Now, we all know I'm not one to get too excited about much (SHUT UP!
), but this Johnny Long guy has me all in a tizzy. Why? Because he has everyone
in a tizzy, and I can't wait to find out the reason(s). In case you missed it last week, here's what Steady Rollin' has to say about Johnny:
After a weekend of seeing Ron Thompson at the Outlook, it is easy to see why the man has been described as a living legend and national treasure...and why he is in the Blues Hall of Fame. Everyone told me last September what I had missed out on when I missed that show, and damn if they weren’t right. I sure don’t plan on missing any of his local shows in the future.
I met Johnny in Denver about 1975. He was a friend of Jerry Portnoy, Muddy's harp player. Muddy used to play 5 nights in a row at Ebbet's Field, a nightclub named after where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play. On a night off, Jerry and I went to Johnny's gig in Denver. Jeff Lodsun was playing drums with Johnny. Johnny played some of the nastiest, deepest, most raw Blues I ever heard. I arranged for Johnny to play an opening set at Muddy's show, and I taped it. I still have it somewhere. Johnny's version of "Love Her With a Feeling" is the one I hear inside my head when I play that song. I saw Johnny again for the first time since those days about 4 years ago at the Blues Music Awards. It's a lot of miles and a lot of years later. I was very impressed with an album he had made for the Delta Groove label. No doubt he's an even deeper Bluesman than he was so long ago. ~Bob Margolin~
Like I said, I can't wait! This Thursday is Long's first Outlook gig, and over the course of the last month or so, I've had conversations with musicians--GROWN-ASS MEN--who turn into giggling teenage cheerleaders at the mention of Long's name. It's wild!
I can't remember a time when my curiosity has been so ridiculously piqued. I'm going early. Even the ever-working Johnny O took the night off. He's joining me at my table. Lionel and Long go way back, and Lionel recently informed me that he's playing with him as well tomorrow night. Why am I always the last to know?
Friday night begins at 6:00 with a Cassie Taylor Short Set, followed by Rory Block. I've heard she's a smokin' guitarist, so we know Chick will be there. Here's what the Blues Foundation has to say:
"Today she is widely regarded as the top female interpreter and
authority on traditional country blues worldwide."
The Blues Foundation
She's also currently nominated for Acoustic Artist of the Year and Acoustic Album of the year. That's heavy. It's her Maiden Voyage with us as well, so let's all be on our Best Blues Behavior for her. Oh, and guys, she's REALLY EASY ON THE EYES! Hey, that rhymes...
Saturday, the Informants are back, and...WE'RE HAVING OUR FIRST BLUES WEDDING "RECEPTION!" Our own Tarry Underwood and Jennifer Binford are tying the knot earlier in the day followed by an off-site reception, then they're bringing the celebration to us! So join us in partying with them on their first evening as Husband and Wife. [Note to self and Jill: WATERPROOF MASCARA!].
Now, here's something new: Next Tuesday, March 31, will be the first Gretchen Troop-driven jam. Gretchen will be hosting one jam per month, on the last Tuesday. For those of you who witnessed the First Annual Dan King Appreciation Day last month, you know the girl can run a jam! Mark your calendars for next Tuesday. Gretchen is putting together some stellar talent for us.
Permit me to look back for a moment. The Ron Thompson weekend and benefit were wonderful. I think the best description of Ron is, he's as good as anyone, but better than most. He's also a lovely, delightful, wonderful, thoughtful, funny man who just so happens to one of my Fiancées (even though he temporarily forgot...well, he was pretty ill there for a while). Since so many have asked, I will tell you that Ron was feeling exponentially better by the time he arrived in Colorado. We have that effect on people. On his behalf, thank all of you so much for your support and well wishes. I know how much he appreciates it. Speaking of appreciation, here's Chick:
Ron is the consummate Blues performer; I mean is there anything he can’t do?!?! Like Friday night, he opened the show solo and had the Outlook crowd spellbound while he coxed every possible sound (and some I swear that were impossible) from his acoustic guitar. Blending his picking, feet stomping, guitar slapping and as sweet a blues voice s as I’ve heard, he simply dazzled us. After 30 minutes or so the band joined him and Ron continued with some of the hottest electric guitar you have ever heard. Smoking hot sounds. He even added a little harmonica and then without taking a breath he slid behind the keyboards and pounded on those 88s as if that was really his main instrument (I think he even hit the spaces between the keys). Hard driving boogie-woogie. And then an awesome version of “I Ain't Got No Home” where his voice became an array of characters and even took on a hilarious falsetto version. Then in a flash he was on his feet with a guitar strapped on again and reminding us that despite his piano expertise Ron is a guitarman as good as anyone you can conjure.
