This Week's Action
Side Streets: Steph n Rock
By Tom Pallen
So check this out - a tale of musical mastery that unfolded at the most unexpected time – while I was shooting pool. Now, I must admit that my ears are still trying to recover from the sonic adventure I was dragged into that night. Picture this: a duo gracing the stage, or rather, should I say, an ensemble if we're being generous. You see, there was an overworked Band-in-a-Box contraption that seemed to be an integral part of this musical revelation, or should I say, goatrope. This while I'm shooting pool like Stevie Wonder…
I couldn't quite tell if it was a duo, trio, or a full-fledged orchestra because one half of this dynamic duo appeared to be more glued to her seat than a big empty beer glass to a coaster. Now I feel kinda bad, but it was genuinely challenging to decipher her appearance, given her unwavering commitment to staying seated. On the other side of the stage stood a gentleman who bore a striking resemblance to none other than Captain Kangaroo – not the most intimidating presence one might hope for, but hey, at least he had peace symbol earrings. It's not every day you see a man simultaneously channeling a children's TV icon and the Summer of Love. And he pulled it off.
I know this might sound like a recipe for disaster, and you'd be right. However, these two, well, the Captain and the Setter, managed to pull it off. Against all odds, they charmed their way through a classic tune by someone called the Archies, simplifying the original groove and, I kid you not, doing reasonably well at it. It was almost as if they took a relic from the past and gave it a makeover. A makeover that, while not necessarily flattering, was, in its own unique way, oddly appealing.
But let's not get carried away here. While Rock and Steph displayed a certain level of musical prowess, I can't say that my pool game improved in the slightest during their performance. In fact, if anything, it took a nosedive. They say that music should enhance one's experience, but in this case, it felt more like an uninvited guest crashing a party.
They sing it best when they sing nothing at all.
Battle of the Bands
By Mike Todhunter
For all you sophisticated cool cats and those out there that love their wine, this is not about you, but about a local can't miss establishment set in the boonies of Chino Valley ( home to AZ's Pronghorn ) that offers a backyard experience like few others. Amid the historic elms of Chino Valley and its unparalleled natural canopy that they provide, the Granite Creek Vineyards will feed your thirst for a good time when on Oct. 21 (gates open at 11am.) they will sponsor a battle of the bands as a fundraiser to support their philanthropic efforts to rescue cats and other critters that have been abandoned or disabled. Combining fun and a good cause- now how can you beat that?
Fate interceded when Ginny and I stumbled upon this local marvel with the help of our blues buddies, Les and Vicki, when they alerted us about a Muddbone bluesrocker's show on Sept. 30 prior to the recently scheduled Battle of the Bands on Oct. 21. Nestled under an umbrella of old-growth American Elms, like AZ's version of a lost Kincaid, the elms tucked in nicely with an A-Frame cabin, a red barn, and a wine shop- all colorfully and tastefully done. No strip-mall establishment here. And to beat the band (no pun intended) , upon leaving we were ceremoniously greeted by several free-roaming peacocks that mistook parking lot cars for nests. Perched there atop the cars, it was a glorious farewell to great inspired music, a relaxing afternoon and AZ flora at its best.
That day I ran into an old-timer by the name of Tom who gave me a brief and informative history of how these giant elms came to pass in Chino Valley. Tom said that when the railroad arrived in Chino Valley in 1887, the Prescott and AZ Central and then the Santa Fe Prescott and Phoenix Line, it looped from its main artery south to transport materials to nearby mining towns- Jerome and Prescott. Railroad authorities, ecologically-minded, long before it was vogue, according to Tom, planted the elms knowing how they would thrive when planted in our hot, dry climate-a perfect environment for trees destined for future family picnics. Chino Valley and Seligman became the benefactors of the railroad's foresight.
Chino Valley played a pre-eminent role in the development of AZ. Established in1864 as our first territorial government, military leader Lt. Ariel Whipple of the US Army Cavalry chose Chino Valley because it offered good water, firewood, and building timber. Citing Del Rio Springs as the source water of the Verde River, Whipple oversaw the construction of a 19-mile pipeline that brought water to residents of Prescott and its gold miners. Just north of Chino Valley and Del Rio Springs lies the town of Paulden and Hells Canyon where a railroad bridge was built across the canyon- currently near the home of the Drake Cement Plant.
