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.

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