Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ships Passing in the Night...

I, and some of my Seattle musician pals, had a brief  but interesting interaction with the excellent keyboard player Alberto Gianquinto in the very early '80s.

I am going to guess that this happened (someone correct me if I'm wrong here) in the winter of 1980.  My excellent girlfriend at the time, Monica, had gone on vacation to Mexico with her friend Patsy. When they returned Monica told me that they had met this great blues piano player by the name of Alberto Gianquinto who was playing for tips on the beach where they were hanging out.  And, Patsy was going to fly Alberto up to Seattle to hang out - would I like to meet him?

The name Alberto Gianquinto rang a bell with me right away, because I knew that someone by that name had played on the first two James Cotton Blues Band albums.  I didn't know it at the time, but Alberto had also recorded with Elvin Bishop, Son Seals, and Santana.  So yeah, I would like to meet him!  But why in earth did they discover him playing on the beach for tips?

I was playing in a band with Seattle bassist John Lee at the time.  The meeting happened at a long-gone joint on the main drag in Anacortes, Washington.  This place had a ridiculous stage located about ten feet in the air where every piece of equipment had to be lugged up a staircase, one at a time.  I recall that it was snowing that day and the windshield wipers on John's truck were only working intermittently.  Occasionally, one of us had to roll down the passenger window to have a look forward and help John stay on the road. 

We made it to the gig somehow, set up, and played the first set.  And sure enough, Monica and Patsy showed up with Alberto in tow.  The club had an upright piano located on the floor below the stage, so we put a mic on it and our new piano player wailed away with us.  It was like suddenly having Lafayette Leake join the band!

Alberto was a great keyboardist and even greater storyteller (he told Monica an Patsy that he had to leave Mexico because of some problems associated with federal piracy charges), but he was on a total losing streak at the time.  He didn't have transportation, a job, money, or a keyboard that he could use to gig with.  He did the sofa circuit thing for a while (Patsy, Seattle guitarist Jack Cook, and John Lee put him up) in Seattle but finally wore out his welcome and headed back to a warmer place, his hometown, the San Francisco Bay area. 

We heard that he died there on the street, homeless, in 1986.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hugh's Blues at the Salmon Bay Eagles

I dropped by the Salmon Bay Eagles club last night to see a rare performance of the Seattle band Hugh's Blues.  Various versions of this band, always fronted by harp blower and singer Greg "GW" Levell, were a fixture on the Seattle music scene from about the mid-'80s  to (I'm guessing) the late '90s. 

GW quit playing altogether after that and the band members went their separate ways, so it has been a long time since I have seen him.  I have been hearing reports recently that his reanimated band was playing occasionally, and there they were last night at the Eagles, in the flesh!  GW told me that he has retired from the concrete business after 35 years, and is now going to school. He has been married for 13 years and is living with his wife in North Bend.

I got the impression that he is not really interested in "starting the band again," but he will probably do these one-off gigs every now and then for the fun of it.  I saw the band's first set, which consisted mainly of the soul-blues material that GW is known to favor. 

Here are some photos from the gig:

Left to right: Jack Cook, Bert DeCoy (GW's son-in-law), and Greg "GW" Levell.

Left to right: Al Farlow, Steve Branca, and Billy Reed.
Now here's something you don't see very often.  A harp player blowing through a piggyback 1963 Fender Tremolux!  Ain't she a beauty?  I'll bet this is a killer guitar amp.

You can check out the Boneyard Preachers here.  See you at the nightclub!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Second Annual Harp Hysteria Show at the Salmon Bay Eagles

We had a great time playing at the second annual Harp Hysteria show at the Salmon Bay Eagles club last Saturday.

The Preachers did a great job of backing up me, Portland's Arthur "Fresh Air" Moore, and our pal Joe T. Cook.  Joe and his family moved to the Seattle area recently from Minneapolis where he was a fixture on the blues scene for 25 years.

Our thanks to Zab and Eagles for hosting this gig, and all the fans for turning out!  The Eagles has been hosting blues music in Ballard for over 20 years now.  They provide a stage, lights, and a PA system - what a concept! 

Here are some photos from the gig for you:

Let the games begin!

The Portland crew. That's Arthur Moore on the right.

Arthur and Steve Yonck.  Some of Arthur's friends from Portland sat in during his set.

Blues fans Isis and Lauri.  Hi guys!

The Boneyard Preachers with some harp player.  That's my lucky "Nekkid Girl" shirt. Photo created by staff photographer Lauri Miller.

Joe T. Cook and Steve.  Joe is a great singer, harp player, and songwriter!

Joe rockin' the chromatic harp.

That's all, folks!  Joe T. Cook and the Boneyard Preachers.  Photo created by Zab.

You can check out the Boneyard Preachers here.  See you at the nightclub!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Preachers play the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival

The Preachers played our last outdoor gig this year at the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival last Saturday.  We played the last set of the day, and were on our way home by 6:30 PM.  Unlike our last community festival gig, the sun was out and it was reasonably warm.

See? Sunlight!

The PA was sounding good this day and I noticed that the monitors were being mixed by a guy on an iPad - wireless!  First time I've seen that! let's see, where was I?

I noticed an older fellow standing in front of the PA main speakers that was apparently hard of hearing as he kept cupping his ears with his hands towards the speakers.  He seemed to really be enjoying the band.  Later, he gave a tip for the band to someone in the nearby Washington Blues Society booth.  How much of a tip? One dollar!

Tomorrow night is the Preachers second annual harp show at the Salmon Bay Eagles in Ballard, featuring Arthur "Fresh Air" Moore, Joe T. Cook, and yours truly.  We hope to see you there!

The photos in this blog were created by staff photographer Lauri Miller.

You can check out the Boneyard Preachers here.  See you at the nightclub!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Early Warning!! Really Big Harp Show at the Salmon Bay Eagles!

The second annual Harp Hysteria show will occur this coming Saturday, October 12th at Seattle's blues clubhouse, the Salmon Bay Eagles.

The Boneyard Preachers will be backing up yours truly, plus harp blowers Arthur "Fresh Air" Moore (from Portland, Oregon), and our pal Joe T. Cook, a recent transplant to Seattle from the Minneapolis blues scene.

Showtime will be 8:30 PM, and there will be a $5.00 cover for non-Eagles members.  Sorry, there will be no, guest list for this event.

So come on down and be somebody!

You can check out the Boneyard Preachers here.  See you at the nightclub!