Historically located, the Winey Cat Granite Creek Vineyards acknowledge our love for cats and like all the Lord's critters, we need to do good by them. For most, if you don't like dogs, you probably like cats. From the time of the ancient Egyptians cats have been attributed mystical qualities. Common lore says that if dropped they land on all fours; they have nine lives ( eight more than me); you can't herd them; they're good mousers and if you want love you will get a dog; if you want to give love, then you get a cat.
We all have our favorite cat stories and most likely a favorite cat. I speak with some experience because my mother was a cat lady- for good or bad, she loved her feline friends. Domestic or feral, she never saw a cat that she didn't like. She'd feed a stray before she's feed herself. If attacked and clawed, she'd play it off. But, to be sure, there were some real feline characters. Mickey, who was rescued from the Galveston hurricane flood waters, had no equilibrium but a great attitude. He'd standup teetering in 180-degrees all at once, take two or three steps and fall flat on his face or just kind of tip over. He'd get up and try again- same result all the time purring like an outboard motor. Tiger loved to eat- a gluttonous fat cat , for sure, and mother would never deny a cat kitty food so Tiger got big. The bigger he got, the more he'd purr. You could hear his motorboat rooms away stoking his boiler. He come up to you, plop down, and hang out until he got his proper attention- a true cool cat. Miles away just south of the Canadian border, Wayne ,the maple syrup farmer , and Ginny's West Chazy, NY cousin, tends over 1,000 maple trees. Pulling onto his farm you will pass his barn, a relic as old as the American Revolution and more frightening than Hitchcock's Birds , only this movie would be appropriately be called " The Cats". We quit counting the cat herd exiting the barn at a hundred, but like the Chinese army, they just kept coming at us. Wayne, an old-school bachelor, keeps them as mousers and doesn't feed them. You want to live in that barn, you have to earn your keep! Needless to say, you won't find a mouse from West Chazy to the Canadian border- 17 miles north.
Well, enough fun. The point of this rant is to encourage all music lovers to attend the Oct. 21 Battle of the Bands. Gates open at 11am. This fundraiser for the Bradshaw Mountain Wildlife Assn. promises to be a blast. Three talented local bands will compete for your enjoyment: Road One South led by Freddie Freeman, Brock Lacock's Muddbone, and Famous in Denmark. Forty dollars contributes to the cause, gets you a comfortable seat under the canopy of historic elms and with a short walk you can purchase your favorite beer or wine- all the time enjoying a beautiful AZ fall afternoon with full accompaniment.
Take the 89 north to Chino Valley, then exit right on "E" Perkinsville Rd. and then left on Road One "E". On the right side you will find 2515 N. Road One "E" and the Winey Cat Granite Creek Winery. Let's have fun!
Mike Goes on a Bender
By Mike Todhunter
At 72 and still growing, things aren't what they use to be, but I do like a good bender. Now we aren't talking your standardized frat house or sorority house bender, but one that a maturing geezer can hang with- a blues bender in Las Vegas advertised as the best blues festival in America. Arguably King Biscuit in Arkansas and the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennesse might disagree, but The Big Blues Bender held in the Westgate Hotel featured a premiere line-up from Sept. 7 through 10 at the house that Elvis built.
The four-day extravaganza included many blues heavyweights- Jimmy Vaughn (SRV's brother), Beth Hart, Mr. Sipp, Kingfish Ingram, Phoenix's Dennis Jones, Marquis Knox, Tab Benoit, Albert Castiglia and Mike Zito- The Blood Brothers, Samantha Fish, Keb' Mo’, John Primer, Bob Margolin (Muddy Waters band), Victor Wainwright and so many more luminaries. At a reasonable cost, you too can have the best kind of bender without even a hangover if you choose- a blues bender from 3:15pm Thursday to 3:00am Monday morning. Man! What a life!
