This year we thought that we would do
something a little different from previous years in that we would visit
different areas of the USA but continuing the music theme.
Long flight from Heathrow. Flew over
Greenland & Hudson Bay with great views of snow, ice and icebergs together with
a good view of the Rocky Mountains.
Our first port of call on this trip
was San Francisco obviously the main blues related link to this city is San
Francisco Bay Blues by Jessie Fuller.
Stayed at the Radisson on Fisherman's
Wharf and spent time travelling around the city on the Trolley system and
travelled to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked across. Walked down Lombard
Street, known as “The crookedest street in the world”. Took a boat trip around
the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.
We located two blues clubs in the
City, Biscuits and Blues and one on Fisherman's Wharf. The bands that were on
were of no interest to us.
We did notice that the play in the
Post Street Theatre was “Blues in the Night” which we saw in Leeds a number of
Flew to Las Vegas the land of the
casinos for a few days. Walked the strip a couple of times and visited a few
casinos. New York, New York with a roller coaster on the roof, Caesars Palace,
Treasure Island, great water fountain display outside the Bellagio Hotel/Casino.
Picked up our rental car, Dodge
Caravan, large people carrier. Visited an outlet mall on the outskirts of Las
Vegas near the airport.
Left Las Vegas and headed east into
Arizona via Hoover Dam. Stopped at an information centre in Chloride, Arizona,
this is a former silver mining community, and picked up information on Route 66.
Continued on Route 93 and reached Kingman where we stopped and had lunch at “Mr
D’s” diner. The old Route 66 takes an eighty mile loop, which we took towards
Seligman. Now travelling through the Hualapi Indian Reservation in semi desert
country spectacular scenery. We stopped overnight at Seligman and dined at the
Road Kill Diner whose motto is “You Kill It, We Grill It”. Lots of Route 66
themed gift shops in town. There were at least two live music venues on the
weekend, including one at the Road Kill Diner, with the bands playing country
tinged music with driving guitars. Not bad for a town with 456 residents.
Rejoined Interstate 40 east and
headed north on Highway 64 towards the Grand Canyon. Went to a number of the
viewing points on the Canyon including; Wavapai Observation Station. Photo and
video stop. Continued on Highway 64 eastern exit from the park and continued to
skirt the canyon heading for Cameron. Drove through Kaibab National Forrest and
entered the Navajo Indian Reservation and continued through the painted desert
and Moenkopi Plateau with wonderful rock formations. Stayed the night in Tuba
Drove off towards Monument Valley on
Highway 160 East with the first stop being the Navajo National Monument with 13th
Century Anasazi cave dwellings. Also dinosaur footprints in the same area.
Back on the 160 East to Kayenta and
then Highway 163 North to Monument Valley. Monument Valley is on the border of
Arizona and Utah but still in the Navajo Indian Reservation. Spectacular rock
formations took lots of photographs and video.
Drove into Utah and yet more rock
formations including the Mexican Hat. Headed back south into Arizona on Highway
191 south, arriving at Chinle.
Visited Canyon-de-Chelly where we saw
more ruins of ancient cave dwellings.
Continued on towards Window Rock, the
capital of the Navajo Nation where we spent the night. We are now at an altitude
of 7500 feet.
Window Rock now has a monument to the
Navajo Code Breakers of WWII.
Continued south to the Painted Desert
and Petrified Forrest, stunning scenery and rock formations. This is an area
where a large number of dinosaur fossils have been found.
We crossed the route of the old Route
66 and the Santa Fe Railroad when we saw a train with three engines and 132
Newspaper Rock in the painted desert
displays the art work of ancient inhabitants of the area with over 650
petroglyphs on the rock.
Stayed overnight in Holbrook, route
66 country again. The main street, Navajo Boulevard, is a bit like an old
wild-west town. Dined at Joe & Aggies Diner, great Mexican style food. Lots of
shops selling pieces of petrified wood and models of dinosaurs everywhere.
Got back on Interstate 40 and headed
west towards Meteor Crater, passing Winslow. Leaving Meteor Crater were headed
east again towards New Mexico.
Overnight in Gallup, another Route 66
town. Stayed at the El Rancho Hotel, which is an old wild-west hotel, all wood
Continued towards Albuquerque along
I40, however, section of old Route 66 still exists either side of I40 so a lot
of weaving on and off I40 to travel on old Route 66.
