Star Spangled Blues Gathering -- Saturday 1/15/2000 (long)

maxdog maxdog@unr.net
Wed Jan 19 02:38:26 EST 2000


The Star Spangled Blues Gathering
in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dave's CC Club
Tallahassee, FL

I climbed out of my tent at about 10 AM and helped setup and man the admissions
gate again. The fest itself kicked off at
noon. First up was the Dhali Lama Blues Band out of Ft. Pierce, FL. I didn't see
them except for one song while
running an errand in the stage area. I'd never seen them before but from what I
heard they sounded good. They are
basically a three piece, electric guitar, standup bass and drums, but they had
brought a friend along as second guitar
(40's Gibson archtop he got for $250). I only got to hear a little bit but would
like to hear more.

Next up was Ft Lauderdale's Black River Circus. I don't care much for them and
am going to pretty much let it go at that.
To be fair though, I didn't really hear much of their set and am going on a past
experience with them. They were the
only group to bring a "guitar tech" with them; why I don't know. No one else
found it necessary.

One of my stipulations when asked to work the gate was that I get off in time to
hear the next group, one of my
favorites, Packrat's SmokeHouse. I love these guys! Swamp blues from New Symrna
Beach, FL. "What's your flavor baby?" If these guys can't get your feet moving,
check into a mortuary 'cause you're dead! If you ever run across one of their
CDs,
buy it because they keep selling out. If they come to your area, go see them.

Next was Floyd Miles with Charles Atkins sitting in for a few songs. Floyd was
backed by King Snake Records guitarist
Warren King, Chris Walden on drums and a great bass player and a keyboard player
whose names I never got. I've seen
Floyd on several occasions where he tended to stick more with covers and maybe
his "hit" "Going Back to Daytona."
This time was something very different. The band was hot and he was hot. He
played mostly his own material which he
should be proud of. One song in particular caught my ear, "Canine Potential." "I
got canine potential, baby I was born
to roam." This was the best set I've ever seen by him.

For some reason Eddie Kirkland took the next time slot though Johnny Rawls was
scheduled to play. This was either
his last or next to last gig before heading over to Europe for a two month tour
according to Johnnie Marshall. Johnnie
is picking up Eddie's guitar player as his bass player for those two months.
Eddie's set was typical for him, rough and raw
blues all the way. His style may not be everyone's cup of tea but he is a
bluesman through and through. The real deal,
nothin' but the truth!

Johnny Rawls, how smooth can one man get? He is always a crowd pleaser. Great
soul-blues vocals, great guitar, killer
band, it just doesn't get much better. His cousin on synth guitar really made
Johnny's set stand out from the rest.
Fast Eddie on drums and Greg Alan on bass gave it a rock solid rhythm section
and I mean rock solid. If you've never
seen Fast Eddie on drums do yourself a favor and catch Johnny live when you get
a chance and watch that little
dynamo on drums. He's more entertaining than some bands I've seen just by
himself.

Denise took the slot that had been allocated for Kenny and Raful Neal, they took
her slot the next day. Denise LaSalle was Denise LaSalle. Quality soul-blues
with sass. She wasn't as bawdy as I've seen her be but the sexual
innuendoes were there in mass quantity. Her show isn't quite as dynamic as
Johnny Rawls before her or Bobby Rush after
her which may cloud some people's minds to the fact that she is a very good
performer. Not that I saw anybody acting
bored while she was on stage at all. It's just that when Bobby Rush hits the
stage you tend to forget everybody else.

Bobby Rush was the final act of the second day of the festival. As his tour bus
was driving up the dirt road leading to Dave's CC Club, three women who were
working the gate got out in the road and blocked it's path. Then they started
doing the "booty dance" that Bobby's girls are known for. The sheriff's who were
there to direct traffic were trying to get them out of the road but they
wouldn't leave. The bus driver called Bobby up to the front and he cracked up
laughing. They said he jumped off the bus and started hugging them, saying
jokingly that he was going to hire them for his entourage.

When Bobby got off the bus he was a bundle of energy grabbing people he
recognized and giving them big hugs.  There is a guy who comes to the club every
time Bobby plays who is a bit of a character. He's a typical South Georgia long
haired country boy who loves Lynryd Skynyrd but somehow, someway he hooked up
with Bobby. He caught Bobby behind the stage and listening to these two trade
lines was a riot. They were hugging each other and carrying on raising hell. It
was almost like two guys playing the dozens. The country boy kept on saying
"Bobby's my man, I love this motherfucker!" in a very deep Georgia accent to
everyone who came near. And it was obvious that Bobby was loving it too.

Bobby's show was one of the best I've seen him do. He takes you from down home
blues to urban funk so easily that most don't notice the transition. With drums,
keys, two guitars and two basses the band was hotter than I've ever seen them.
Especially one of the guitar players who I heard used to be Katie Webster's
guitar player, probably Vashti Jackson. He was so hot he was smokin'. They
complimented Bobby's underrated harp playing perfectly. Even though Bobby only
had two girls with him this time, "Sue" and "Scandalicious", I actually like
that part of the show better. These two girls have been with Bobby for a while
and are fit into Bobby's routines more smoothly than some of the others he has
had.

At 59 (according to AMG, I've heard him say he was older) Bobby is in better
shape than most in their forties. He prowls the stage like a cat, jumping up to
do leg splits three feet off the stage while blowing harp. He works the stage
from side to side drawing every part of the audience into his world with a sly
wink and a virtual poke in the ribs. He is bawdy but not vulgar. It's all like
an inside joke among friends over an underlying layer of respect. If he wins the
Handy this year for best blues performance it's because he earned it.

So. if you were going to get someone inside the club for an "After the Fest"
show who would you get who could follow Bobby Rush? Why of course, Ms. E. C.
Scott! Her show inside was every bit as hot as her show on the big stage the
night before except this time you got twice as much. A pair of powerhouse sets
by one of the best around. I forgot to mention yesterday that on Friday
afternoon she was in the kitchen at Dave's CC Club cooking potato salad for the
fest. Ms. E. C. Scott's "Show me Your Love" Potato Salad!!! Hey, what can I say?
The name says it all.

After the club show was over I hung around the bonfire talking to Johnnie
Marshall. I've known him personally for a
year or so and he is an instantly likable guy but after hearing him talk about
the business, life on the road, his relationship with his manager and JSP
records (both good), problems keeping a band together, his plans for the future,
etc. I have a deeper respect for him. He knows what he is doing and where he
wants to go. He's doing everything he can to get there. If you are worried about
the future of the blues, look no further. One of the torch bearers is living
just up the road from here in the little town of Whigham, Ga. I asked him what
were his favorite clubs to play in. Dave's CC Club of course (he got his start
there), a lesbian bar in the Carolinas (he say they cut loose when he plays),
and clubs in Wyoming and the Dakotas (he says folks in these areas are some of
the liveliest audiences he gets). Least favorite, I ain't sayin'. He needs the
gigs.

One more day to go.
--
maxdog



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