Memphis Blues Again ! Blues Under the Bridge 2016


Distinguished Professor of the Blues Mr. Booker T. Jones takes the crowd through music history, from Muddy Waters to Hendrix to Prince, then back to Bo Diddley.


Festival Takes- Blues Under the Bridge, Colorado Springs, CO July 30, 2016

” Let’s go to Memphis in the  meantime, baby…” – John Hiatt

” Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee…” – Chuck Berry

” Bye, bye, so long. Goin’ back to Memphis with a picture and a song..”- Ben Nichols

For one day a year, the asphalt canopy of the Colorado Avenue Bridge shields patrons of Colorado Springs’ finest annual event from the July sun and mountain thunderstorms to attend Blues Under the Bridge. Powered by perhaps its strongest lineup ever, the 2016 BUB delivered a kick in the pants to the city’s torpid music scene and transported fans down the Mississippi River to Soul City, USA, via an iconic blues giant and a white-hot newcomer.


Gone from years past was the flatbed trailer parked next to the tracks, with the drum kit seemingly within high-five range of the day’s Casey Jones. The new stage was a pre-fab with an overhang and back wall that somewhat insulated the band from the nearby rails, but musicians throughout the day could be heard saying, ” we’ll wait till the train goes by to start this one..”, although they usually just cranked up shortly thereafter even if the coal cars were still clanging by on their way to Pueblo.


Nice upgrade from the flatbed trailer, but you miss seeing the trains behind the drum kit!



Stage hands trying to nap between trains passing behind the stage.


Opening this year’s fest were local faves Grant Sabin and Jesse Cotton Stone. Their roots blues set ranged widely from Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf to fuzz-laced wails evoking Hendrix. Be sure to catch these guys together and in solo sets at Southside Johnny’s,  Alchemy, and Whistle Pig Brewing Co. Check local listings!



With a shift toward a blend of Delta Blues, swing, and boogie-woogie, Eric Boa and the Constrictors then tore into a fine set, showcasing the long-time Boulder sideman’s thorough knowledge of crowd-pleasing blues classics, including Muddy Waters’ ” I Can’t Be Satisfied “, and newer material like Gary Clark Jr.’s ” Don’t Owe You A Thing ”


Eric Boa and the Constrictors


The surprise addition to the lineup this year was the completely unknown Southern Avenue, reputed to be the current must-see local band in Memphis. Behind only a six-song EP and a single, ” What Did I Do ? “, featuring slide by North Mississippi Allstars ‘ Luther Dickinson, the band has built a huge following on regional blues circuits in their first year playing together. Built around the torrid licks of Israeli guitarist Ori Naftaly and the irrepressible onstage presence of singer/dancer/cheerleader Tierinii Jackson, the high energy soul-roots- blues rockers captured the crowd’s attention and was quickly drawing  from the fans’ enthusiasm.


Constant action with Tierinii Jackson!

Befitting their home base in the Memphis sound melting pot, the band played a wide range of material, including ( who knew? ) Willie Nelson’s ” Nightlife “, Al Green’s ” So Tired of Being Lonely “, and Prince’s ” Kiss ” , as well as originals. The encore ” Don’t Let Go ” showcased Naftali in a series of solos, at times sounding like John Fogerty on early Creedence.


Sound Avenue: (l-r) Ori Naftali, Tikyra Jackson, Tierinii Jackson, and Daniel McKee


Legacy blueswoman Shamekia Copeland, daughter of Texas legend Johnny Copeland ( check out his ” Showdown ” CD with Robert Cray and Albert King if you see it in the cutout bin ) has made her own way from New York with a soulful, gospel-based brand of blues. Her set featured tracks from her latest release, “Living On the Outskirts of Love “, as well as a sizzling cover of her father Johnny’s ” Devil’s Hand “. She closed with ” Ain’t Gonna Be Your Tatoo ” and a wild encore of ” It’s 2 a.m. Do You Know Where Your Baby Is? ”


Shamekia spreads the blues gospel in the Rockies!


A showing of respect is appropriate in the presence of royalty, and the fans rose in tribute to Memphis icon Booker T. Jones as he strode onstage to join his son Tad and their killer band.


Booker T. greats the fans




Booker’s son Tad shone on several solos, including ” Blues For Father and Son “, and trading vocals with his father on Prince’s ” Purple Rain “

Booker’s set drew broadly from songwriters he has admired over the years– Muddy Waters, Hendrix, Albert King — and was spiced with short anecdotes about his observations of great musicians plying their craft.  His own history is astounding – writing and recording ” Green Onions ” while still in high school in Memphis, playing in the house band behind legendary Stax artists like Otis Redding and Rufus Thomas, taking a scholarship to attend the prestigious music program at Indiana University ( and recently receiving an honorary Doctorate ), writing ” Time Is Tight ” while walking along the Seine in Paris, moving to L.A. and producing great artists like Willie Nelson, recording ” Potato Hole ” backed by the Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young on guitar…and living to see even your earliest work hold up over decades and generations of listeners. To have him grace the Bridge stage and close out a gorgeous day at the festival was an extraordinary treat. And a tough act to follow for next year’s fest! As Booker’s huge fan Patterson Hood says,    ” see you at the rock show! ”



The fans taking in another outstanding lineup under the Colorado Avenue Bridge in the Depot Arts District.


– Your humble mountain correspondent, Nanker Phledge.




” Fire Water in the Fast Lane ” – Joe Walsh and Bad Company

IMAG2261 (1)

Waddy Wachtel and Joe Walsh out front at Red Rocks

Concert review- Joe Walsh and Bad Company, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO 5/15/16

” Well, the Rocky Mountain Way is better than the way we had…Oh-oh yeah ! ” – Joe Walsh

” Joe Vitale and I moved to Colorado in …1971 and a half …”, and since then Coloradans have considered Joe Walsh a native. From the James Gang days, with Joe’s original Huge Riff Song  ” Funk 49 ” and the cool burn of ” Walk Away “,  the Centennial State has embraced Joe fondly. With the celebratory ” Rocky Mountain Way “, his place in local lore was cemented. Most Front Range rock fans have their own story of a cool thing Joe did here, the most common being his habit of showing up at KBCO and disc jockeying a shift, sometimes for several days in a row. When the Eagles finally stopped milking their legacy, err, touring several years back,  Joe resumed gigging with his own band, playing not only his trademark Eagles songs – ” Life In the Fast Lane ” and  ” Pretty Maids All In A Row ” – – but the James Gang pearls and his solo tunes like ” In the City “, ” Life’s Been Good “, ” Over and Over “and ” Turn To Stone “. The current lineup backing Joe includes Joe Vitale, his Barnstorm bandmate on drums as well as  Chad Cromwell ; Waddy Wachtel on guitar; Larry Young on bass and Jimmy Wallace on keyboards, Leslie Fuller, Connie Jackson, Windy Wagner and Rickey Washington  as background singers and Clayton Janes on samples.

