Friday, August 24, 2007

Blog this!

By David Brewer

Well I'm back from Japan and it was great!! I had the best time, and now I'm on my way to Germany, Poland, etc..

I was just reading John Lee's latest blog. I was touring with Albert Collins at the time of the show he mentions. We were on our way to play the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, B.C., and we were added on to the bill. It was so cool to meet Howlin Wolf...Coco Montoya was Albert's drummer at the time, and my ex-brother-in-law "Boom" (now with Pearl Jam) was on B-3 (plus me on guitar, of course). I'd love to get my hands on a copy of that poster, John.

Anyway, I'm on my way again soon and I should be back home sometime in October. Then I'm off to Nashville to back up my daughter Rachel. I may stop over in North Carolina and see Roberta Penn.

By the way, my friend Darin Wade's father was murdered up on Crown Hill, on 90th and 14th. I just heard about it on the news the day I got back. They're trying to find out who did it, so if anybody knows anything, call Crime Stoppers.

And oblige..Brewer...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In the Pocket with Mr. Solid

By John Lee

Going way back with Gary Sloan

I’ve known Gary Sloan since I was in high school in Anchorage, Alaska. In 1965 he fronted a rock and roll band called The Outlaws and I was either in The Breakers, a surf and rock and roll band, or groups The Better Sex or The Who Nose. I hadn’t become a bass player yet. I played rhythm guitar, tambourine, maracas and sang back-up vocals.

Late in 1965, Gary and I, along with Pete Nolfi on electric bass, Dean Forbes on lead guitar, and Mike Caporale on drums, started what would become Alaska’s first blues band, Proof. After high school graduation in 1967, I left Alaska and went to California where I pretended to go to college. It turned into a year of street education in San Francisco’s Bay area seeing The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton’s great band with Luther Tucker on guitar, The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield and many of other groups like Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Big Brother and the Holding Co. with Janis Joplin. Hey, I would hang around The Fillmore smoking cigarettes with Luther Tucker and Butterfield’s guitar player, Elvin Bishop and talking the blues. I once got drunk with Janis Joplin on Southern Comfort. I also met George Harrison one afternoon on Haight Street. This was the summer of 1967 to late spring 1968. The scene was being overrun with crystal-meth and the battles between the cops and the Black Panthers made the Bay area something of a war zone, so I went back to Anchorage.

I hooked back up with Gary Sloan on harp and vocals, Roger Crosta on drums, and a guitar phenom named Rufus Reid. We called ourselves Proof again. I was playing bass full time now. We got a house gig at a place called The Electric Eye. The Eye was a hang out for hippies and bikers. The bikers were real scooter trash, not the weekend Harley crowd that seems so common today. They called themselves the Brother’s Motorcycle Club. I was given an honorary membership. The Brother’s later became the Hell’s Angels. This was a wild scene and a summary of what I lived thru at that time could fill a book, but that’s for another time.

We had become a bonafide blues band. This gig lasted about a year, then Gary and I parted ways when I went to upstate New York with Lindy and Larry Raines in the fall of 1969. I went back to Alaska in 1970 and did a stint playing folk-rock with Gary, Lindy Raines, Steve Tyler and Gordy Canyon. In 1973 Gary brought John Lee Hooker and Charlie Musselwhite to Alaska and we toured and I got to play bass on both tours. He brought Hooker back in 1975, we toured Alaska again. Later that summer I split for Seattle. I came back to Alaska in the summer of 1981 and played Anchorage, Fairbanks, and a few other spots I don’t recall. We also recorded the Southside Blues album. Those were the last gigs we played together until July 2007.

Gary is living in Arkansas now. Every summer he gigs all around Alaska with assorted friends including Lindy and Larry Raines. He took a week break from the northern exposure and came to play a few gigs in the Seattle area about mid-July 2007. My buddy in the 3J’s, John Stephan, hooked Sloan up with gigs at The Central Club in Kirkland, Washington and at Seattle’s Salmon Bay Eagles. Sloan was more than adequately supported by John Stephan on guitar (John Stephan played with a band called The Blue Chip Stock on the Anchorage scene when Gary and I had the first version of Proof) and his band’s rhythm section of Trev Cutler’s solid drumming and Tom Roesch’s funky and “in the pocket” bass work. Tom is one of my favorite bass players on any scene!

Then for two nights, the Crossroads Band rhythm section of John Rockwell on drums and yours truly joined Gary Sloan (left) and John Stephan for a Friday night show at Pioneer Square’s New Orleans and the next night for a private party in Seattle. Gary is a fine showman, good vocalist, and blues harp man. He also writes some cool songs. A number of his tunes are damn funny, like "Main Squeeze," "Screamin’Skull" (one of Gary’s nicknames when we were coming up) and the tongue in cheek, "Shirt," with the back-up shout “His ex hates that shirt”. Gary has a double CD, "Blues/The Twilight Sloan" out now and has also re-released the "Southside Blues" album to CD. Yours truly plays on 11 tracks on this recording from 1981. I had a great time playing with Gary again, and he has the private party booked again next year. We will be adding some club dates for mid-July 2008. Stay tuned! It will be a natural ball. The summer of 2008 isn’t that far away!

