Blues Localvore – chefjimi stays home for a change ! -- by chefjimi

Posted on 7/30/2010 by Chefjimi

Good folks, sooner or later it had to happen. Yes it did - yours truly, the roving reporter for American Blues News stayed home and got to enjoy some fine, fine Blues in Rochester, NY. As a matter of fact I came home early from South Carolina so I could attend the Big Rib BBQ & Blues Fest on Saturday to see Harper, Roomful of Blues and Charley Musselwhite. By the way, while you are chuckling at the thought of Blues in Rochester, NY - remember that the great Son House, lived here for many years and was rediscovered in Rochester, NY, oh so why don't we have some sort of plaque commemorating this here ? Ah, that's another story for another time.

DAY 1:

When we last saw Harper and the Midwest Kind they were narrowly escaping from a pile up in North Carolina, their van got mostly totaled, but everyone was fine and groovy. So getting the opportunity to catch up again in so short a time was like an extra scoop of Dulce de' Leche on top of your sundae !

The band was just returning from Briggs Farm festival where they have an interesting way of running the festival. It seems they start with the headliners and work their way down to the 'opening' acts. This seems to insure the fans turn out early and gets the party started in full swing. Harper opened with his version of the Star Spangled Banner at Briggs Farm and word on the street is that he nailed it (not bad for an Australian immigrant).

They hit the Rochester stage at about 1:45, and played a set that reminded me of the old blues masters, - rapid fire songs, hardly any breaks, and just giving the audience a full frontal attack of harp, guitar, bass and drums. The Midwest kind has been in this form for about six months and it was/is obvious that they have hit their stride and are gelling on so many levels. Marc Dixon is a truly entertaining drummer, versed in world music his rhythm and syncopation is a thing of beauty (even on the venue drums).

They finished their set and had just enough time to grab some tasty 'Q, and head off to Michigan for another festival, oh yeh and there are rumours that their van was going to be really ready this time somewhere in Peoria, along with their back line equipment!
Speaking of 'Q', this was a great place to sample BBQ from all over the country. Florida, Texas, and even Rochester was representing big time here. I decided that it was my duty to try 1/2 racks of just ribs from three places, and ample amounts of liquid adult beverages to wash it all down. Of course the one I liked best didn't make the finals, but I will see if I can select the peoples choice next year.

Shortly thereafter the surprise band of the festival brought a combination of spectacle and pageantry to the show - Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra. This 12 (well sometimes 16, maybe 18) piece band blends New Orleans party music, Soul, a good helping of jam-bandy Roots Rock and a righteous splash of good, upbeat Gospel without the religious overtones. The band likes to call it secular gospel!

Decked out in their finest whites (accented with the appropriate gold, purple and green of Mardi Gras), they break out parasols, start each set with a parade through the audience and throw out hundreds of Mardi Gras beads over the course of a show. When the parade starts grooving the crowd can't help but have a good time. Led by BroJo on vocals and acoustic guitar, this band – or community of musicians ? - have got everything. A killer horn section, sweet soul sistahs who are as pleasing to the eye as they were on the ears, rocking electric guitar and pocket bass man, and a keyboard player who serves as the conductor of the orchestra.

As the day's hot sun started to wane we were treated to Roomful of Blues. Always exciting, and engaging they enticed the crowd to dance and boogie thru their roughly one-hour set. Led by guitarist Chris Vachon and his iconic headband, and Phil Pemberton on vocals, Roomful of Blues never ceases to amaze me as to the professional level of their players. Rich Lataille, Mark Early and Doug Woolverton comprise the tightest horn section that I know of. Multi versatile (and adept) Travis Early on keys (he is one fine guitar player also). The back line is well cared for by Ephraim Powell and Rochester's most famous upright bass player, John Turner. Their high energy show took us to a very quick change over and the featured artist of the day – Charlie Musselwhite.

His first recording was under the name of 'Memphis Charlie' wherein he played with Big Walter Horton, and shortly thereafter released his first album 'Stand Back – Here comes Charlie Musselwhite's Southside Band' in 1966. Since then Charlie has released over 20 albums, as well as guesting on a slew of other artists recordings. He is due to release THE WELL, his first full-band recording in which he wrote or co-wrote every track on the album, on Alligator Records.