Though, maybe more than piano player or guitar player, what Ron Thompson is, is a showman. Everything he did was perfection with no holds barred. He threw himself into the show. On his feet, dancing, playing the guitar, off the stage and into the crowd. You want a real treat? Get to his shows early enough to sit close and have Ron playing that guitar 2 feet from your face like he did to me..WOW..I could barely follow his hands. They were everywhere up and down, over and under and all around that thing. He also has a special trick he throws in where I swear, it looks like it slips out of his hands and the guitar just hangs in air for a second until his hands shoot out and grab it in mid note and keep on playing. Dazzling, mesmerizing, all of that! You know, Ron missed Thursday's show because of a relapse, and I sure would have understood if he was a little run down…he played anything but ‘tired’. Sheesh, it was the other way around; the audience could barely keep up with him! Heck, the finale was John Lee hooker boogie that lasted 25 minutes and he thanked us like it was over at least 3 times with a quick jerked stop..only to kick back in fullthrottle and keep us pleading for more.
Here’s a great quote by Ron that fits him perfectly, “Look, I got problems just like everybody else. I try to forget my problems when I play my music, and I try to create for the audience a way for them to forget their problems too. I try to get the people into the spirit. The blues is a spiritual thing. When I’m on stage I go into a trance.” And he kept everyone of us in a trance as well.
And as an added kick, it was my wife Patti’s birthday. So when the lovely Jill Watkins bolted on stage at a break to sing her “Happy Birthday”, Ron smiled slipped back on stage and accompanied her on piano and singing along. Thank you Ron, you ARE a national treasure. An Entertainer with a capital E!!
But hey that was only half of the Ron Thompson weekend. Sunday was the Ron Thompson benefit and I would like to thank everyone who came out to help this great blues entertainer. Once again, our blues community showed how much they care about their music and the people behind it. It was also my birthday but I don’t think I can take credit for the outstanding crowd that showed up.
Everyone did a fantastic job in turning this into a special event that netted a great donation to help Ron with his recent medical bills. Ron opened with another sparkling solo set and then sat in on at least 3 other jam sets. The blues talent on stage was awesome, running the range from 6 year old Sonny Boy Aidan, to Blues Hall of Famer and legend Ron T. Thanks to Erik Boa & Sonny Boy Aidan, Rex Peoples, Erica Brown, Randall Dubis, Teresa Lynne, Lionel Young, Mark Diamond, Joe Forrest ( Iron man drummer with an iron bladder), Jessica Rowand, Paul Rogalski, Roco Defranco, Jack Hadley, Lethal Lisa and Rick McCall, Jodie Woodward, Clay Kirkland, Kate Keiser, Jerry Deall, and on and on. The jamming was high energy stuff. To me, the essence of live music is seeing something you can’t get on a CD, or see again if you weren’t there for the original. Being a non-musician I am always astounded at how a bunch of performers can blend together with folks they hadn’t played with before…and sound so damn amazing!!! Highlights for me were every time Ron was onstage, of course, and the ultimate show-stealers: Erik Boa and his harp-playing son, “Sonny Boy”Aidan . Aidan is a killer, and had almost as many jammers trying to get onstage with him as they were for Ron T. He did a sizzling boogie jam with his dad, a great set with Erica, and some sweet dueling harp-playing with Teresa Lynne.
Thank you Teresa & Aidan for doing a great Happy Birthday song for us, and I want to thank Dan King & Honey for everything they did for Patti & me (great cake, Dan !!!!!! ). I really want to thank EVERYONE at the Outlook, fans, staff, and performers, for making it a special birthday weekend for the two of us as well as a great Ron Thompson weekend! Events like this emphasize what a special place the Outlook has become. More than just a blues venue, the people and performers who come here truly create a ‘blues society’ with everyone working together, pulling together, and celebrating together. ~Chick Cavallero~
(Continues Next Column)
Thu 3/19 - Johnny Long ($10) Originally ($15)Fri 3/27 - Rory Block ($15)
Sat 3/28 - Informants
Sun 3/29 - Jazz Jam w/ Mark
Wed 4/1 - Songwriter Night w/ Jenn Cleary
Guest: Justin Roth
Thu 4/2 - Albert Cummings($20)
Fri 4/3 - Delta Sonics
Sat 4/4 - Mojomama
Sun 4/5 - Jazz Jam w/ Mark
Thanks, Chick, and you're right. Oh, and Sunday was also our one year anniversary: I met Chick and Patti last year on Chick's birthday at a Teresa Lynne gig. Happy Anniversary!