The Seattle Blues Review-August 31, 1975

I had come to Seattle to scout a place to live and check out the local scene. The end of August 1975 I witnessed a great blues show at Sick’s Stadium in Seattle’s Rainer Valley neighborhood. The line-up was a blues fan’s dream: Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Aces, Straights and Shuffles with Kim Wilson (before The Fabulous Thunderbirds), Margie Evans, sometimes singer with The Johnny Otis Show, and the great Albert Collins as an added attraction.

I had toured Alaska that summer with John Lee Hooker, but I had never seen Howlin’Wolf, Albert Collins, or Margie Evans. Kim Wilson was just starting out, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds were a few years away.

Howlin’ Wolf was not well and as I found out much later, he was on kidney dialysis. The Wolf was still a very large presence and despite his failing health we all knew we were in the company of greatness! John Lee Hooker was his usual tough self. Albert Collins was unbelievable, strutting the stage like a man possessed. He was one of the most badass guitar men of all time. Kim Wilson showed why he would become a rising star in the blues revival. Margie Evans had a real sweet set of pipes and cooked up a nice set of jump and slow blues tunes.

At some point I somehow worked my way back stage and John Lee Hooker saw and greeted me. He knew I had never met the Wolf and he took me to where the man born Chester Burnett was sitting. When the introduction was done, Howlin’ Wolf said, “Any friend of the Hook, is a friend of mine.” What a moment! Where was a camera when I needed one!

The Wolf would only play one more big show in Chicago, November 1975. Howlin’ Wolf would pass on January 8th, 1976. Albert Collins passed away in 1993, and John Lee Hooker boogied on until 2001. Margie Evans is still living, but I have no idea if she’s still performing. Kim Wilson is still fronting The T-Birds and doing solo projects. He is still spreading the blues gospel around the world.

I feel blessed to have been at Sicks Stadium on that overcast August Seattle day in 1975. The Wolf, the Hook and Albert Collins were all legendary blues artists, and to see them together was a total thrill. These great musicians will never be forgotten. Play on brothers!

Peg Jackson-August 8, 1946 to July 23, 2007

My dear friend, Peg Jackson, passed away July 23, 2007. Peg and I became friends when I worked at The Café on the Terrace in Mountlake, Washington. Peg was a regular at the café. She and I would talk about everything under the sun. Music, films, books, and politics were among some of the many things we would discuss. Peg was very sharp and had a splendid personality. She was a tireless worker for Tour De Terrace, Mountlake Terrace’s Seafair related festival that takes place at the end of July every year. She made it possible for me to perform music at the festival one year, and I have played there a number of years since. She was a marvelous person and I will miss her. R.I.P Peg.

Quote of the Month:

Dewey Phillips was a wild, hip talkin’ white disc jockey in Memphis, Tennesse, who, in 1949 on his “Red, Hot, and Blue” radio show played black Rhythm and Blues to a white audience for the first time. He also was the first DJ to play Elvis Presley’s debut 45 recording of "That’s All Right Mama/Blue Moon of Kentucky" in 1954.

Mr. Phillips always had a cool saying or phrase for the radio listener. One of my favorites was: “Hey Mabel, get up off the turntable, your too old to be going around with musicians.”

Electric bassist John "Mr. Solid" Lee was born in Alaska and has been active in the Seattle blues scene for about 30 years. He currently plays with the Crossroads Band. Photo by Mike Coyote.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Two Scoops!

Eric "Two Scoops" Moore celebrated his birthday last Friday night at the Corner Inn in West Seattle, where he was playing with Jeff & the Jet City Flyers over the weekend. A lot of well-wishers were on hand for the party, including Scoops' wife Amy and guitarist John Stephan.

Check out the birthday cake below, purchased at a local "erotic" bakery. I believe that Eric is all of 49 years-old now - in other words, just a pup. Here's to many more, Two Scoops!

Two Scoops and cake

Jeff & the Jet City Flyers. Left to right: Eric "Two Scoops" Moore, Jeff Herzog, Bill Lovey. Patty Mey, and Kirk Tuttle.

Patty Mey and Kirk Tuttle
The Siegel-Schwall Band at the Triple Door - August 15, 2007

By Phil Chesnut

Another amazing blues performance was held last night at Seattle's premier music venue, the Triple Door. Featured at this Wednesday night, packed house was the legendary, Siegel-Schwall Blues Band, in their only West Coast performance. One of the forces behind the resurgence of the blues in the '60s and an integral part of Chicago's golden era of the blues. From their beginnings at Chicago's Peppers Lounge, hosting such greats as Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf, to gaining equal fame at the Filmore West, Siegel-Schwall has long set their place in blues history.