What can I say, when you see someone of Charlies' stature – you want to like him, you want them to blow you away. Many times we set standards that these artists cannot attain, well Charlie did it - and more. Truly one of his best performances of late. His work with guitarist Matthew Stubbs seemed to me like two kids discovering what they could do together if they just go for it. Working off each others energy and skills they provided a lesson for all players in the audience and in the business, trust each other – trust your ability to play the Blues and the Blues will take good care of you. As it grew darker the shadows from the sun's rays disappeared – to be replaced by the coolness of the oncoming night. The perfect metaphor for Charlie and the bands performance that night, hot, cool and in the end truly satisfying.

DAY 2:

Since I felt I was on a hot streak I decided to go over to the Dinosaur BBQ (where the music is always free) and get me some Anthony Gomes. Anthony has returned to his Blues roots with such force that he could hardly be contained the the bricks and mortar of the Dino on this night. Featuring Chicago based keyboardist Ladell Fitzpatrick, who provides a righteous touch of gospel and soul to the sound which seems to harness Anthonys very fine singing voice. Anthony was guitar slinger, cheer leader, prayer leader, sexually taunting rock star and little kid all rolled into one. Just to prove a point he did this set with a sterling sit-in drummer, Joe Colla, and a funky demon of a bass player Ralph Reitinger (formerly of Harper), both not regulars with him, and one day of practice under their collective belts – kudos to them all.

Anthony now lives in Nashville, where he re-located to work on his song writing skills (good choice of places for that), and it has paid off handsomely. Previewing some of his new material before a packed house, his writings show a new maturity and sensibility and a deeper understanding of how to convey the message in a song. His guitar playing has not suffered at the dedication to the words of his music, but they now seem to be in agreement rather than at battle. Anthony will be heading to the studio early fall of this year, I am anxiously awaiting the results.

Day 3:

Barely being able to pull my butt outta the Dinosaur after Anthony's show, I found myself back the next night for 'The Sauce Boss'. Bill Wharton (Sauce Boss) has cooked gumbo on stage for over 170,000 fans for free. He mixes his own spicy original music, a swampy Florida Slide Guitar Blues--and adds his famous Liquid Summer hot sauce right into every night's cooking demonstration of his own gumbo recipe. It's a multi-sensory soul shouting picnic of rock and roll brotherhood. And at the end of the night, everybody eats. So how cool is that!

Featuring 'the hardest working drummer' in the business, Justin Headly, who pounds out rhythms and flams, and para diddles that are akin to a virtual assault on your senses, and bassist Jonathan Groomes who provides the perfect compliment to both Bill and Justin's deep dark blues sound. The sauce Boss plays a fun filled variety of Blues that incorporates various influences from around the South, but the influence of Florida are most obvious.

The stage set-up is not your usual one. Prominently featured in front is a propane tank on a stand and a giant stock pot, where he will proceed to make the gumbo for the nights' show. Working his way thru various styled Blues numbers he will occasionally stop and shout 'time to stir the gumbo” or “time to add the shrimp” and then proceed to do just that. As the dance floor fills with people hopin' & boppin' to the music, he implores them to take a moment and stir the gumbo, 'cos u don't want to burn the roux ! Everyone is more than willing to stir it up, and he proceeds to give a double entendre cooking lesson to the folks who are stomping and shouting –enjoying every minute if it.

At one point Bill will parade his Planet Gumbo stock pot (used for donations to food banks and other charities) into the crowd and set up a percussion bang off with Justin, his drummer. Culminating with a very happy bottle of beer (you will have to see it) that is then added to the gumbo. A short break takes us to another set and then everyone gets fed – and its a great gumbo! Shrimp, Okra, Zucchini, smoked sausage and other ingredients blended together with just the right amount of heat. A perfect end to a great night of Blues music, charitable donations, and good friends.

So that's my helping of "localvore sees the blues". It was great to be able to go out and see all these super bands in the friendly confines of my current town. Please folks, go out there and see live music,it is way better than CD's, IPODs, MP3's and DVD's – support the musicians, buy their disks at the show, then buy a t-shirt or a poster for a friend. Be active in the Blues community and the Blues community will take good care of you.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease

If you enjoyed this serving of the Blues, you might want to check out my other articles, as I roam around seeking out the Blues wherever they are happening.

all photos used by permission
courtesy of Leslie K. Joseph, Nelson Onofre, chefjimi.

copyright © 2010 – bluesuitspeaks, all rights reserved.

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

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