Arrived at Albuquerque for a few days
rest and relaxation. Visited the old town and with Route 66 traversing
Albuquerque we spent a lot of time driving along Route 66 to cross the city.
Flew to Memphis and picked up our
second rental car, a Chrysler Town & Country people carrier and headed into
Arkansas. Stayed at Forrest City for the duration of the Arkansas Blues and
Heritage Festival, formerly the “King Biscuit” Blues Festival.
Arkansas Blues and Heritage
Festival, Helena, Arkansas, October 4th to 6th 2007
Charlotte Taylor & Gypsy Rain
This band from Little Rock, Arkansas,
consisted on Charlotte on vocals supported by guitar, bass and drums. They
played a set of mainly original material including “99 Miles to Memphis” and
finished their set with “Let the Good Times Roll”
This 50-something singer and pianist
from Nashville, performed a set of original material ably supported by guitar
and drums. Titles included “Just Tell Me You Can Cook” and “Change My Heart”.
Eric Hughes Band
This band from Memphis consisted on
Eric on vocals/harp, supported by guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. A good set
of standards mixed with a few originals with some tasty harp playing. Songs
included “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, “The Handyman”, “Five Long Years” and
“The Come Home Blues”.
Big Red and the Soulbenders
This female singer fronted band from
Mountain Home, Arkansas including guitar, harp, bass and drums played a set of
mainly original songs including “That Ass”, “Hoodoo Woman” and “Under The Delta
Moon” with the only cover being the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Evil”.
Sean Carney Band
This IBC winning trio consisting of
guitar, bass and drums played a set of original material including “Bad Side
From Arkansas, Sterling, guitar and
vocals, supported by harp, bass, drums and keyboards performed a really good set
of originals and covers including; “Rock Me Baby”, “Red House”, “Red Beans are
Cooking”’ “My Home is in Mississippi”, “Southbound Baby” and “Sweet Little
Angel”. The band had never played together before as the band had been specially
formed for the festival.
Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy
Diuana, who has a wonderful powerful
voice, was making a welcome return to the festival, supported by her great band
including Bob Margolin on bass, delivered a superb set of blues including; “If I
Had Possession Over Judgement Day/Rolling and Tumbling”, “My Baby Got a Black
Cat Bone”, “Lonely Man Blues” and an atmospheric rendition of the Sam Cooke
classic “A Change is Gonna Come” with Bob Margolin on Fender Telecaster.
Harmonica player Bob Corritore joined the band for a couple of numbers.
The standing ovation at the end of
the set was well deserved.
Wayne Baker Brooks
The son of Lonnie Brooks, Wayne Baker
Brooks delivered an enjoyable set of Chicago style blues including a number of
standards such as; “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and “Born Under a Bad Sign”.
Blinddog Smokin’ with Special Guest
This band performed a great set which
included a number of original songs including; “Sitting on the Levee” written
about the King Biscuit Festival, “Bobby Rush’s Bus” and “Angels at the
Bobby Rush took the stage and played
an intimate set of acoustic blues on guitar including; Jimmy Reeds “You Don’t
Have To Go”, “Chicken Heads”, “How Long Blues” and “Good Morning Little
Schoolgirl”. We were also treated to some great harp from Bobby including “Have
You Ever Been Mistreated”. Bobby is always a popular performer in these parts
and he doesn’t disappoint.
The Lee Boys
This was a set of peddle steel guitar
led Sacred Steel music. However, I normally like Sacred Steel but this was more
of a dance/rave version with extended numbers and dance rhythms. We left after
about 40 minutes of the set.
RJ Mischo & His Red Hot Blues Band
We didn’t get to see RJ Mischo as we
were with Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges at the Houston Stackhouse Stage.
Lil’ Dave Thompson
We didn’t get to see Lil’ Dave
Thompson as we were with Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges at the Houston Stackhouse
Stage. We had seen Lil’ Dave some years ago at Holly Ridge, Mississippi.