This wasn't Ginny and my first blues bender. AJ Productions has put on The Big Blues Bender for several years. We first met AJ at the Waterfront Blues Fest in Portland in an elevator hustling his first bender in the true spirit of Barnum and Bailey- easy to see that success was the only option (In Nov. he embarks on his first Big Easy Blues Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to NOLA to Cozumel- we'll be on it!). Like a visionary entrepreneur, he had hit on a public need and cashed in. The first Bender was held in a nice hotel, The Plaza, but in a seedy neighborhood- just across the street from Fremont Street, the closest location in LV to Zombieville. Once, leaving the Plaza for home in Idaho, Ginny and I received parting farewell courtesy of a drugged-out gal running against traffic coming our way- totally nude. Personally, I prefer a good panhandler fully dressed. I would have paid her to keep her clothes on. After a couple of years, the Bender was moved to the Hard Rock Hotel, until it was torn down. Shortly thereafter, it was moved to the Westgate- originally the International Hotel during Elvis' reign and later the Hilton (I sure do miss the Star Trek Experience). The Westgate was a good choice too because it's not a maze in search of its next victim, but still has four attractive venues- the Theater, the pool, the ballroom and the cabaret. Between Saturday and Sunday footballers, gamblers, and blues groupies, business is good.
What makes the Bender so convenient for us is the four-hour drive from Dewey to the Westgate. Not only is the drive timely, but it affords us the opportunity to connect with our AZ backyard- the topography and its rich SW history. Taking the 89 north through Chino Valley and surviving vertigo and the endless roundabouts, we soon entered the Kaibab National Forest, its beauty reminding me of AZ's version of Big Sky Country and its vast vistas. Go West, young man, on the I-40, that's now properly paved, (thanks to the infrastructure Gods), and exit on the 93 at Kingman. Taking the 93 north through the land that time forgot into Vegas, you will pass the famous Kingman Turquoise Mines that in 1973 supplied over one-half of all the world's jewelry needs and is today one of the few turquoise mines still open in the USA. This mine has been producing since 600 AD. A bit further north you will pass the historic town of Chloride' the oldest inhabited mining town, yielding silver, but today known for its rock-wall murals. The 93 takes you directly onto the I-515, exit Desert Inn Road, turn right on Paradise and you are at the Westgate where the real paradise exists, 4-days of blues heaven. Don't miss the chance to tour or exit at Hoover Dam on your way in. Built in Black Canyon on the Nev.-Az. border, constructed from 1931-36 during the Great Depression and dedicated by FDR , it stands as a symbol of American ingenuity and can-do spirit at a time when America actually built real infrastructure.(I couldn't help myself.)
Upon our arrival at the Westgate , we knew we had landed in music central when we were greeted by the statue of Elvis in the lobby. After an easy check-in two days prior to the start of the festivities, we spent that day chillin' and garnering energy for the blues marathon that was beginning shortly.
Day two found us exploring LV and walking the Strip to some of our nostalgic stops by way of the Tram just outside the Westgate doors and dropping us off at the MGM. From there we hoofed it to the Hard Rock Cafe to slurp Hurricanes made famous at Pat O'Brien's in NOLA. Some bad habits can't be broken. I added to my pin collection, a hobby picked up as a result of having everything a grown man can have and still wants more.
Next day, our rancher-blues buddies from our Pocatello days, Dave and Theresa, joined us for a pilgrimage to Margaritaville to have a Jambalaya lunch, a Bahama Mama and a Last Mango in Paris, all in eulogy to the passing of the good -time man, Jimmy Buffet. God bless his soul. RIP, Jimmy. Later that evening we had supper at the Bootlegger Italian Restaurant, the oldest in LV, frequented in its inception by Bugsy Segal , the Rat Pack any many other infamous Made Men. The food was delicious, the marinara sauce to die for- used metaphorically, of course.earlier that day we all caught the tram and walked to the Venetian Hotel. There Theresa, who is full- blooded Italian, and had never been to Venice got her chance Vegas-style. We did the next best thing-we took her to see the gondolas and the Bridge of Sighs on the Strip. I do think we also saw a mini -version of the Doge Palace as well. Returning to the lobby lounge, we found Leon Blue at the keyboards, all 80-sum years still tickling the ivories like a man half his age- a really nice guy that even talks to sometimes rude people like me. In the lounge, we also met Marquise Knox, a genuine top performer and front man with a superb mix of gospel, blues and authenticity. Our last blues cruise he led the final day swan-song party. Very accomplished.
