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.