Sam Carr & the Delta Jukes with Dave
Sam Carr sat at the back of the stage
during this set led by Dave Riley on vocals and guitar supported by Fred James
on guitar plus bass and drums. A great selection of Delta and Chicago style
blues were performed including; “Put Another Log on the Fire”, “Hoodoo Voodoo
Man”, “Going Down to the Delta”, “Dog Gone Blues” and “Sweet Home Chicago”.
Smokin’ Joe Kubek Band and Bnois King
Supported by bass and drums this duo
of guitarist played some hard rocking blues with a contrast of styles between
them. Songs included; “My Hearts in Texas”, “There’s Gonna Be Some Changes
Made”, “Sonny Boy” and “Still a Fool”. During the encore Bnois King played the
guitar with his teeth.
Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin
The set opened with Bob Margolin on
guitar, Willie Big Eyes Smith on drums, Fuzz Jones on bass and Richard
Rosenblatt on harp. They treated us to a set of classic Chicago blues including;
“Big Boss Man”, “You Know It Aint Right”, and “Going to Chicago. Fuzz Jones was
replaced by Bob Stroger on bass with Diunna Greenleaf assisting on vocals on
“You Gotta Move”. The band also played “Kansas City” and “Manish Boy” before the
star of the show, Pinetop Perkins took the stage. Pinetop in fine form for his
age, 94, included “Kansas City”, “They Call Me Pinetop Perkins”, “Teeny Weeny
Bit of Your Love” and “I’ve Got My Mojo Working”.
Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
A slide fest of Chicago blues for Lil’
Ed including numbers such as “Chicken, Biscuits and Gravy”, “ I Gotta Find My
Baby”, “I’ve Gotta Check My Baby’s Oil”, “Leave Poor Me Alone”, Things That I
Used To Do” and “Icicles In My Meal”. We were treated to Lil’Ed being mobile
during “Midnight” will Lil’ Ed doing a walkabout through the audience. A very
enjoyable set, it reminded me of J B Hutto.
Anyone who has seen Sherman recently
will know what to expect from him and he certainly delivered. His playing was a
lot sharper than when we last saw him, could it have been that Michael Burks was
watching from the side of the stage and Sherman pulled out all the stops?
Sherman’s performance included; “Tin
Pan Alley”, “I Believe My Time Aint Long”, “Linda Lou”, “Who’s Loving You
Tonight” and “Am I Losing You”.
Michael Burks, Larry McCray & Carl
A great set of guitar led blues with
contrasting styles, Michael Burkes and Larry McCray leaning towards the rockier
end of the blues spectrum and Carl Weathersby very much in the old school of
Albert King style. Numbers included in the set were “Changes” and “Look Over
Yonder Wall”. Sherman Robertson joined the stage to provide four way guitar
Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges
His first main stage appearance at
the festival. Eugene was supported by bass, drums, and keyboards and on guitar
Rocky Athis. Eugene performed a set of songs from his most recent CDs including;
“Woke Up This Morning Singing The Blues”, “I Think I’m Moving On”, “Giving Up On
Love”, “Real Heroes”, “In Your Arms Tonight”, “A Change Is Gonna Come”, “Jump
The Joint” and a Jimmy Reed medley. A great set very well received by all.
Willie King & The Liberators
Guitarist and singer Willie King was
backed by guitar, keyboards and drums. Numbers included within this really
enjoyable set were “Ride Sally Ride”, “Smokestack Lightning”, “America Get
Together”, “Spoonful” and “Goodnight” based upon Bottle Up & Go. Willie also did
an audience walkabout during his set.
Vocalist and guitarist Terry Evans
was ably supported by guitar, bass and drums. He featured a number of songs that
he had recorded with Ry Cooder for the soundtrack to the “Crossroads” movie
including “Down at the Crossroads” and “Down in Mississippi”. Other songs
included; “Before You Accuse Me”, “Aint No Sunshine When You’re Gone”, “Credit
Card Blues” and “Early in the Morning”.
Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets
A very enjoyable performance form
Anson and the band featuring vocals from Renee Funderburgh and his keyboard
player, whose name I didn’t catch. The set included “It's a Lonely Thing” and
“Teen Na Neen Na Nu”.
