Poconos Part 2: The Music

Steve Levine Steve.Levine@CORP.WRGRACE.COM
Thu Jul 31 14:16:56 EDT 1997

Firday night started out nicely with the jam, which I discussed before,
and continued with the Bobby Radcliff show at the Blue Heron. Bobby is
a very  fiery, intense performer. His set included one of my favorite
Radcliff songs "Maybe The Last Time." We left before the second set was
over, and we could hear his guitar across the lake outside our condo.

I spent most of the festival going from backstage to where my friends
had their blanket; from one of the outside stages to the indoor
workshops; or between the workshops, hospitality area and outdoor
stage. There were hardly any festival sets that I watched in their
entirety, but I took pictures of pretty much all of the acts. Here are
some highlights/favorites:


Blind Mississippi Morris - I had never heard of him before and really
enjoyed his singing and harp playing. He sometimes plays some fast, but
very tasteful runs, and never overdoes it (unlike some harp players who
have made the million notes per second sound their trademarks). I also
had the pleasure of  jammming  with him a little (don't worry - I
didn't ask to sit in with him! This was in the hospitality room - more
on that later).

Byther Smith - Nice BB King style guitar and vocals. I saw him a couple
of days before, and he seemed a little bit more animated at the
festival. One of my friends complained that Byther was just covering BB
King songs, but I liked what I heard.

Paul Rishell & Annie Raines - What can I say about them that hasn't
already been said? They are friends of mine, and it's always a pleasure
to see them. The workshop was mostly performance, but they answered
questions from the audience between songs. I went to both of their
workshop sets. The second one was more crowded, with more electric
playing than the first.

The Paul deLay Band - Excellent! Even better than when I saw them a
week before. Just like with Paul and Annie, there's not much I can say
about Paul that I haven't said before - excellent harp, vocals and
songwriting, with a kickass band. Liz Sykes drove seven hours to see
them, and she was satisfied (apparently she has a crush on Paul. Don't
worry Liz,  I have one on Annie Raines!).  :-)

W.C. Clark - Good set. This was the first time I saw him. Looks like he
is still recovering from his car accident, as he was sitting down
during his performance. I'm not a big SRV fan, but I've always loved
"Cold Shot." It was nice hearing the original version.

Bobby Blue Bland - Another first for me. Some say his voice was "off"
but he sounded fine to me, and he was a very appropriate headliner for
the first night of the festival.

We headed to the Blue Heron that night, after relaxing at the condo for
an hour or so. Got there during Debbie Davies' second set, which mostly
featured Lonnie Shields fronting her band. It was a good set, but I
would have liked to hear Debbie sing and play more.


Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones - Good harp playing, but I would have liked to
hear more. It seems like he played more guitar than harp, but this was
one of the sets I showed up late for. Detroit Junior sounded great, and
looked like he was having a great time.

Larry Johnson - Larry is one of the most unique and interesting
acoustic guitarists I've heard recently. He has a strong, thumping bass
line, which drives his Piedmont style picking. He is a very personable
performer, talking to the audience during and between songs. Another
thing I like about hs performances is he never seems to stop playing -
he lightly picks his guitar while talking to the audience about the
song he's going into.

Jerry Ricks - another extremely talented acoustic guitaist (although he
had his acoustic plugged into an amp), with a variety of styles and and
excellent voice. The workshop audience was pretty light during his
second set, which is disappointing, but not unexpected at festival with
better known electric acts outside. I highly recommend seeing Ricks and
Larry Johnson live if you get a chance.

Carey Bell - I've never seen a bad Carey Bell show, and his festival
set was no exception. His harp playing is always an inspiration (and he
didn't overdo that organ effect this time - something he tends to do at
club gigs). Carey and guitarist Steve Jacobs (one of my favorite DC
area guitarists) really work together well.

Coco Montoya - I was pleasantly surprised by his set. I had always
assumed in the past that he was more of a blues/rock player, but he
played a lot of Albert Collins style guitar. I left before his set was
over and missed his jam with Debbie Davies (you thinks she asked to sit
in, or did the band ask her? :-)

Bobby Rush - Too much fun!!! Bobby doesn't just sing and play harp - he
puts on a show! A fun, bawdy, sexy show! He has an interesting band,
with two drummers and two bass players (and I believe one of the bass
players is his son). And those dancers! Wow! It rained some during his
set, but that didn't stop him. He pointed to the water on the stage,
and said something  "I'm gonna do this shit until the stage is dry!"
Bobby played a long set, and had Shemeika Copeland to do one song with him.

We got to the jam at the Blue Heron pretty late. Lonnie Shields was
playing there. Apparently Carey Bell was there earlier, but we didn't
see him. I played on one song with Ron Kraemer & The Hurricanes,
sharing the mic with another harp player (which turned into a three
harp jam when Kevin Magowan stepped up to one of the mics and started
playing). It was nice (briefly) playing with Ron, and I got some nice
feedback from the audience and some other harp players.

I caught bits and pieces of some of the other performers: Saffire,
Texas Johnny Brown, Joe Louis Walker, Lady Bianca and Tutu Jones. I
liked what I saw by all of them, but none of them did anything very
memorable (although I think Tutu Jones got off stage and went into the
audience with his guitar).

Overall it was a nice mix of blues styles, with some legendary
performers and some up and coming acts. Musically, the festival had
something to offer for everyone.



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