Day 3 started out with high expectations with an opportunity to hear the Blues Beatles only to find that some things need to be left alone. You can blues-up the Beatles all you want, but the originals can't be touched. Let's call it music heresy, subject to time in prison. Jimmy Vaughn followed and my flashbacks to the days of the Fabulous Thunderbirds were getting the best of me. Jimmy's up there in age and it showed in his vocals, but to hear one of the last living blues icons made for good memories. In his heyday, Jimmy and his brother Stevie Ray left the blues world with some amazing music that will live through the ages. Jimmy, joined by the Texas Horns (Baritone and alto sax, trumpet) and stand-up bass filled the theater.
Following Jimmy's theater act we tried our luck, never knowing what to expect to the cabaret, where Marquise blew the place down with tunes like "Walking the Dog", filled with double entendres, earthly nuance and gospel messaging- balancing it all in revue type fashion. Liza Minnelli couldn't have played the cabaret any better. It was here that we met Prescott folk, Dennis and Marcia, on Hometown "T" day. Ginny saw her mirror image, Marcia, wearing a Windsock T. Who would have thunk it? Surprises continued as we left the cabaret when we saw the Adonis Swamp Thing, Tab Benoit, in the lounge chain- smoking Cubano stogies, liberally sipping some strange Mr. Hyde concoction- ladies draped all over him in a feeding frenzy. With his shoulder-length curly hair, four-day stubble and Hollywood good looks, it's hard to believe that this once clean-cut Cajan altar boy, pre-covid, was a leading environmental advocate for preserving the bayou wetlands. The only endangered species in that lounge during Benoit's presence were the ladies that didn't cop a feel. The guy is magic- a helluva guitarist and drummer as well.
The pool venue opened the next day and like any Pieces worth his zodiac, I was in my element. After a healthy dip we trekked to the Victor Wainwright led piano Bender featuring Dave Keyes (Is this his real name?), Red Young, and Leon Blue. It was mostly talk, but informative. Bored, we hit the High-Noon Pro-Am Jam once more at the cabaret. There the talent reminded me of our Sunday jams at the Windsock- so much talent that couldn't give up their day job. One of the jammers was Blair Robertson who spoke of Dr. Bob and his friendship with Big Daddy D. The man was a gas-funny and loving every moment- playing some Bo Diddley, Lightning Hopkins, Chuck Berry and joined by a cadre of blues people. Joining Blair were people from all over America- Kathy from Hotlanta played the flute and keyboards, the Mountain Man Chris Avery on the lead guitar, Alabama Otis on the Yamaha, Sandy Haley from Detroit on the piano, John Bull from Montgomery and the boys from NC did a great "Chapel Hill Boogie". Shortly thereafter we returned to the pool to hear the Grateful Blues, another spin-off that didn't quite make it, but you will be pleased to note that the boomer Deadheads are still on that one song groove. Pot is legal in Nevada and there is no shortage of herb.
Our blues marathon ended on high-note (not that kind) with the Blood Brothers, Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia, doing their version of dueling guitar riffs and impressive they were, but that's rock, baby, not the blues. Owning and producing for Gulf Coast Records they've promoted the blues and though I'm a big Zito fan, I'd be remiss to suggest otherwise. There's a lot of that going around. Following up the Blood Brothers was Samantha Fish with Jesse Dayton. She's gone to the top of the list in my opinion - so innovative, eclectic and always seeming to improve her voice and guitar. Dressed in black leather tights and stiletto pumps- how can you go wrong: good music and big screen visuals? Southern Hospitality finished that evening with Victor Wainwright on the keyboards, Damon Fowler and JP Soars - all headliners in their own right.
Many top bluesmen filled the 4-day line-up to name a few: Alastair Greene (recently produced a CD with Orphan Jon), Corey Duplechin, Ana Popovic, Selwyn Birchwood, Kenny Neal and more. The only drawback to the Big Blues Bender is that it is impossible to see it all- so pick your euphoria.