Joe’s last gig at Hudson Gardens in Denver showed his sensitive side, with a heartfelt tribute to the then-recently departed Levon Helm. Joe played in Levon’s  Midnight Ramble  bands in Woodstock, and admitted that ” I’m not okay with his passing ” before launching an unhurried, mournful version of ” I Shall Be Released “. And this Red Rocks show’s finest moment was Joe’s tribute to ” my friend and brother, Glen Frey “, a moving version of the Eagles’ ” Take It to the Limit “. At first it seemed incongruous to choose a song by then-bassist Randy Meisner when Frey had so many great tunes. But the lyrics rung true – ” All alone at the end of the evening …if it all fell to pieces tomorrow, would you still be mine? ” – and the spotlighted vocal by backing singer Rickey Washington was emotionally charged. The photo montage projected behind the band was filled with old Frey photos, some with his arms around Walsh, and evoked memories of the early days when the Eagles seemed so unaffected by stardom.

The somber moments at Joe’s shows are leavened with humor. At Hudson Gardens , Joe remembered being solicited to contribute a song ( ” In the City ” ) to the 1979 teen gang movie ” The Warriors “. Joe told the producers, ” I know about that.. I was in a gang in high school. We weren’t very tough…we had to be home by seven..” Last night’s opening greeting was ” Good morning”, as if he meant it, and the lead-in to ” Life’s Been Good ” was a funny tale of an airport fan who begged Joe to confirm his identity, then swore that he couldn’t be Joe. ” Lucky I’m still sane after all I’ve been through ..”, as  the song goes.

Joe’s playing was remarkable throughout, and he easily delivered the arena-friendly riffs and solos so well known to his fans. His voice was plenty strong, if fading in the upper register, and the backing vocals were arena-necessary. When Joe intro’d the encore with : ” If I were President…this would be the National Anthem “, everyone in the joint knew what was coming: ” Spent the last year, Rocky Mountain Way, couldn’t get much higher ”


Paul Rodgers and Bad Company on ” The Sky Is Burning “


” Let me tell you about the voices in my head… there’s Levon Helm, there’s Paul Rodgers, and David Barbe..” – Mike Cooley

Back when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, Paul Rodgers fronted a great blues rock band named Free, best known for the hit ” All Right Now “, but widely admired for their gritty, uncluttered lamentations like ” Fire And Water ” , ” Heartbreaker “, and ” Don’t Say You Love Me “. That band had a gift for playing slowly,  a trait that would mark Rodgers’ later work. Despite success and acclaim for Rodgers and guitarist Paul Kossoff, Free dissolved in 1973 when bassist Andy Fraser returned to his band Sharks.

Free in Amsterdam 1970 (l-r) Kossoff, Fraser, Kirke, Rodgers, and Winwood

Free in Amsterdam 1970 (l-r) Kossoff, Fraser, Kirke, Rodgers, and guest Winwood

Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke then teamed with guitarist Mick Ralphs ( Mott the Hoople ) and bassist Boz Burrell ( King Crimson ) to form Bad Company.  The band’s sound showcased Rodgers’ vocals and Ralphs’ sparse guitar work ( one critic groused that you had to squeeze solos out of Ralphs like a lemon ) .  Rodgers took some interesting turns after Bad Company, including a Muddy Waters-themed tour with (Santana and Journey) axeman Neil Schon and later fronting a post- Freddie Mercury version of Queen.

Regrettably, Boz Burrell died in 2006, and  Mick Ralphs had to miss the current Bad Company tour for health reasons, but Rodgers and Kirke -the original singer and drummer from Free and Bad Co – made the ride this time, ensuring that the bands’ trademark sound would essentially be intact.The rest of the band this tour will also include former Heart member and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Howard Leese (guitar) and Todd Ronning (bass), both longtime members of Rodgers’s solo group. And while  The Black Crowes’ estimable Rich Robinson, a late tour addition after Ralphs cancelled, was stashed in the background until the encore, veteran guitarist Leese held his own on the lead solos that the fans knew well.Their eponymous first LP holds up remarkably 40 years on , and essentially was the set list for this show, with the addition of later hits ” The Sky Is Burning” and  ” Rock and Roll Fantasy “.  Highlights included smoking versions of ” Moving On ” , ” Bad Company “, Burrell’s great ” She’s Gone “, and ” Rock Steady “, with Robinson finally stepping up to deliver a scorching solo to cap the encore, as well as an acoustic version of ” Seagull “, with Rodgers, Leese, Robinson, and even Kirke on guitars.

Sadly, the only Free tune was in the intermission soundtrack, the late Michael” Iron Man ” Burks’ red-hot cover of ” Fire and Water “, but the replay of the Bad Company LP was more than enough to satisfy the Boomers that packed the sold-out iconic venue. On the heels of Joe Walsh’s set, no one could deny the promoters’ assertion that this would be   ” One Hell of A Night “.

Life has also been good to our Rocky Mountain correstpondent Nanker Phledge. Thanks, Nanks! – Editors.


Springing the Blues 2016

Festival Takes- Springing the Blues, Jacksonville Beach, FL April 1-3, 2016

Samantha Fish

Saturday night headliner Samantha Fish

Blues fans across the South know that the first weekend in April brings the nation’s only free oceanfront blues festival to Northeast Florida. STB has managed to cobble together a fine lineup of talented bands every year to the perpetually blighted end of Beach Boulevard, where the ocean breezes caress the food vendors and kitsch hawkers within earshot of both the Main Stage and the smaller inland Blues Lounge. This year’s fest brought expanded VIP seating up front, a return of the perpetually headlining Lee Boys, and an adjusted artist schedule that had bands on both stages starting and finishing simultaneously. The latter brought much grousing from the hardcore attendees, who bemoaned the lost opportunity to check out artists in both venues, and the pleasures of constant music from one stage or the other. With three days of music, some sampling is usually required, and our intrepid reporter weighs in with some highlights from this year:

Friday night

Opening night brought a strong lineup including area standout Toots Lorraine and Traffic and STB first timers Sean Chambers Band. Toots plays jazz and blues standards to great effect, and her voice holds up well in both the large and small stage settings.

