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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wild Woodys at Jukes 12/20

It's hard to believe that the Wild Woodys have been around since 1984. But that is indeed their inception date, according to their My Space page. Founder/guitarist/singer Scotty Spears has also done time with Detroit's own Twistin' Tarantulas. With such pedigree it should not be wondered why the Woody's have survived this long in a music scene dominated by trends and fads. But they have. You can see for yourself just why they might be around for another twenty years when the Wild Woodys play Jukes Bar on the west side of Grand Rapids on Saturday Dec. 20. On display that night will be their own take on classic roots music, more true to the rockabilly genre than either Rev. Horton Heat or the Tarantulas with less punk attitude. More like Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys, if you will. For this Christmas extravaganza at Jukes, the Wild Woodys feature "D.J" Dan 'Bones' McCoy on the drums.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reverend Horton Heat at The Intersection 12/7

The Intersection in Grand Rapids on Sunday wrapped up a full weekend of quality roots music with a performance by the Reverend Horton Heat. Again wielding his trademark hollow-body Gretsch guitar, the good Reverend proceeded to enthrall the faithful with his own fire-brand gospel psycho-billy. After a seemingly slow start, the Rev. (Jim Heath) got things going with the title track from "It's Martini Time." It wasn't long before the Rev. was dispensing the Christmas cheer with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and other seasonal gems. There was even a punk rendition of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" which only served as more fuel for the semi-crazed dancers (read moshers) down front. Speaking of down front, there was this guy who kept doing the lateral drill yelling for his favorite song, "Mar-i-juana!" until he finally got his wish about half way through. Other seasonal tidbits were in store, like "she took my sh*t in the divorce" marital bliss fodder, and "where in the hell did you go with my toothbrush" lament. The tune "Wigglestick" showed off Heat's guitar techniques, playing both lead and rhythm at the same time. With the Donna the Buffalo show on Friday at The Intersection, this weekend turned out like an early Christmas present for local roots music lovers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hank Mowery & The Hawktones at Billy's 12/12

As mentioned in the very first post on TMGR, you can't be quite sure of who Hank Mowery will have in tow for his appearances at Billy's. It could be Doug Deming from Detroit, Lil' Frank and company from Indiana(and acquired associates from Chicago), or rockabilly genius George Bedard. And it even could be local luminary Junior Valentine; or (on rare occasions) it might be Kim Wilson, with Steve Nardella, of Fabulous Thunderbirds fame. Up until about a year ago it could have even been the Gary Primich band from Austin TX. But one thing is almost nearly certain: no matter who Hank picks to back him up, it's going to be about as good as it gets around here. With that said, this Friday Dec. 12 at Billy's Lounge in Eastown proves no exception to the quality control rule when Mowery welcomes the jump blues stylings of Count Bracey and the Pleasuretones. The Pleasuretones features Troy Amaro on guitar, who can be seen locally playing with James Reeser. Chris "Count" Bracey (drums) has gigged with the aforementioned Deming and Wilson to name but a few. Be sure to catch this every-other-month occasion to treat yourself to some of the Midwest's best jump blues. www.hawktones.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blues Nazi's Among Us

From the liner notes of the Gary Primich release Company Man (Black Top 1997) written by the late Cub Koda, who couldn't be more correct all these years later:
I figure it this way: There's blues people, and then there's blues Nazi's. Blues Nazi's-the ones who always act like they're superior to everyone else because they know two more facts about Howlin' Wolf and bought their copy of The Best of Little Walter two years before everyone else did-are a most odious lot, divided into two distinct camps. In Column A, we have the ones who listen to it and write about it, who generally have that Charles Emerson Winchester on M.A.S.H air about them that makes you want to strangle their pear shaped asses. These are the doorknobs who think that everyone playing blues with white skin is some kind of sleazeball carpetbagger, utterly devoid of talent. In Column B, the ones who actually play it, like to keep the music totally mummified and preserved, regurgitating their record collection note for note, lick for lick, never advancing their conceptions any further until a new CD of Muddy Waters out-takes gets released. And if you think heavy metal bands dissing each other is just some genre folly of misinformed youth, just get a bunch of Nazi combos together and listen to them rip each other apart like a bunch of high school kiddies with more jealousy than talent going for them. You'll change your tune right quick.
Mem Shannon of New Orleans can't get gigs sponsored by the Blues Nazi's, often associated with blues society groups across this fair land, because he doesn't do shuffles or Sweet Home Chicago.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Donna the Buffalo in Grand Rapids at The Intersection 12/5

Donna the Buffalo return to West Michigan for a live show at The Intersection nightclub in Grand Rapids on Friday December 5th. No strangers to the 'Section stage, D the B appear in support of their most recent release Silverlined (Sugarhill) which features cameos by Bela Fleck, Claire Lynch, and, on the title track harmony vocal, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and Latin Playboys fame. Silverlined also features Kathy Ziegler helping Tara Nevins with some beautiful harmony singing ("Temporary Misery"), a trademark of the group. Donna's sound begins to begin with a foggy mountain string band foundation with equal sensibility jam band (ala the Grateful Dead) plus Cajun and reggae inflections. Three core members remain: Jeb Puryear (vocal, electric guitar); Nevins, (vocal, fiddle, acoustic guitar, accordion, scrubboard) and Tom Gilbert (drums). They farm out bass players (usually from Nashville) and this time around DTB carries a full-time keyboard player. DTB must be doing something right with the bass players, as Conrad Lonzano, (always) bassist with Los Lobos notes:
They have that old-school sound on the bass, nice reverb. Nobody does that anymore. He (DTB bass player) reminds me of Phil Lesh (of the Grateful Dead).
Dave Hidalgo chimes in, "They write good songs. There is something about them."

