a real vintage vibe when the quality of PA systems sucked and were heavily distorted, but it sounded kind of very cool like Robert Nighthawk's live performances on Maxwell Street.

Part Two

After a few songs, we took off and headed North up the Interstate and we didn't stop until we reached the Ivy Room in Albany. The Steve Freund Blues Band were in a real groove playing the natural Blues that were reminiscent of 1950's South Side Chicago.

Steve and his band are great. They have this super tight feeling from performing together for the past several years, yet the feeling of the music is really loose and has room to breathe. The band includes: Scott Brenton (guitar and harp), Randy Bermudes (bass) and Robi Bean (drums).

Everytime I have visited the Ivy Room on a Tuesday night, there have been some great musicians hanging around at the bar. Tonight was no exception. Marvin Greene and Rontu Karr were hanging out at the bar.

During the first set, there were a couple of songs which featured some tremendous guitar work and interplay beetween Steve and Scott. This was really demonstrated during an instrumental version of "You Were Wrong." After playing several tunes from Steve's Delmark releases, the band took a break.

In the second set, Steve asked Johnny Cat to join him on stage. They played several classic tunes together. They exchanged some great soloes which made people dizzy. They asked a singer named Lloyd Meadows up to the stage. He can be seen performing with the Zydeco Flames. During the third set, Steve invited me to play a couple of songs with his band and then he asked Rontu onto the stage. As can be expected when Steve is performing, it was a really great night, as usual.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Phantoms Of The Barrelhouse @ The Bistro

It's been a while since the last update. I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Last Friday, January 20th, I caught the Phantoms of the Barrelhouse at The Bistro in beautiful downtown Hayward. The Phantoms of the Barrelhouse are a fun band consisting of Barrelhouse Solly, Phil Harmonica, Scott Miller, Vic Vicena and Artie Chavez.

It was a really relaxing evening filled some old school Blues. Phil Harmonica was getting over a cold, so Barrelhouse Solly did most of the singing. He's a very talented guy with a huge voice. He digs out some of the nearly forgotten tunes in American music history and dishes them up old school style.

Phil Harmonica plays a very deep rich toned harmonica. His style recalls several of the masters of the instrument. He routinely digs into the songbooks of Big Walter Horton, Lazy Lester and Jerry McCain. Scott Miller is a very versatile and talented guitarist. He can go uptown and play the jump blues of the 40's or he can get down and dirty in the alley. The rhythm section of Vic Vicena and Artie Chavez laid down one great groove after another. Artie Chavez keeps time like Big Ben. Vic Vicena was thumping on the upright bass recalling Willie Dixon's playing in the Big Three Trio.

These guys are definitely worth seeing.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 01/10 Edition

This past Tuesday's edition of RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam featured a cavalcade of Bay Area stars and celebrities including: RJ Mischo, Kid Andersen, Mark Carino, June Core, John Nemeth, Kenny Blue Ray, Don Yonder and many, many more...

It was an exciting evening which concluded with a nice tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) featuring Kenny "Blue" Ray, Kid Andersen, RJ and myself.

Special visiting guest from Southern California was Mike "Blue Stew" Miller.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam - 01/03 Edition

Tuesday night marked the inaugural edition of RJ Mischo's World Famous Blues Jam at the Mojo Lounge. R.J. had returned from his three week tour of Mexico. For a guy that just spent three weeks in the sun, you wouldn't know it by looking at him.

When I first walked in I ran into Kenny "Blue" Ray. He showed me a really cool custom Stratocaster that weighed less than ten pounds. It had an absolutely killer tone and he made it sound great.

The house band for the evening was the fabulous Kenny "Blue" Ray (guitar), magnificent Mike Phillips (bass) and the always amazing June Core (drums). R.J. kicked off the first set with a fine version of the Little Walter classic "Juke" followed by "Everything Gonna Be Alright." After that he played a really cool Sonny Boy Williamson entitled "This Is My Apartment" and couple more instrumentals which really got things moving at a rapid pace. One of them featured him switching between four different harmonicas.

RJ asked Wylie Trass up to sing a few songs. A couple of saxophone players, John Lull from the South City Blues Band and another guy I hadn't seen before joined the band. They played a very nice and intense version of Albert King's "Don't Throw You Love On Me So Strong." Kenny "Blue Ray" displayed some fabulous guitar work that was true to the originals.

Marvin Greene came to the stage. He played and sang a few tunes. I've seen Marvin several times, but had never seen him sing before. He's got a good voice and he picks songs to complement his singing.

Next up, RJ asked Johnny Cat and me to the stage. R.J. sang "Blow Wind Blow," before turning the stage over to Mr. Cat who played a really cool version of Freddy King's "The Stumble." Playing that was a first for me, but it was a lot of fun. R.J. returned to the stage and we did a Sonny Boy Williamson tune.

The band took a short break...

Next up was a fine guitar player & singer named Tre. He displayed very nice tone. He also demonstrated expert knowledge of dynamics. His style reminded me of a young Buddy Guy. RJ brought another guitar player and singer named Lisa to the stage for a couple of tunes.

The band took a short break...

"My memory is starting to get a little fuzzy now."

Next up was a female vocalist from Australia named Armelle. Joining her was Kenny "Blue" Ray on guitar, Ryan Eric on guitar and Artie Chavez on drums. They did several tunes before being replaced Stan Erhart on guitar and vocals, Scott Duncan on guitar and vocals, Scott Miller on bass and the electrifying E-Rock on drums.

The final few tunes grouped Arthur Daugherty of the Swamp Coolers with Don Yonder. After a few swamp-infused tunes, R.J. came to the stage for a few numbers and the evening was in the book and a night to be remembered and cherished as the first of the New Year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Final Photos for 2005

I just finished the final installment of photos for 2005 at:

2005: The Bay Area Blues In Review

This last round includes photos of plus another 200 images from some of the best Blues shows the Bay Area had to offer in 2005.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

TWIB - This Week In Blues

Tuesday, December 27th @ The Mojo Lounge

R.J. Mischo was in absentia. The fabulous John Nemeth was the host of the evening's festivities. Mighty Mike Schermer was also present and providing some sparkling guitar work. Mike Phillips (bass) and Marty Dodson (drums) provided a excellent rhythm support. The opening set was absolutely fabulous and found the band in fine form. It was a very cool night.

Thursday, December 29th @ JJ's

Thursday night, I caught Phil Berkowitz and the High Rollers at JJ's Blues Lounge in San Jose. Phil is a very good harmonica player and vocalist that digs deep into the Blues to find songs that are rarely heard anymore. Recently, he released a tribute CD to Louis Jordan. Marvin Greene (guitar), Sid Morris (piano and keys) and Tom Bowers (bass). I forgot the drummer's name.

Phil and company put on a really good show which featured a multitude of special guests including: Don Yonder (guitar), Scott Miller (guitar), Gino Bambino (harmonica), another harp player from the School Of The Blues and me.