Toots Lorraine and Traffic

Toots Lorraine and Traffic

Blues rock was next on the menu, with the Sean Chambers Band blowing up the Lounge stage with their mix of originals ” Full Moon on Main Street”, ” You Gotta Help ” and          ” Here and Now”, along with genre standards like Willie Mitchell’s ” Come to Papa ” and a rather obscure Alvin Lee ( yes, he of Ten Years After and the incredible ” Coming Home” in the Woodstock movie) track ” Choo Choo Mama”.

Sean Chambers Band

Sean Chambers Band

For many fans, Friday night belonged to festival favorite Selwyn Birchwood, the guitar whiz tasked with opening the fest from the Lounge stage. By the time his set was over, many fans followed him to the Main Stage, where he held the crowd with a tight set of originals ” Hoodoo Stew ” and ” Pick Your Poison “. His lap slide playing was especially tasty, and he left the stage to enthusiastic applause. We caught up to Selwyn later at the merch tent, where he was checking the inventory of CDs, shirts, and glasses.

Selwyn Birchwood

Selwyn Birchwood checking inventory at the merch tent.( Photo by AussieGirl )

Which brought to mind the best way to support the artists: buy your CDs at the show and send the money directly to the artist. Many times when CDs are pressed the artist is given a number of complimentary discs to sell or distribute, and these are usually what’s seen at the merch tent. Don’t put that big box store between the artist and your purchase!

Saturday afternoon/evening

After a thunderous morning storm the clouds cleared over Jax Beach, making way for sunshine over the crowd during sets from Kim Reteguiz and the Black Cat Bones, the Parker Urban Band, and Eryn Shewell, who delivered a great cover of Lowell Fulson’s blues chestnut ” Little By Little”.

Eryn Shewell

Eryn Shewell onstage and on the big screen

The VIP section in front of the Main Stage was still not jammed by late afternoon, but a blistering set from Toronzo Cannon pulled fans from the food and ” arts ” ( we’ll use that term loosely here) plaza to their folding chairs in VIP and their blankets and canvas chairs for the hoi polloi in back. True to form, the hard rocking Samantha Fish served up a rock-flavored set of arena-friendly blues tunes, including selections from her 2015 release  ” Wild Heart “. The Kansas City star showed why the Blues Foundation has nominated her for their 2016 Best Contemporary Female award.We hope she wins!

But for Saturday night, the best action was at the small Lounge Stage, where the Corbitt Clampitt Experience appeared at 6:40, just as the sun was setting on the Fest. They were shortly joined onstage by comrade John Parker Urban, and the twin-lead guitar lineup quickly jolted the crowd with a tight set that at times reminded older fans of the halcyon days of the Marshall Tucker Band. Although Urban was initially buried in the mix, the sound booth made adjustments and the band pushed through on numbers like Pinetop Sparks’ ( notably covered by BB King ) ” Every Day I Have the Blues “.

Corbitt Clampitt with Parker Urban

Corbitt Clampitt with John Parker Urban

The band’s rousing finale of Dave Mason ( no, Joe Cocker didn’t write it, though his version is the best known)’s ” Feeling Alright ” brought two terrific singers to the packed stage ( come on guys, introduce them! ) and the crowd to its feet. The band has a strong local following and the rocking ensemble feel to the rolling tune had fans loudly singing and dancing along.

Corbitt Clampitt Experience with John Parker Urban

Corbitt Clampitt Experience with John Parker Urban and ladies

Had the fest ended there for the night, few would have complained. But despite the tough act to follow, national blues fest veteran Mr. Sipp ( a nod to his Mississippi roots) skipped onstage in his red lowtop Converse Chuck Taylors to cap the evening with his engaging presence and professional delivery of rocking blues, notably his own ” I Hit the Jackpot “.

Mr. Sipp

Mr. Sipp

Mr. Sipp and red Chuck Taylors

Mr. Sipp and red Chuck Taylors


Sunday afternoon

Perhaps the loveliest day of the Spring graced the fest on Sunday, and the locals came by bikes, skateboards, and sandals to the oceanfront venue to close things down. The fest was headlined again by the popular Lee Boys  a funk and gospel band based out of Miami. The band plays in the Sacred Steel tradition that arose out of the House of God Church. Having seen them several times, we opted for the Lounge stage, where  we were treated to a fine set from Jarekus Singleton, highlighted by a great version of William Bell and Booker T. Jones’ R and B classic ” Born Under A Bad Sign “, popularized by Albert King and Cream.

Jarekus Sigleton

Jarekus Sigleton ( photo by AussieGirl )

But this fine set was merely a warm-up for many fans’ Main Event of the fest, an appearance by local hero Conrad Oberg, who rose from Jacksonville arts magnet Douglas Anderson School of the Arts to become an international blues figure, with over 4 million worldwide YouTube views.

Conrad Oberg waiting during Jarekus Simpson set

Conrad Oberg waiting during Jarekus Simpson set

Born profoundly prematurely and blind at a pound and a half, Conrad overcame huge obstacles to learn keyboards from age two until given his first guitar at age ten. Five years later he played the Hendrix-style National Anthem at the Woodstock Reunion! His appearance at STB continues his touring in support of his 2013 release ” Spoonful “.

Conrad Oberg

Conrad Oberg ( photo by AussieGirl )

Conrad’s set featured many tunes from the ” Spoonful ” CD, including Willie Dixon’s title cut ( famously covered by Cream on ” Wheels of Fire” ) and Dixon’s ” I Just Wanna Make Love to You” ( the Foghat version is well known to classic rock fans ). Conrad started slowly, seemingly warming to the crowd, before tearing it up on ” Mojo Mofo “, Doug Sahm’s ” She’s About A Mover “, and Robert Johnson’s ” If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day “. During extended solos, he would drift into well-known riffs from similar tunes, tossing P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri’s ” Secret Agent Man ” into the Ventures’               ” Pipeline “, and Led Zep’s ” Heartbreaker ” into the White Stripes’ ” Seven Nations “. Wisely choosing familiar rock-influenced blues tunes for the mostly pre-Millennial crowd, Oberg seemingly peaked with scorching versions of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ” Texas Flood” and the Allmans’ ” Whipping Post ” . But the finale was another surprise: a reprise of Huddie ” Lead Belly ” Ledbetter’s ” Black Betty “, hewed closely to the 1977 rock version by Ram Jam.