All you blues folks out there, consider the Bender for next year early Sept. and book early because tix go fast- room and festival are one price. I met old friends and made new ones there. Ginny and I had a grand time and so would you. Long live the blues! Sunday 2pm jams at the Windsock. Be there or be square.
Big Daddy D
Review: Big Daddy D and the Dynamites featuring Betty Jo Vachon
By Tom Pallen
Big Daddy D and the Dynamites featuring Betty Jo Vachon put on an electrifying show that left the audience in awe. With an ensemble of incredibly talented musicians, this performance was a memorable journey through the blues genre.
Dr. Bob Sellani on drums set the tone right from the beginning with a captivating opening act. His drumming was nothing short of spectacular and it was evident that he brought a wealth of experience to the stage. And the way he ripped open "Hip Shake" was simply mind-blowing, and it instantly drew the crowd into the groove.
Scott Jeffy on bass provided a rock solid and groovy foundation for the band. His basslines were tight, and he effortlessly held the rhythm section together, allowing the other musicians to shine.
Darryl Porras (aka Big Daddy D), with his soulful vocals and mesmerizing guitar skills, showcased the heart and soul of the blues. His performance of "Nasty Habits" was filled with emotion, and his guitar solos were nothing short of breathtaking.
But it was Betty Jo Vachon who stole the show with her incredible voice. Her rendition of "Chain of Blues" was one of many highlights of the evening. Her powerful vocals resonated throughout the venue, leaving the audience in awe of her talent and stage presence. She brought a unique energy to the stage that was truly unforgettable.
The chemistry between the band members was palpable, and their synergy on stage was a testament to their years of experience and dedication to the blues. Each member brought their A-game, and it was evident that they were in their element.
This show was undoubtedly one for the books and a testament to why the Windsock is in the Blues Hall of Fame. Big Daddy D and the Dynamites featuring Betty Jo Vachon delivered a performance that was unparalleled. It was a night filled with soulful blues, incredible musicianship, and a whole lot of heart. If you ever have the chance to see them, don't miss it – it's an experience you won't forget.
Phoenix Rising and the Blues
Phoenix Rising and the Blues by Mike Todhunter
While enjoying the July 23 blues jam at the Windsock and thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie of that afternoon, I reflected on the upcoming Windsock induction into the NAZBA Blues Hall of Fame to take place on Aug. 13 from 2-6pm. That afternoon only reaffirmed why the Windsock truly is worthy of the distinction of being a Hall of Famer. The lounge aside, it is the blues performers themselves that have made the Windsock the place to be.
Led by Scott O'Neill's house band , the Sunday jams never disappoint. The talent ensemble, includes the likes of blues locals- Dennis Herrera, Dr. Bob, Chicago Bob, Taul Paul, Mary McKee, the Kelley’s, Mike Dotson, and so many others of equal talent. Some of these performers should be appropriated HOF status. The blues reputation of the Windsock attracts performers from outside our community and fans as well. On several occasions I have met folks who have come in from Phoenix to take in the blues referred by word of mouth. It's not uncommon to see the dance floor on fire, the audience fully feeling the vibe.
You can only imagine the thrill that Ginny and I got on July 23 when, near the jam's end, a local legend who had been MIA since just before the cover lockdown showed up with his guitar on steroids- metaphorically catching lightning in a bottle. Those that stayed until the jam's conclusion were treated to the re-emergence of Muddbone after its long hiatus.
In Sept. 2019, a few months prior to the lockdown, after closing two escrows and moving from Idaho to Dewey, Ginny and I began our inevitable search for good live music. It didn't take long to find Freddie Freeman (currently with Road One South) and sole performer on his terrific CD, ("Captive of Love") and at PV's now closed "Sidekicks", we discovered Muddbone featuring Brock Lacock. OMG! With Brock's rocking' voice and his flaming guitar work, we thought that we had stumbled on a ZZ Top/ Ted nugget rocking' blues reincarnation.
