Hello folks: I am curious if anyone will find or read this - so let me know if this might be of some amusement or interest to anyone!
Recently I heard three local Bay Area bands at the new and super modern Freight & Salvage here in Berkeley:
First was the huge Western styled swing band: Lost Week End - with 3 horns, lead guitar, steel guitar, 2 fiddles, singer and rhythm guitarist Don Burnham, piano, bass, and drums! They were very tight and played good dance music and at times as many as a dozen couples were having fun on the dance floor which is a real asset for the New Freight! It was a fine program and the music was very good - my only complaint is that due to the size of the band very few of the excellent musicians really get a chance to solo at length and really get hot - especially I would have loved to hear much more from the 2 fiddlers!
On another night at the Freight & Salvage I heard two very different bands on the same bill - Devine's Jug Band opened and did a nice job with some old time jug and novelty tunes from the late 20s with the jug player, Pete Devine, and the wonderful hot and amazing fiddler, Mayumi Urgino, being the outstanding players to my ears. They are especially strong on the fast and hot instrumentals. In the case of this band I felt their CD on the Porto Franco label is actually better than their live performance. The second band was the California Honeydrops who put on a killer live performance featuring leader, vocalist, guitarist, & trumpeter , Lech Wierzynski - who offers an unusually broad spectrum of superb rhythmic music from contemporary New Orleans sounds to Blues, to almost country type songs done with just Lech on guitar acc. by his tub bass player and the drummer playing washboard - to what delighted my ears perhaps the most, a wonderful version of the "Weary Blues" (also known as "Shake It and Break It") done in really rough, old New Orleans style with of course Lech on tumpet dishing it out a la Kid Shots Madison and his soprano sax player sounding like Sidney Bechet - with the entire rhythm section of piano, tub bass, and drums falling being in total synch in real old time black NO style! They also did a fine version of "Junko Partner" - anyway pure delight from start to finish. The band under Lech is unbelievably tight musically but their personal interplay is delightfully casual and informal - just the perfect mixture in these days of super egos on stage or boring singer song writers! However their CD I felt was disappointing - it lacked the drive and power of their live show - I hope they can appear again at the Freight and make a live recording - Arhoolie would love to issue it!
I made the mistake to catch James Cotton and Hubert Sumlin at the Hebst Theatre in SF - part of the SF Jazz Fest. This nice concert hall is simply not the place for an electric bass player to drown out the entire proceedings with his constant overly loud drone and rumble - it was atrocious!
If you are interested in what is happening in Mexico I would strongly urge you to check out on YouTube: Los Tigres del Norte and their latest hit "La Granja" - it is a most remarkable protest song but written by Mexico's # 1 composer who is illiterate but has the uncanny ability to come up with a corrido in this case - which can be interpreted many ways - but basically as far as I can detemine, accuses the Narco trafficers, the Mexican government, and the US and it's Berlin style Wall, for ruining not only Mexico's farmers but the entire country. You will also see on that YouTube site a remarkably informed Mexican comentator wearing a black mask who gives his interpretations of that corrido as well as of many other corridos by Los Tigres Del Norte - and the blogs are amazing! Viva Los Tigres - the voice of the underclass!
That's it for right now - let's talk up some of the best we have heard or seen!
While I have your attention: The Down Home Music Store, like all record shops is going through tough times and they are in the process of letting folks know what's available from them - so check out the Down Home Music Store on EBay - they are auctioning LPs etc - including many of the Mexican LPs I am selling. I will also auction off many of my 45s of Blues and Cajun Music via the DH E-Bay site! Check it out - I will not have the time to do this on my own and hope it will help Down Home survive.
The Savoy Family Cajun Band - Marc, Ann, Wilson, & Joel - are coming to the Bay Area! One night only in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall - Friday November 27th - right after Turkey Day - get on your dancing shoes - direct from Louisiana - a rare treat with this authentic family band - with meistro Marc on accordion, wife Ann on vocals and powerhouse rhtyhm guitar, Joel on fiddle and Wilson on hot piano, accordion, fiddle and real Cajun yells!! You never know what interesting combinations will appear - all four also play fiddle - maybe a 4 fiddle tune? Or accordion duets? Jerry Lee Lewis style piano romps - Wilson is guaranteed to rock the joint!
Cheers from Chris Strachwitz