Conrad Oberg onstage

Conrad Oberg rocks ” Black Betty “

While not what anyone would consider ” blues “, the covers of these rock standards showed their somewhat obscured blues roots, verifying McKinley Morganfield’s conclusion that ” the blues done had a baby, and they named the baby Rock and Roll “. Call it what you want ( as Junior Wells says ), Springing the Blues delivered again.


Many thanks to our roving correspondent Nanker Phledge for this report !

” The Opening Act ” – Drive-By Truckers at Red Rocks


DBT on the big screen

Patterson Hood, flanked by Matt Patton and Mike Cooley. Unlike Sheriff Pusser, no need for “some big-time Hollywood actor playin’ him on the big screen ” !

Concert review: Drive-By Truckers at Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO 8/16/2015

” The clouds started formin’, five o’clock p.m. ..” – Patterson Hood, DBT: ” Tornadoes “

2015 has been the Summer of Rain at the world’s most beautiful outdoor venue, with an extraordinary number of shows doused by evening showers. In June I stood in a hailstorm through a terrific set by Doyle Bramhall II , wondering if my buddy Il Padrone was riding the storm out in the Men’s room, or had bailed for the parking lot. The Rocks is a No Pass Out venue, meaning no runs to the parking lot, but on that night they announced that anyone could retreat to their cars and return when the Tedeschi-Trucks Band could safely start their set. These considerations crossed my mind as I stood in line with other General Admissioners, layered in less-than-waterproof gear as the ” clouds spat rain “. Many artists allow the Rocks to leave the first and last 20 rows as GA, and if you queue up early you’re pretty likely to get a great seat for a cheaper price.

Red Rocks from top

Red Rocks from top before the Rock Show !

As the rain fell on the line, and I gazed at the dry sanctuary of my Tundra not 50 feet away, I ruminated on my personal Pantheon of musicians and bands, wondering just who I’d stand in the rain to see. The Stones, Springsteen, the North Mississippi Allstars….  yeah, the DBT are on that short list. And with the Bestman, JenniRose, and the Biker Chick all counting on me to hold some sweet seats, I hunkered down and waited for Security to wave us in for the long climb to the turnstiles and the run for the primo spots up front.

” I’m just the Opening Act and I hit my mark…” – Hood, DBT: ” The Opening Act “

Having evangelized the DBT Gospel ad nauseum since TJ turned me on to the band in 2003, it pained me to see them have to open for the Alabama Shakes, a band that Patterson Hood helped launch, in their first appearance at the Rocks. Having seen the Shakes open for Neil Young and Crazy Horse back in 2012, I would have passed on this show but for the boys from Muscle Shoals. The band has wound through some lineup changes since the halcyon days of Southern Rock Opera and the tour de force The Dirty South , with Jason Isbell moving on to dominate the new Americana genre, and bassist Shonna Tucker and pedal steel virtuoso John Neff leaving to find their own paths. The current lineup since 2012 features young bassist Matt Patton and Jay Gonzalez on keyboards and guitar, sometimes simultaneously. Most hardcore DBT fans consider the changes a net positive, with no more Tucker compositions to work into sets and the harder rock edge without pedal steel, yet yearn for Isbell to return like the Prodigal Son. With the band tearing into ” Tornadoes “, ” Gravity’s Gone “, ” Lookout Mountain “, and ” Shit Shots Count “, there was no time to mourn past lineups, just ” shut your mouth and get your ass on the plane “.

” Remember it ain’t too late to take a deep breath and throw yourself into it with everything you’ve got… it’s great to be alive ! ” – Hood, DBT: ” World of Hurt “

Perhaps honoring the revered venue, the band shockingly appeared onstage in dress coats and vested suits, with Hood sporting his shortest haircut since high school. Muscle Shoals natives Hood and Cooley traded compositions throughout the set, with iconic tunes like ” Sinkhole ” and ” Uncle Frank ” interspersed with rarely heard  ” Pauline Hawkins ” and ” Get Downtown “. The band doesn’t often play much from A Blessing and A Curse, the     ” not happy album ” borne of the Isbell/Tucker divorce and Jason’s departure, well chronicled in the band documentary The Secret to A Happy Ending. But for this night, the rendition of ” World of Hurt ” took on an uplifting tone, and when Hood spread his arms to embrace the granite amphitheater crowd and holler, ” It’s great to be alive “, it felt like redemption, as if the current band could honor the past and blaze into the future.

DBT onstage

DBT onstage, flanked by some other band’s equipment.

” I’m just the Opening Act and the van is packed; haulin’ ass to another State…” –  Hood,DBT: ” The Opening Act “

When your band is cited by Rolling Stone as the best live act in America not 3 years ago, it might be a bitter pill to have to open for what might be a lesser talent. But regrettably Deserve’s got nothing to do with it, and the band respectfully tore up the stage for their allotted time and creatively avoided upstaging the headliners by announcing that ” Grand Canyon ” would be their last song. The lovely tribute to their late friend and guitar tech Craig Lieske built to a sonic climax as Hood, Cooley, Gonzalez, Patton, and finally drummer Brad Morgan took bows and applause and walked offstage. As the lights came up and the canned blues filtered over the crowd, it was clear there would be no encore from the band famous for several. To nail the end of the set, leaving the crowd yearning for more, and walk off into the Rocky Mountain night…that’s a tough act to follow. I resisted the urge to bust on the unenlightened just entering the Rocks as my crew skipped out past the ushers warning, ” you can’t come back in “. No need to on this night.

” The secret to a Happy Ending is knowing when  to roll the credits…” – Hood, DBT: ” World of Hurt “


Your faithful mountain correspondent, Nanker Phledge



” Hey Ya! ” – Booker T. Jones at the Soiled Dove Underground

Booker T. onstage at SDU

Booker T. , the Master of the Hammond B3, strokes the keys at SDU

Concert review- Booker T. Jones- Soiled Dove Underground, Denver, CO 6/12/15

” I saw him later at the Monterrey Pop Festival. Only this time, he wasn’t playing the Isleys’ music. He was playing his music. And we all poured out of the dressing room to go see him .”