Scoring three Muddbone CD's- "Twister Blues", "Rev It Up", and simply "Muddbone", I now had at my beckoned call music that would help me get through the dog days of lockdown and inconvenience of social isolation. Songs like "Back to the Blues", "The River", "Good Thing", "Worn Out Shoes", "The Edge", "Honey Bee", and "Snake Eyes" , just to name a few of my favorites- all capturing Brock's powerful rocking' blues thunderbolts.
But then, like so many other musicians, he disappeared from public view to our loss. Everyone reacted differently to the lockdown, its unintended consequences politically, economically and socially were like a personal and national walk through a dark alley blind and not knowing where this pandemic would take us. For some, this time for reflection, for creative and innovative endeavors and for more family time proved to be an unforeseen time of fortune- an ironic blessing. For others, especially musicians familiar with the weekend gig, it was a time of misfortune and lost income. Fans who regularly let off steam and the occasional Weekend Warrior felt the social distancing so unbecoming of the human species. Some boomers dusted off their guitars relegated for decades in their closets and became a part of the blues renaissance that we see today in Prescott.
The trials and tribulations that Brock and fellow musicians went through can only be speculated on, but after Sunday's show, Brock while tightening his belt loops, confided that he had lost weight and missed the shows pre-empted by covid.
Blues giants like Bobby Bland, BB King, Willie Dixon and Buddy Guy have often been questioned about what are the blues? Growing out of the rich farm land of the Mississippi Delta, the cotton fields tended by sharecroppers through a long humid summer, the blues were cast upon the musical world. More than life's labor define the evolution of our souls and transforms us into unique individual beings. Life itself can be the blues. When a man with a family loses his job and can't pay the rent, he has the blues. When the kids can't have new school clothes or decent food, they have the blues. When your man or woman leave you and have done you wrong, you have the blues. The death of a loved one is surely the blues. Psychologists have confirmed that the greatest grief lies in having to bury a child, worse than divorce. This kind of grief causes some to question the Lord's divinity- this too is the blues. Life on the Mississippi Delta during its period of Southern segregation and the Klan's reign of terror was too the blues. Passion often comes through suffering and what emerges is a universality found in the blues that touches the human spirit like only music can. (Not that I would ever wish another pandemic on anyone as a means to acquire passion.)
Sundays, traditionally a day of rest or an opportunity for music catharsis became a competing clash of interests post- Reconstruction. Church goers celebrated life through the gospel, while others sought the sanctity of the juke joint which to those ecclesiastically inclined played the devil's music. Surely it must be because it competed and kept people from Sunday service. The heart of the community felt this schism.
The blues greats always felt that to play the blues, you had to feel the blues. Brock and other blues performers lived through a difficult time and persevered. They felt the blues through the lockdown and like the Egyptian mythological legend of the Phoenix and the Native-American legend of the Thunderbird, they found renewal and newfound purpose. Just as the seasonal floods enriched the Nile Valley and the thunderbolts announced and preclude the life-giving monsoons of the Southwest, the lifting of the lockdown watered our blues scene and restored the land as it once was. The Windsock has indeed benefited from this awakening and established itself with the help of our blues jammers as a primo venue worthy of HOF status.
Celebrate Windsock’s Aug. 13 HOF induction. Acknowledge the Brock Lacock’s of this world and let's all do our part to keep the blues alive and well. There is no better place in this world than our Prescott area home, its blues scene and its friendly folk.
Hey: Mike Dotson
Dotson Having Fun Playing As A Free Agent
By John Johnson
The blues scene in the Prescott area has certainly been bolstered by transplants from Southern California. Guitarist Mike Dotson is yet another one of those.
The stocky 71-year-old with the flowing gray hair who's become a fixture at local jams over the past several months was born and raised in Phoenix, then relocated to SoCal in the mid 1970s. After a career in the electronics industry that took him to points all over the world, he and wife Diane purchased a place in the Quailwood development in Dewey about a year ago.
They're happy to be back in his native state, but at a much higher elevation than his former home city.
"My wife didn't want to live in Phoenix," he said. "She's allergic to 125 degrees.