The Robert Lockwood Jr Band with
Wallace Coleman and Cleveland Fats
The full band of two sax, guitar,
keyboards, bass and drums played a set that included; “The Way You Do The Things
You Do”, “Three O’Clock Blues”, “Everyday I Have The Blues”, “Georgia” and
“What’d Say”. I felt that without Robert Junior the band were somewhat listless
and directionless. Things picked up when Wallace Coleman and Cleveland Fats took
to the stage with Cleveland Fats playing “Steady Rolling Man”, “Take a Little
Walk With Me” and “Mean Red Spider”.
Hubert Sumlin & The Willie “Big Eyes”
Before the band came on stage Hubert
Sumlin was presented with the “Sonny” award for services to blues.
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith led the band
on harp and vocals and tore through a number of blues classics including; “I
Don’t Wanna Go”, “Tell Me Mamma”, “Don’t Start Me Talking” and “It a Woman’s
World”. Hubert joined the band and played a number of Howlin Wolf classics
including; “Killing Floor” and “Sitting On Top Of The World” with Hubert
blasting off his spiky killer licks. The band was then joined by Buddy Fleet on
slide guitar and the band carried on with “Dust My Broom”, “Shake Your Money
Maker” and “Smokestack Lightning”.
A magic end to the set was ensured by
the arrival on stage on Pinetop Perkins with the band running through “Down In
Mississippi”, “Got My Mojo Working” and “How Long Blues”. I thought that
Pinetops voice sounded stronger tonight than yesterday.
Returning to good health and form
Kenny delivered a great set funk blues originals such as “Any Fool Will Do” and
“Down Home Blues” mixed with a number of blues standards such as “Things That I
Used To Do”, “Honest I Do”, “Who’s Loving You Tonight” and “Blues Falling Down
Like Rain”. Kenny was joined by his daughter who sang her own composition
“Little Soldier”. During the set Kenny played both guitar and harp which he
played terrifically on “Who’s Loving You Tonight”.
The Mannish Boys
This band closed the festival in
style with the added attraction of a couple of guest singers. Fronted by the
twin guitars of Kid Ramos and Paris Slim their set included a mix of originals
and standards including; “All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go” and “I’m Ready”.
They were then joined by singer Johnny “Mississippi” Dyer who led the band
through “Manish Boy”, “You’re So Sweet”, “You Left Me With a Broken Heart” and
“I’m a Howlin Wolf”.
The band were then joined by the
excellent singer Finis Tasby who’s set included; “Mystery Train”, “Rocks on My
Pillow” plus a number of songs by Freddie King and T Bone Walker.
A great end to the festival.
Other acts over the festival
Houston Stackhouse Acoustic Stage
An enjoyable set of mainly electric
slide guitar played delta style. Songs included; “Brownsville Blues”, “Shake Em
On Down”, Blind Boy Fullers “She’s Got Something There” and Robert Wilkins
“That's No Way to Get Along”.
Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges
This was the first appearance by
Eugene at this festival and he showcased material from his latest CD including;
“Special Friend”, “Baby Your Love”, “In Your Arms Tonight” and “Life Has No
Meaning”. Due to luggage restrictions Eugene asked to borrow my Dobro for his
set so that he could paly “Life Has No Meaning”.
His encore “If You Don’t Wanna Love
Me” was dedicated to Hazel.
Didn’t see. However, I
caught Bill playing a set on Main Street during the festival.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
Mississippi Spoonman & Carla Robinson
Didn’t see this
time but saw him on the main stage two years ago.
Moreland & Arbuckle
Roy Book Binder
A wonderful set from an exquisite
guitar picker and raconteur. A varied set of finger picked blues and ragtime
including many anecdotes about Hacksaw Harney and Robert Lockwood Jr.
Songs played on his 1931 Kay Kraft
Jumbo guitar included; “It Must Be Love”, “Black Dog” (Bayliss Rose), “I’m Going
Home Some Day”, “New Age Woman Blues”, “I Got Mine” (Pink Anderson),
“Mississippi Blues” (Willie Brown) and “Another Man Done Full Gone Round”. The
well deserved applause was followed by an encore of “Electricity”.
Robert Lockwood Jr Heritage Stage
Dorothy “Miss Blues” Ellis
Rev Payton & Big Damn Band
Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames
Blind Mississippi Morris
Big Al & The Heavyweights
Artists playing on the street
included Bill Abel and
Terry “Harmonica” Bean.