That’s Booker T. Jones, talking about Jimi Hendrix, whom he had first seen playing in a club in Indianapolis with the Isley Brothers. At that time, Booker was at the world-class school of music at Indiana U. in Bloomington on a full scholarship. This might have been a daunting course of study for a humble kid out of Memphis, except this kid had already made great records as the keyboardist for the Stax Records house band behind the likes of Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Rufus Thomas, as well as writing and recording the hit  ” Green Onions ” with  Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Al Jackson, Jr. as Booker T. and the MGs. Oh yeah, and that was while Booker was in high school. The gig at Monterrey was immortalized in the Hendrix/Redding LP, ” Live at Monterrey Pop “, with Otis upstaging rock’s royalty – the bill included The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin – with his unforgettable version of Chris Brown’s ” Try A Little Tenderness “.

Fast forward to 2015, and Booker is an elder statesman of music history, with a roster of LP appearances, songs crafted, and production ( who knew he was at the boards on Willie Nelson’s ” Stardust ” ? ) rivaling anyone on this side of the grass today. The Soiled Dove show was a veritable tour through a Mount Rushmore of rock and R and B, with Booker in the role of docent, guiding the cognoscenti and newbies alike with snippets of memories and back stories galore. Beginning with the organ intro from the soundtrack to  the Clint Eastwood classic ” Hang Em High “, Booker oozed relaxed confidence as he shared the first of many remembrances: the hit single for the MGs, a cover of the soundtrack version by Hugo Montenegro,  was written by then-Los Angeles Rams owner Dominic Frontierre, apparently moonlighting in the movie biz. Next up was blues legend Albert King, and  ” Born Under A Bad Sign “, famously covered by Cream. Booker has said that he and songwriting partner William Bell crafted this R and B standard the very night before Albert showed up in Memphis for his session. Talk about deadline pressure! Booker stayed with Albert on the latter’s ” Pretty Woman ” ( decidedly not the Roy Orbison tune of the same title ), noting that he played his original instrument, the upright bass, on King’s recording of the song.

Booker T. and Ted

Booker takes center stage on guitar, with son Ted in background. Photo courtesy of SuziQ

Nicely pacing the set with covers and originals, Jones sandwiched Hendrix’ bluesy ” Hey Joe ” between the MGs’ ” Green Onions ” and ” Hip Hug-Her ” . Then on to ” one of the most unusual men I’ve ever met “, the prehistoric  rocker Ellas McDaniel, a/k/a Bo Diddley, with an obscure tune that Jones left unnamed.  Jones would later swing back to the 50s blues legends with Muddy Waters’ ” Mannish Boy “. One could almost follow Highway 61 along the banks of the Mississippi River with Booker as he sampled the sweeping range of musical genres that came through Memphis during his formative years.

Ice and Ted Jones

( l-r ) Vernon ” Ice ” Black, Ted Jones, and Melvin Brannon, Jr.

That exposure to a wide variety of styles leads Booker to places you wouldn’t expect. Referencing an award ceremony in Minneapolis, he recounted the appearance of local eminence Prince, and deftly segued into a lovely version of ” Purple Rain ” with his son Ted. To see father and son alone together onstage, trading heartfelt verses in a gentle, almost quiet arrangement, was a touching moment and a musical treat.

Booker and Ted

Who woulda thought? Booker and Ted pay tribute to Prince Rogers Nelson.

Booker’s hits have all been instrumentals, but his voice is surprisingly supple and his phrasing is relaxed. He stayed within his range, and his sincere delivery was at times compelling. Stepping out to center stage on guitar, he showed a disciplined musicianship befitting a guy who directed his high school band and orchestra from the day he showed up as a freshman.

(l-r) Melvin Brannon, Jr. on bass, Ted Jones on guitar, Booker T. on guitar and vocals

(l-r) Melvin Brannon, Jr. on bass, Ted Jones on guitar, Booker T. on guitar and vocals. Photo courtesy SuziQ

Jones closed the set with the MGs’ ” Soul Limbo ” ( our late Harry Gebippe’s favorite Booker tune ), and ” Hey Ya ! ” from his Grammy-winning collaboration with the Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young, Potato Hole . Booker took pains to thank his outstanding band     ( Vernon ” Ice ” Black and Ted Jones on guitars, Darian Gray on drums, and Melvin Brannon Jr. on bass ), and stepped offstage only briefly . Almost in thanks to the crowd, Booker launched into his most familiar hit, ” Time Is Tight “.  Booker has said that the song was  written as he gazed upon the Seine River in Paris, and the gentle but pulsing tempo coupled with Booker’s feathery chords by  gave the feel of a watery current beneath the floor of the Soiled Dove. Time for another musical giant? Another cohort from Booker’s past? Yes, back to Otis Redding and the hit written with Jerry ” The Iceman ” Butler ,          ” I’ve Been Loving You Too Long “. Too long to stop now, indeed, Mr. Jones.

Booker T. at the SDU

Booker T. Jones sharing the wisdom of the musical ages.

— Nanker Phledge

The editors would like to welcome back our intrepid mountain correspondent Mr. Phledge from his extended ” vacation ” at an undisclosed location.

” Keep On Growin’ “–Tedeschi-Trucks Band- Florida Theatre January 16, 2015


The happy couple onstage at the Florida Theatre. As John Hiatt says, ” it’s on the National Register ( of Historic Places) “

Concert Review- Tedeschi-Trucks Band, the Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, FL 1/16/15

” Back in the 1970s, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth”, as Patterson Hood says, a scrawny local kid with a ballcap visored way down his forehead stood boldly on the Florida Theatre stage as the opening act for B.B. King, wailing on slide guitar as if he belonged there. The King of the Blues later invited the kid to join him onstage, and hugged him afterward, telling the crowd: ” Imagine how good he’ll be when he gets to my age! ”

But it all seemed too much for any kid to live up to. Born on the First Coast into a musical heritage as the nephew of founding Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, named after Eric Clapton’s alter ego with soulmate Duane Allman on arguably the greatest blues-rock album ever  , cast as a prodigy on slide before he left high school…how could anyone not be crushed or sucked in by the weight of all this? By continuing to grow, yet staying true to his roots, Derek Trucks went beyond the hype, earned his peers’ respect, and now leads the best touring band in the U.S. with his powerhouse blueswailing wife Susan Tedeschi. As the First Family of the Blues, they returned to the Florida Theatre on the heels of wildly successful tours, award-winning records, and critical acclaim. The locals welcomed them home with roaring approval throughout their pulsating two hour set.

Tedeschi and Trucks

Derek is totally engaged…he just doesn’t talk about it!