To be fair, a couple of DTB shows have seemed, well, under-whelming. Times when there was not much of an effort to connect further with the audience. As one fair-minded witness recalled, "they (DTB) seemed to have it on auto-pilot (that night)." Maybe a couple of days rest before the G.R. show on Friday will reap benefits in that regard.

D the B last appeared in the area at 5/3 Ballpark in Comstock Park in August, headlining the inaugural Silver Maple Music Festival. No strangers to the Mitten State, DTB has played such diverse locales as Cadillac, Blissfest (Cross Village), and the Dunegrass festival near Traverse City. www.sectionlive.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Free Thanksgiving Day dinner at Big O's 11/27

Once again the good people at Big O's are offering a free Thanksgiving Day dinner for those in need at their restaurant, Big O'Cafe, located at 80 Ottawa Ave, downtown Grand Rapids, between the hours of 10 am until 3 pm. Volunteers can stop by the restaurant after 6 pm on Wednesday 11/26. www.bigospizzas.com

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band at Billy's Lounge 11/22

"Rousing, hyper, and authentic brand of blues that sounds like what might come out of that secret meth lab nestled deep in the backwaters of the Mississippi Delta." - Cincinnati City Beat
This has to be one of the most anticipated and talked about shows to come to town yet this fall. TMGR is mostly unfamiliar with RPBDB aside from their recordings. To our knowledge, RPBDB has never played Grand Rapids. Hats off to Billy's Lounge for booking such an interesting show.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Donald Kinsey Band at River City Slim's 11/21

When not fronting his longtime band across the Midwest with his brothers in The Kinsey Report, Donald makes his home in the Grand Rapids area. One thing leads to another and now Donald has his own project going on, The Donald Kinsey Blues Band, in which he utilizes local talent. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Kinsey spent his formative years as band leader for blues /soul giant Albert King. He then went on to record/perform/tour with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and his late father, Lester "Big Daddy" Kinsey. The Kinsey Report made a home at Alligator records (Chicago) for many years. Cut to 1989: The Kinsey Report is scouted and considered for an opening slot on a North American tour with the Rolling Stones. Donald has worked with Albert Collins, sung with Chris Robinson (Black Crowes) on a tune called "I Take What I Want" from Crossing Bridges (pictured), and Kinsey recently invited David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) onstage at Buddy Guy's Legends blues club in Chicago to jam with The Kinsey Report. Joining Kinsey on vocals and guitar will be Andy Ogrodzinski, along with Jim Shaneberger on bass, vocals, and Tim Cowart at the drum set. Visit www.rivercityslims.com for more info.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Marc Broussard at The Intersection 11/19

Soul singer Marc Broussard has been on the scene since 2002. He has a new CD out now called Keep Coming Back (Atlantic) . A solid single off that release is the song "Real Good Thing." Marc will be showcasing many of these original tunes from Keep Coming Back in concert at The Intersection in Grand Rapids MI on Wednesday November 19. Marc's southern origins draw immediate parallels to singers like O.V. Wright and Al Green, and, to that end, people like Doyle Bramhall and Lee McBee. Marc was initially spotted singing with Solomon Burke at a Wilson Pickett tribute dinner at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by none other than Ahmet Ertegun who immediately signed young Broussard to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Marc also performed at half time of the 2008 NBA All Star Game in New Orleans. He is known for his philanthropic endeavors as well, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, undertaking a tour of U.S. military installations in 2007, and selling bootlegs to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. More information can be found at www.sectionlive.com and www.marcbroussard.com.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Organissimo at Founders Brewery 11/13

Organissimo is a local/regional jazzy jam-flavored trio that has sparked excitement with audiences since day one. Thursday night proved no exception as Organissmo's players enticed dancers of all stripes to take to the floor at the downtown Grand Rapids brewery. Playing selections from their catalog of three CDs, Organissimo performed straight ahead organ trio jazz material interspersed with their own extended play jams, much to the delight of the faithful in attendance. Organissimo's newest CD, Groovadelphia (pictured) was most recently in the Top 30 spins at listener-supported WNMC radio in Traverse City MI. Based on the work already produced, a well-spring of talent and ideas, I suggest that we may have only begun to scratch the surface of what these players have in store.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hank Mowery at Billy's Oct. 25

Whenever you attend a Hank "The Hawk" Mowery & the Hawktones show there is a solid chance that you'll be entertained by some of the best jump blues musicians in the Midwest. This was the case last Saturday night at Billy's Lounge located in (Eastown) Grand Rapids, MI. Backing up vocalist/harmonica player Mowery this evening was Detroit's premier jump blues outfit, Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones. Deming and company are an in-demand back up band for today's best blues players (primarily harp) including Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Dennis Gruenling, Greg "Fingers" Taylor, A.C. Reed, and a European tour with the late Gary Primich. They were the perfect compliment for Hank's Slim Harpo-inspired harp licks. A sure standout for the Jewel Tones this night was Julian Van Slyke on drums. Julian's easy-does-it, economical style proved once again that 'less is more.' Way more.