This was a superb festival with
better weather than previous years. It was really enjoyable sitting on the levee
in temperatures in the mid nineties. A superb atmosphere, great music and a fun
bunch of people.
This year, I can honestly say that I
have had my fill of great southern food - Catfish Po’ Boys and Tamales. I will
miss these delights when at home.
Sunday 7th October
Cathead Mini Festival, Clarksdale,
James “T Model” Ford
Rev Payton & Big Damn Band
Robert “Bilbo” Thomas
The stage for this mini festival was
the store front of Cathead in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
It was great to meet up again with
Model Ford and Robert Belfour. T Model kept offering me a drink of his Jack
Daniels – of course I had to oblige. T Model’s set was typical original modern
delta blues with hints of the Mississippi Hill country thrown in. As usual his
grandson was pestering to join in on drum which he eventually did.
Next up were
Rev Payton & Big Damn Band
and this three piece band kicked up a storm. Their set was plagued by the trips
in the electricity supply, during one outage Rev Payton performed Charlie
Patton’s “Some These Days” on a National.
Robert “Bilbo” Thomas
performed I was asked to perform a couple of numbers while the equipment was
being set changed around. I used my wooden bodied Dobro, which Eugene “Hideaway”
Bridges had used on Friday, and was joined by a harmonica player from Chicago
and had fun playing in the early afternoon sunshine.
Robert “Bilbo” Thomas resplendent in
his red suit played a set of mostly covers including “Sweet Home Chicago”.
T Model Ford tried to join
Robert on stage which upset Robert no end with Robert lecturing T Model for some
Spent some time talking with
Robert Belfour prior to departing for Hopson’s Plantation.
Pinetop Perkins Homecoming –
Hopson’s Commissary, Clarksdale, Mississippi.
This charity event, held annually, is
a great way to end the festival weekend – a six hour jam session. The guest of
honour Pinetop Perkins was seated at the top table alongside
Hubert Sumlin. The
band of the afternoon was the Muddy Waters Band featuring
Bob Margolin, Bob
Stroger, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith” who took us through a couple of hours of
mainly Muddy Waters material.
Various King Biscuit Festival main
stage artists took the stage including Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges, Diunna
Greenleaf, Michael Burks and Carl Weathersby.
The final guitar duel between
Burks and Carl Weathersby was phenomenal.
This year an acoustic stage was set
up in the back room. A list was made of musicians wanting to play was made
available for the afternoon. Terry “Harmonica” Bean
opened the event playing both guitar and harmonica. I followed Terry and played
a half hour set which included “Kansas City” which I dedicated to Pinetop,
“Sweet Home Chicago”, “Little Red Rooster”, “Banty Rooster Blues” and “Delta
Medley”. It was so hot, no air conditioning, that sweat was pouring out of every
part of my body and it was difficult to keep my bottleneck on my finger.
A number of musicians followed of
which I only saw a couple including Rhode Island
was also performing outdoor to an appreciative audience.
Spent some time travelling around the
area looking out for the blues related sites in the Clarksdale area.
famous Clarksdale barber and musician, now has a grave maker at McLaurin
Cemetery which we found and photographed. The Rev
Willie Morganfield, Muddy Waters cousin is also
buried at this cemetery.
Stopped of at Friars Point and
north on old Highway 61 to Clack/Robinson to see the new Blues Trail Marker for
Son House that has been
erected at the location where the Library of Congress sessions were recorded.
back towards Clarksdale and stopped off at Stovall Farms to see the Blues Trail
marker at the site where Muddy Waters
cabin once stood.
Headed to Nashville for a couple of
days prior to flying home. In the area we visited Gruhns Guitars where I played
a number of vintage guitars (Nationals, Dobros, Martins and Gibsons) . Near
Opryland we visited the Gibson Dobro, mandolin and banjo workshop and played a
number of guitars in the Gibson shop.
A wonderful holiday once again, roll
on next time.
Now check out....
Down The Dirt Road (Part 1)
Down The Dirt Road (Part 2)
Down The Dirt Road (Part 3)
Down The Dirt Road (Part 4)
Article Text &
Photographs © Copyright 2007 Courtland
& Hazel Bresner.
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Website © Copyright 2000-2007 Alan
White. All Rights Reserved.