Derek’s growth from sideman to bandleader has reflected his broad musical tastes, and the full ensemble band allows him to stretch in many directions. Beginning with the twin-drum lineup trademarked by the Allmans, the current TTB features keys, bass, two backup singers, and a three-piece horn section. Throw in Susan’s own formidable chops on guitar, and you have a huge sound base with a wide variety of ingredients. Derek’s willingness to let the band take solos and leads throughout the show kept things cooking, whether it was Kofi Burbridge on keys and flute, Kebbi Williams on sax, or the always scintillating Mike Mattison on vocals.

Tedeschi Trucks band

Mike Mattison reaches for that upper register!

Beginning with ” Are You Ready/Made Up Mind “, the band rolled through a veritable Best Of selections from their three CDs, spiced with a few covers, including Deadrick Malone’s ” I Pity the Fool “. Fans cheered wildly as favorites ” Do I Look Worried? “, ” Midnight Up In Harlem “, and ” Idlewind ” ( with a tasty solo by Burbridge on flute) paced the set, culminating in a rousing ” Bound For Glory “. With each song, another member of the band would be featured as soloist, often extending into short jams and interplays that no doubt serve to keep the material fresh through the many nights onstage. Susan was in fine, strong voice, and seemed to be playing notably better, often trading leads with Derek before he took off into his own stringed stratosphere. The band’s sound ventured into jazz at times, veered back toward R and B, and even swung around to traditional acoustic blues.

Through the years, Derek’s onstage demeanor has changed little. The tours alongside Eric Clapton, the years next to Warren Haynes as an Allman Brother, and the side projects with roots musicians like JJ Grey have kept Derek humble and seemingly unaffected by his great success. True to form, he said nothing onstage and merely waved to the crowd at the close of the set. Paying tribute to his namesake, Derek and Susan often include a Clapton cover in their set, from Bobby Whitlock’s Dominoes rocker ” Anyday ” all the way back to Blind Faith and ” Presence of the Lord ” during the Allmans’ show at Wanee years back. This night, they returned to ” Layla” with another Clapton/Whitlock tune, ” Keep On Growin’ “, as the encore of choice, to thunderous applause from the aging boomer crowd, many of whom likely have vinyl ” Laylas ” gathering dust in boxes in the garage.


The view from the balcony at the Florida Theatre


Looking back to Riley B. King’s prognostication, it didn’t take a bluesman’s lifetime for Derek Trucks to mature into a musician’s musician and a artist of commensurate stature to the King himself. All hail the new King and Queen of Blues Rock!


IMAG0592A hearty welcome back and Happy New Year to our Florida correspondent, Nanker Phledge… how about showing up now and then, Nanks?  – Editors












” Nashville’s where you go, to see if what is said is so..”– Americana Music Honors and Awards 2014

Americana Finale

There was no red carpet or phalanx of photographers to navigate as I slipped into the Mother Church of Country Music, the  Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, making my way into the 13th annual Americana Music Honors and Awards ceremony.  I guess they were all out back, photographing the stars from the TV show, ‘Nashville’. The event was held September 17th, to honor artists chosen by voting members of the AMA for six ‘best of’ categories, and five awards of merit for a lifetime of work. What was once called ‘Alt-Country’ music has been civilized and categorized into a genre called ‘Americana’, opening up a class of music that welcomes artists that may not have fit into existing radio formats.

Perhaps I’m jaded by having attended two previous years’ events but this wasn’t exciting or electric, it was ‘take your seat and wait for the show to begin’ business.  I missed the 50,000 watts of curiosity and enthusiasm that always radiated from my husband prior to The Really Big Show -but I confess to indulging in a good look around the room to check out the industry notables sitting in pews about the room. Then the lights went down and we were On Air, live from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

The  evening kicked off with a pre-On Air number, ‘Can’t Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover’ as interpreted by Doug Seegers. Any show that kicks off with a Bo Diddley (okay, Willie Dixon) song is getting off on the right foot in MY book.

Doug Seegers accompanied by Ry Cooder

Doug Seegers accompanied by Ry Cooder

The House Band once again was comprised of Americana advocates and banner carriers:  Don Was on upright bass, Buddy Miller on guitar, Jim Lauderdale on guitar, Tim Lauer on piano, the McCrary Sisters on backing vocals, Joachim Cooder and Greg ? on drums and percussion.

The first honor to be awarded, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, was presented by Kasey Musgraves and Angaleena Presley to the great Loretta Lynn, who made her way up the steps at the center of the stage in a beautiful lavender gown.  She accepted the award in her self-deprecating way, making a comment to the affect of, she would like to stick around but she had a gig to get to and needed to get on the bus.  But this great southern lady didn’t leave without gracing the event with one of her famous compositions, ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’.

Loretta Lynn in Nashville

Loretta Lynn in Nashville

Next up, Rodney Crowell was joined by Ry Cooder on his song, ‘God I’m Missing You’ from his most recent CD, Tar Paper Sky

Rodney and Ry

Rodney and Ry

One of this year’s nominees for Best Emerging Artist, Parker Milsap, rocked out on his number, ‘Truck Stop Gospel’, wailing the blues and ably supported by upright bass and a fiddle players, with serious facial hair. Rootsy.

The Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist was presented to Flaco Jimenez.  I have had the privilege of hearing Flaco play in various clubs in Minneapolis over the years and it delighted me to hear Ry Cooder (over several days in multiple events) wax poetic about the musical gifts and contributions of Flaco Jimenez.  Any readers unfamiliar with his work, please You Tube this guy; you will see why he received this award.

Flaco Jimenez and Ry Cooder

Flaco Jimenez and Ry Cooder

The next nominees to play were The Devil Makes Three, followed by Hooray for the Riff Raff, doing ‘The Body Electric’. These two bands are getting a fair amount of air play on my local radio station and provide relief from the disco and arch-sounding EuroRock that dominates drivetime. Check them out; both bands have updated a retro sound and bring whimsy to the stage.

Hooray for the Riff Raff

Hooray for the Riff Raff

The award for Instrumentalist of the Year was presented by Carlene Carter and Vince Gill.  It may feel to the other nominees like they were being ‘home-towned’ when AMA institution Buddy Miller was announced as the winner.  (Buddy Miller, along with Jim Lauderdale are stalwarts of the AMA).

The next performance was from a very intriguing artist that, while she didn’t ultimately win the Best Emerging  Artist award, is adding depth and distinction to the Americana sound – Valerie June.  She doesn’t need the trophy to validate that she belongs on this stage, on the air and in a CD player near you.  Check out the red guitar, yellow dress, and turquoise boots – she and Loretta Lynn just know how to dress.