"I've gotten to experience what shoveling snow is like for the first time in my life and now I know why people have heart attacks doing it. But other than that, this place has more to offer than most people realize."
He began his musical journey at age 12, inspired by artists such as Simon and Garfunkel. He worked in a record store and sold stereo equipment while playing in bands as a teenager, which became the foundation for his career in the electronics field. His final position prior to retirement consisted of running an Asian company that produces drones.
There was a 10-year period when he was obsessed with golf (which began as an effort to help an ailing in-law), but otherwise he continued to play guitar during his time in California. About a decade ago, he attended an after-party at the National Association of Music Merchants show in Anaheim and got a chance to play with Christian rock legend and harmonica virtuoso Darrell Mansfield.
"It hooked me," he said. "It was time for me to go back. Golf went by the wayside and I got serious about (the guitar) again."
He either joined or formed a number of bands over the ensuing years, the most prominent of which was Willie and the Road Tramps featuring the Dirty Horns. The drummer in that outfit remains one of his best friends.
"It became kind of a vanity project for the drummer, but for me, I just wanted to see how dynamic it could be," he said. "I just wanted to have an enormous amount of fun with it. There's nothing quite like a band with a horn section that goes out trying to destroy anything in its path."
They opened for some big-name acts at the esteemed Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, including renowned guitarists Dickie Betts, Coco Montoya and Albert Lee, the Atlanta Rhythm Section and the Motels.
"I just had a gas of a time," he said.
He does a fair amount of singing, but that's not his passion.
"I sing out of necessity," he said. "With that, I've learned that there's certain things you do and certain things you never do in a jam. For instance, you never try to teach a song (to the other musicians) when you're on stage. That's a perfect way to guarantee a train wreck.
"The worst experience I ever had on stage, I tried to teach a one-chord John Lee Hooker song. It was a disaster."
About 5 years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer that was borderline stage 4. He went through 2 1/2 months of radiation and three years of chemotherapy and is now cancer-free. Just prior to that ordeal, he'd concluded a difficult divorce.
He said the cancer treatment was horrible, but there was some good stuff that came out of that period as well. For example, on the day he got his diagnosis, he gave his phone number to a lady who was a regular at one of the jams he played.
"It was the woman I'm married to now," he said. "She basically saved my life. Music brought us together and it keeps us together."
He may eventually become a member of another band – or he might not. For now, he's having a lot of fun with the jams.
"I really don't have any interest in building another band," he said. "The only caveat to that would be if I came across a singer who was a real diamond in the rough. If it happens, it happens, but I'm content to just keep jamming.
"As long as I can get up on stage and play music that people find entertaining, that's fine with me. I've made my money and I don't have to dig into a tip jar in order to have lunch tomorrow."
And check this out:
Review: Road 1 South
Road One South Returns to the Iconic Windsock with a Soul-Stirring Blues Performance
By Tom Pallen
Road One South, the renowned blues band, made a triumphant return to the iconic Windsock, grabbing the audience with their soulful melodies and impeccable musicianship. Led by the charismatic frontman Freddie Freeman, the band delivered a mesmerizing performance that showcased their collective talent and deep-rooted love for the blues genre. With John Wurtz's electrifying guitar, Steve Rivera's grooving bass, Dwight D'Evelyn's pulsating drums, Ofer Harel's captivating percussion, and Jay Schermer's soulful harmonica, Road One South proved once again why they are a force to be reckoned with in the blues scene.
From the moment Road One South took the stage, the energy in the room was palpable. Opening with a foot-stomping blues number, Freeman's powerful vocals immediately commanded attention. His expressive voice, reminiscent of the blues greats of the past, effortlessly conveyed the emotions embedded within each song. Freeman's skills on the keyboard were equally impressive, adding depth and texture to the band's sound.
Wurtz's guitar work was nothing short of extraordinary. His mastery of the instrument was evident as he effortlessly transitioned between searing solos and delicate, nuanced melodies. Wurtz's passion for the blues shone through every note, leaving the audience captivated and craving more.
Rivera's bass provided a solid foundation for the band's sound, creating a rich and resonant groove that kept the audience swaying throughout the night. His impeccable sense of timing and ability to lock in with D'Evelyn's dynamic drumming created a rhythm section that was tight and powerful.