With harp virtuoso, Corky Siegel and guitarist, Jim Schwall as the base, along with longtime bassist, Rollo Radford and everyone's legendary blues drummer, Sam Lay, the band put on a high energy show, for their multitude of Seattle blues fans. The evening's bonus was offered by special guest Artis the Spoonman and his highly energetic "flatwear percussion." This historic blues ensemble certainly made their appreciative crowd remember not only what was but embrace the blues that is still being created. Among the many festivals and performances experienced this summer, for me, this was one of the highlights.

Corky Siegel

Corky Siegel and Artis the Spoonman

Jim Schwall

Sam Lay

The Siegel-Schwall Band

Note: All photos in this article were created by Phil Chesnut.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Kurt Crandall & True Story

Salmon Bay Eagles Club - August 17, 2007

I checked out Kurt Crandall's new band at the Salmon Bay Eagles Club last night. A recent transplant from Chicago, Kurt and his fiance, Stephanie, moved to Seattle earlier this year. I believe that this was actually the band's second gig - they played at the Upstage Restaurant in Pt. Townsend a couple of weeks ago. The band is still looking for a full-time bass player, so Tom Roesch (from the John Stephan Band) has been filling in on bass.

The band was swinging, and Kurt generously shared the stage with several Seattle blues stalwarts, including guitarist Steve Yonck, and harp players Kim Field, Paul Green, and Kevin Walsh. Oh yeah, I sang a couple of tunes too - thanks Kurt!

Check these guys out when you get a minute - they play the blues, the whole blues, and nothin' but the blues!

Kurt Crandall & True Story - Left to right: Kurt Crandall, David Hudson, Tom Roesch, and Tim Sherman.

Curt Crandall and Kim Field

Kurt Crandall, David Hudson, Paul Green, Tom Roesch, and Steve Yonck

Kurt Crandall and Mike Lynch

Kim Field, Steve Yonck, Dana Pellegrini, Emily, and Kevin Walsh

Stephanie , Mike Lynch, Jeff Herzog, Kurt Crandall, and Tim Sherman

Gaby and Mark Bristol. Mark is the publisher of Blue Suede News.

Daddy Treetops and Hayley

Monday, August 06, 2007

Snoqualmie Blues Festival - August 4th, 2007

I heard some great music at the Snoqualmie Blues Festival last Saturday. This festival is organized by our friend Phil Chesnut, and it's always a laid back event and a good spot to see some of the local blues heroes during the daylight hours. It wasn't even too hot for a change.

Now, if they would just find a way to move the event to a grassy spot instead of the usual dusty gravel parking lot, it would be perfect! Can you get on that for us, Phil??

Here's some photos for ya'll:

Kim Field & the Mighty Titans of Tone

Kim Field - photo by the Blues Boss.

Steve Yonck - photo by the Blues Boss.

Eric Daw - photo by the Blues Boss.

Billy Spaulding and Brady Millard-Kish - photo by the Blues Boss.

The Mark Dufresne Band

Mark Dufresne - photo by Zab.

The Broomdust Blues Band

Left to right: Garret Smith, John Widell, Bubba McCoy, David Hudson, and Greg Roberts - photo by Zab.

Johnny Broomdust - photo by Zab.

Blues fans Daddy Treetops and Mike Lynch - photo by Zab.

A guitar with some mojo - photo by Zab.

The Crossroads Band

Dennis Ellis - photo by Zab.

Steve Bailey - photo by Zab.

Left to right: Dan Newton, John Lee, and Dennis Ellis - Photo by Zab.

John Rockwell - photo by Zab

The Robbie Laws Bigger Blues Band

Left to right: Charlene Grant, Robbie Laws, unknown keyboardist - photo by Zab.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Down to the nightclub...

I've dropped in on the John Stephan Band a couple of times lately - most recently at the Mainstage Comedy and Music Club in the Queen Anne neighborhood and at the Salmon Bay Eagles Club in Ballard.

John's band hosts a Blue Monday jam at the Mainstage. I have been to a couple of these gigs, and there was a pretty good turnout there last Monday. The club has a nice PA system which they are finally getting tuned up so that the house sound is now pretty good. Now, could someone please turn the floor monitors on?

Jammers at the Mainstage. Left to right: Dan Bonow, Trev Cutler, John Stephan, Dean, and Mikal Rollins

The Mainstage Blue Monday house band: Trev Cutler, John Stephan, and Tom Roesch.

I always have fun playing with John's fine band, but what I especially like about this Monday gig is that I get to play through John's 1955 Fender Bassman. This is a friggin' awesome amp to blow harp through, probably the best Bassman I have ever had the pleasure of using. Give it a test drive if you show up to jam some Monday.

The world's greatest harp amp??

I also saw the band backing up singer/guitarist/harp player Gary Slaon at the Salmon Bay Eagles a couple of weeks ago. Gary currently lives in Arkansas, and is an old friend of Stephan and Seattle bassist John Lee from when they were all playing music in Anchorage, AK in the late '60s. Gary is a very entertaining frontman and played some of his original tunes for us during the gig. The band also backed him up at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant and at a private party that weekend.
Gary Slaon with the John Stephan Band at the Salmon Bay Eagles Club.