I recently mentioned that the Prodigal Son of the Outlook is working with John Catt and others for a benefit in Dallas for my pet project, Blue Star Connection. Here's a quick note from John with the details (I'm already looking at airfare and hotels):
The Grand County Blues Society and Category 5 Amps have joined forces for a night of music May 24th at the Grenada Theatre in Dallas to benefit the Blue Star Connection.
Blue Star Connection is a program we created to put instruments into the hands of kids going through cancer and cancer treatment. It also gets them into shows with the help of the artists and agents. We call it the "cure for the cure".
We have several great blues artists on the bill. Bob Margolin, Zac Harmon, Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King, Sean Carney, Jon Richardson and Diunna Greenleaf. With more surprises to come. Category 5 has rented the Grenada Theatre and there will be a silent auction . Anyone wishing to donate please contact me at email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org . You can read all about or donate to Blue Star at www.grandblues.org . "Let the kids do the talkin'."
Speaking of Bob and Diunna. Guess what? Are you sitting? I had a lovely 3-way phone chat with Bob and Diunna yesterday...why? Because BOB'S COMING AND HE'S BRINGING DIUNNA WITH HIM!!! Next month, on April 17 and 18, these two are going to throw down in ways I've heard are incomparable. Bob has mentioned the idea of a gig with her in the past, but last Friday, they had a gig together in Ohio, and it got Bob to thinking. I love it when he thinks! We are keeping ticket prices at $10, so THEY WILL SELL OUT!!! Diunna's buzz is huge, and it's her first time at the Outlook, and possibly Boulder, I'm not sure. I'll find out. Bob is also doing some of the promotion, so again, THEY WILL SELL OUT! Get your tickets NOW.
Here's a little something else coming to the Outlook for all you closeted Blues musicians. Come out of the closet and play proudly!
On April 11th from 1pm-3pm, Gerry Hundt, from Nick Moss and The Fliptops, and Ronnie Shellist will be putting on a workshop for
guitarists, harmonica players, and any lead player who would like to get insight as to how to most effectively play blues with other musicians. Once again, it is being held at the Boulder Outlook in the large conference room near the bar. We encourage everyone to come early and eat/drink at Blues and Greens and/or stay afterward to eat and drink. The cost of this event will be $20. Any help in advertising this event is much appreciated. It will go something like this:
Blue Ensemble Workshop: One of the most important aspects of playing blues is accompanying your fellow musicians in a way that both supports and adds to the music. In this workshop, the architecture of Chicago blues (the mother of rock 'n' roll and numerous strains of roots music) will be broken down and presented interactively. We'll take an in-depth look at some of the blues' most effective sidemen: Eddie Taylor, Robert Lockwood, Jimmy Rogers, Big Walter, and Little Walter. Guitar players, you'll learn how to creatively keep rhythm behind other guitars and harmonica, propelling the soloist or vocalist before and after your turn to shine. Harmonica players will learn how to effectively play "underneath" and around the vocalist, as well as comping patterns. We will also discuss how to most effectively add to the music without getting in the way. These ideas can applied to any style of roots music. There will be plenty of jamming, so - most importantly - come prepared to have some fun!
Ronnie Shellist, Denver blues harmonica player and teacher and Gerry Hundt of Chicago IL will be putting on this one time workshop. Gerry is a two time blues music award nominee for instrumentalist of the year and three time nominee for band of the year (Nick Moss and the Fliptops). He plays guitar, bass, harmonica, keys and drums as well. Ronnie has been teaching harmonica to players around the world and has plenty of experience as a full time musician here in Denver,CO.
Jukebox is coming along - Some songs are hard to find so if you can, send an MP3...
What is your favorite Blues song? We're going to put a jukebox on thewebsite so you can hear yours and at least25 of your fellow subscribers choices any time
you want.Drop us a line here and we'll put it in the queue. (If it's your own song, send us an MP3)