Speaking of D'Evelyn, his drumming skills were a highlight of the performance. From thunderous beats to intricate fills, D'Evelyn showcased his versatility and mastery of his instrument. His infectious energy was contagious, driving the band forward and keeping the audience on their feet.
Harel's percussion added a layer of flavor to Road One South's sound. His expertly placed rhythms enhanced the overall groove and added an element of spontaneity to the performance. Harel's chemistry with the rest of the band was evident, creating a cohesive and tight-knit musical unit.
Last but not least, Schermer's harmonica playing added a soulful and authentic blues touch to the band's sound. His ability to breathe life into each note and evoke a range of emotions was remarkable. Schermer's harmonica solos were a true highlight of the evening, drawing cheers and applause from the audience.
Road One South's return to the Windsock was an unforgettable night of blues music at its finest. Freddie Freeman and his bandmates delivered a stellar performance that showcased their exceptional talent and genuine love for the genre. Their tight-knit musicianship, powerful vocals, electrifying guitar work, grooving rhythm section, captivating percussion, and soulful harmonica made for a truly memorable experience. Road One South's dedication to the blues shines through in every note, making them a must-see for any fan of the genre. With their remarkable performance at the Windsock, Road One South solidified their place as one of the top blues bands around.
Review: Dennis Herrera
Captivating Blues Mastery: Dennis Herrera Blues Band
By Tom Pallen
The Dennis Herrera Blues Band is a soul-stirring ensemble that delivers a mesmerizing blend of blues with their unique musical chops. Led by the charismatic frontman Dennis Herrera, whose versatile skills as a vocalist and guitarist take center stage, the band also features John Warmouth on drums, Carl Dahlgren on keys, and Frank Marbut on bass. Together, they create a captivating blues experience that leaves the audience begging for more.
One of the standout features of the Dennis Herrera Blues Band is their ability to seamlessly fuse traditional blues elements with contemporary influences, resulting in a sound that is both timeless and refreshing. Their performances exude raw passion and authenticity, paying homage to the blues masters of the past while injecting their own modern twists.
Dennis Herrera's talent as a vocalist is off the chart. His voice carries the weight and raw emotion required to convey the depth of blues music. From gritty, soulful ballads, (think Whisky and Women), to high-energy, foot-stomping anthems (Sittin’ Here Waitin’), Herrera's vocal range and expressive delivery grab the listener, drawing them into the heart of each song.
The band's rhythm section, with John Warmouth on drums and Frank (Bama) Marbut on bass, lays down a rock-solid foundation that moves the music forward with infectious energy. Warmouth's drumming skills are dynamic and precise, providing the backbone for the band's grooves, while Bama’s driving bass lines add depth and richness to the overall sound. In the pocket every time.
Carl Dahlgren's contributions on keys add a layer of soulful texture to the band's sound. His skillful playing effortlessly weaves in and out of the music, adding expressive solos and heartful embellishments that enhance the emotional impact of each song.
One of the highlights of the Dennis Herrera Blues Band's live performances is their ability to create an immersive atmosphere. Their stage presence is magnetic, and they have a natural ability to connect with the audience, ensuring that everyone in the room becomes part of the musical experience. It's evident that they love what they do, and their passion for the blues is contagious.
And then the stray cat rolled in, with his exotic harmonica case that signaled his talent, his haunting fills, and his raw expression of the Blues. Garry Segal, epic harp player.
In conclusion, the Dennis Herrera Blues Band is an immensely talented group of musicians who have mastered the art of blues performance. With Dennis Herrera's soulful vocals, the tight-knit rhythm section of John Warmouth and Frank Marbut, and the textured contributions of Carl Dahlgren on keys, they create an unforgettable blues experience that leaves audiences craving for more. Their ability to balance tradition with innovation sets them apart, and their live shows are nothing short of captivating. If you have the chance to witness the Dennis Herrera Blues Band in action, be prepared to be taken on an exhilarating musical journey that will leave you wanting to dive deeper and deeper into our world: BLUES
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