Valerie June

Valerie June

Robert Ellis, one of Harry Gebibbe’s favorites (we’d seen him several times over the past couple of years) did a smoldering version of his, ‘Only Lies Can Comfort You’ from this year’s CD, Lights from the Chemical Plant.  I admit I wasn’t crazy about his sound on the previous CD but after the performance on Wednesday I’m going to give him another listen.

Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis

One year ago, Mr Gebibbe and I had ringside seats at 3rd & Lindsley, the night Roseann Cash premiered her CD ‘The River and the Thread’ at the 2013 AMA Festival.  The CD wasn’t released until February and I counted the days until I could buy it and re-live that night – my God, what a show she and her outstanding band put on! On Wednesday she performed the opening song from the CD, ‘A Feather’s Not a Bird’, with John Leventhal and Ry Cooder exchanging simmering guitar licks in the bridge, and once again I thought of that show a year ago, sitting with my baby at 3rd & Lindsley.  This was worth the 875 mile drive to get here.

Roseanne Cash

Roseanne Cash

Keb Mo’ presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for performance to Taj Mahal, and following his acceptance speech, Taj and Ry Cooder performed together (years ago they had been in the band, ‘The Rising Sons’).

Mahal and Cooder

Mahal and Cooder

Next up, Patti Griffin and none other than Robert Plant joined up on her number, ‘Ohio’.  The young man sitting two seats down from me made an audible gasp when Mr. Plant emerged on stage – perhaps I did, too.  There was a whole lotta love in the room at that moment.

Griffin and Plant

Griffin and Plant

Here’s where I need to confess some ambivalence the Biggest Winner of the night – I LOVE Jason Isbell.  I loved him from his first two songs on ‘Decoration Day’. I loved seeing him and the 400 Unit swing through Minneapolis about every six months for two and a half years following his departure from the DBTs.  I applauded him and sent him earnest telepathic support when I learned that he ‘got sober’, and felt joy at his union with Amanda Shires.  I listened to ‘Southeastern’ for nearly the first three hours of our drive back from the AMA festival last year.  But  godallmighty, did he have to win Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, and Song of the Year???  Damn, Roseann Cash should have gotten at least one of these awards.  But you can’t argue with the brilliance and sincerity of ‘Southeastern’.  He winning streak this night reminded me of when Paul Simon was giving his acceptance speech for one of his Grammy’s and the first person he thanked was Stevie Wonder, for NOT putting out an album that year…. I hope someone re-uses that line at the AMAs next year.

Isbell and Shires

Isbell and Shires

The gritty, thumping rockers, The Hardworking Americans, did a number from their nominated eponymous album – Todd Snider could have been mistaken for Kid Rock – well, maybe only by me.  He did a ‘Kanye West’-style walk off at the end of the number, which felt like the first Outlaw moment of the night, a ripple in the ‘peaceandlove’ vibe that had filled the room until that point.

Hard Working Americans

Hard Working Americans

Peace and Love returned, along with some ‘good hair’ commentary, when the Milk Carton Kids introduced their pal Sarah Jarosz.  They mentioned the good hair of Rhett Miller, Robert Plant, and the still-not-gray Jackson Browne but failed to recognize Marty Stuart – best hair of the festival in my estimation.  After Ms Jarosz performed her number she returned the favor and introduced the ‘Duo or Group of the Year’ nominees, the Milk Carton Kids, who performed Everly Brothers style, sharing a mic.

Milk Carton Kids

Milk Carton Kids

Along with Valerie June, the other great new artists that I enjoyed hearing for the first (surely not last) time live at the AMA awards was the R&B dynamos, St Paul and the Broken Bones.  These guys are in good company with a number of other new-ish groups, revitalizing the joyful, jet-fueled Memphis R&B sound – if you haven’t already, you MUST hear this band.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Skipping forward (sorry, I’m leaving some acts out) to the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award – JD Souther presented Jackson Browne with the award and then joined him on the song, ‘Fountains of Sorrow’.  I had forgotten how beautiful that song is (I had secretly been pulling for him to do ‘Red Neck Friend’ but when you are receiving and earnest award you really should chose one of your beautiful songs I suppose).

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne

The winner of the Emerging Artist of year was Sturgill Simpson; the award was presented by Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent (Shovels and Rope).  I bought his ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ upon its release in May and listened to it probably a dozen times as I traveled out and back to visit folks in McLeod County one Saturday.  It didn’t stick with me and I haven’t listened to it since.  But his live performance on Wednesday was rockin’ outlaw, better than I expected, and so if I haven’t sold the CD back to The Electric Fetus I will give it a dozen more listens.  His presence on stage was more invigorating than what I got from the recorded music and encourage anyone reading this to see him when he comes to your town.  After all, he’s a Winner.

Sturgll Simpson

Sturgll Simpson

The finale of the show was a rousing hootenanny version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Get Rhythm’.  This made me think of NRBQ, which made me think of my beloved Harry Gebippe. I think he would deemed it, ‘a really great show’.

Americana FinaleRespectfully submitted, Mrs Gebippe.  Photos by Jinx Howell

“Goin’ Down to Nashville, Pickin’ Up the Pen ” – 2014 Americana Music Festival

Friends and followers of ‘‘ know that co-site creator, Harry Gebippe, attended his last rock show on December 28, 2013 and died two days later, succumbing to the ravages of a glioblastoma brain tumor and the side affects of cancer treatment.   Following a respectful mourning period Nanker Phledge kindly reached out to Mrs. Gebippe with the suggestion that it was time to get back to clubs and answer the call of the mojo wire….


Miss Loretta Lynn singing Coal Miner’s Daughter at the Ryman Auditorium


Okay, yes.  I use a pen.  I may be old-fashioned but it gets the job done far better than memory alone.  Call me a dinosaur, I don’t mind.

For the past three years my beloved husband (a/k/a Harry Gebippe) and I ventured down to Memphis and Nashville in September to  take in some music, history, and good times prior to hunkering down for the long Minnesota winter.  I made the commitment to attending the 13th annual Americana Music Festival last February, numb at the time but thinking… God knows what I was thinking, it was just a decision made in a fog, but September came and off I go to Nashville.  Feets and ’09 Outback, don’t fail me now.

The Americana Music Festival and Conference is a well-orchestrated event for fans of the genre to be sure, but also is an industry gathering, with many music business professionals attending to share knowledge and opinions, hear emerging artists, pitch and be pitched to, and network, network, network.  Over the years, the conference has expanded to from a few to numerous venues and has established traditions like the Lone Star Music Magazine’s party at The Groove record store, and Americanarama at Grimey’s record store (now in its seventh year); each of these events is a generous gathering of bands, booze and BBQ.  (solo-artists too). The festival is an opportunity to hear emerging acts (Cactus Blossoms, Lake Street Dive, Israel Nash) and favorites (Robbie Fulks, Rodney Crowell, Josh Ritter) play in intimate venues.  Badged and/or wrist-banded, you may ride the little bus to the Country Music Hall of Fame to hear Masters of The Craft speak about the music business, their journeys and art,  and personal take on components of Americana music.  This year’s featured artists were Marty Stuart, Ry Cooder, and Billy Joe Shaver.  The little buses make it easy to get around to most of the venues – a useful accommodation to be sure. And if the bus doesn’t come, grab a cab with other attendees and off you go.

Marty Stuart speaking and performing at the Country Music Hall of Fame on the topic of his Mississippi roots and the music that influenced his career.

Marty Stuart speaking and performing at the Country Music Hall of Fame on the topic of his Mississippi roots and the music that influenced his career.

That’s my plug for the conference and festival.  Next Post: the Americana Music Awards Show.

” Youngblood On the Tracks ” – Blues Under the Bridge 2014

Festival takes- Blues Under the Bridge 2014, Colorado Springs, CO 7/19/14

Alvin Youngblood Hart

Alvin Youngblood Hart rocks the Blues Under the Bridge fest in Colorado Springs 7/19/14

We return to the coolest spot on a hot summer day in Colorado Springs– the flatbed stage under the Colorado Avenue bridge next to the railroad tracks….

The first time I ever saw Neil Young, he was dressed in buckskin head to toe fronting Buffalo Springfield on American Bandstand, lip-synching ” Mr. Soul ” to a bewildered Dick Clark and at least one transfixed kid in South Jersey. So it didn’t take any of the Colorado  brownies that drummer Rick Shelton was calling for to have me flashing back to Shakey on AB as Memphis blues/rock stalwart Alvin Youngblood Hart cranked out ” Mr. Soul ” on the heels of Neil’s (as Alvin said, ” our favorite Canadian…Gordon Lightfoot!”)   ” White Line “, near the end of a hard rocking set in America’s Most Evangelical City. Reaching back to R.L. Burnside and Fred McDowell with his own, ” Big Mama’s Door “, over to Doug Sahm with ” I’m Just A Country Boy “, back to his zany ” I’m Watching Brian Jones ” ( ” I was at my house watching this documentary called ” Stoned ” about Brian Jones, and I wrote this..” ), and even to ” the King…Otis Redding “, Alvin and his Muscle Theory Band covered broad blues/rock territory to blistering effect. Slowing down only for ” our death song “, the swirling slide blues of ” In My Time of Dyin’ “, one of several festival tributes to the recently passed Johnny Winter, Hart played and sang with conviction, displaying strong voice and surprising rockstar guitar chops for a guy known as a blues artist.


He ain’t gonna stop ’til he come up on Big Mama’s Door!

Hart’s set was masterful, but he had a tough act to follow. The wildest crowd response of the day was for Aussie singer/guitarist Kara Grainger, whose powerful vocals, tasty guitar licks, and well-crafted original tunes had the crowd on its feet, insisting that the band keep playing despite the repeated announcements of the tight fest schedule. The affable Kara seemed stunned by the overwhelming response, and gladly obliged with an encore.


Smile, Kara, you’re killing ’em out there!

After a rousing version of Mose Allison’s  ” Your Mind Is On Vacation ” , Kara noted, ” that oughta be my theme song! ” She even tackled Etta James’ torchy slow burner, ” I Would Rather Go Blind “, a challenge for any singer. As John Mayall said, ” the slow blues are the hardest; you can hear every mistake “.

It ain’t easy being the only girl in the lineup, and like Samantha Fish and Ana Popovic, surely Kara has to overcome the ” yeah, she’s hot, but can she play? ” stigma in a genre whose fan demographic is increasingly aging and male. Her songwriting may set her apart  should her singing and playing be taken for granted. You go, Kara!


Harpist/Vocalist Dustin Arbuckle and Guitarist Aaron Moreland

The Wichita, Kansas-based Moreland and Arbuckle play what Moreland once described as ” electrified Mississippi blues with a sludgy, jam-oriented rock thing “. The highlight of their set was Arbuckle’s virtuoso wailing on Little Walter Jacobs’ signature tune ” Juke “. The guys laughed off several trains passing close behind the stage, and consistently had the crowd up dancing to their rolling roots sound.


Austin Young opens the fest with a blast!

The self-taught teen prodigy Austin Young has been onstage since age 12, and the Colorado native is well known to Pikes Peak Region blues fans and Under the Bridge attendees. Heavily influenced by traditional bluesmen like Robert Johnson and inspired by Henrix, Clapton, and Stevie Ray, the young Austin is technically proficient and a polished performer. His own Johnny Winter tribute, Clapton’s Cream classic ” Outside Woman Blues ” , showcased his substantial chops and enthusiastic stage presence. Catch this guy while he’s still playing small venues!

Many thanks to the Pikes Peak blues community for another outstanding lineup and smoothly run festival; our apologies for skipping headliner Sugaray Rayford’s set:

” Well, you know that you’re over the hill, when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill..” – Paul and G. P. Barrere; Little Feat- ” Old Folks Boogie ”

— your faithful mountain correspondent, Nanker Phledge

“electrified Mississippi blues mixed with a sludgy, jam-oriented rock thing.” T – See more at:
“electrified Mississippi blues mixed with a sludgy, jam-oriented rock thing.” T – See more at:

” Light Up ! ” Steve Winwood- Paramount Theater, Denver, CO 6/22/14

Concert Review- Steve Winwood at the Paramount Theater 6/22/14


The first Traffic era: (l-r) Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, Winwood, Dave Mason

Way back in 1969, ” when dinosaurs still roamed the earth “, as Patterson Hood says, a young Steve Winwood was turned loose from Traffic ( above ) and the cult following generated by  ” Dear Mr. Fantasy “, ” Colored Rain “, and ” Forty Thousand Headmen “, by the departure of Dave Mason, who went on to make one great record, ” Alone Together “, followed by a bunch of soft pop/rocks like ” We Just Disagree “. Winwood, however, was pulled into Rock’s first supergroup, Blind Faith, with two superstars from Cream, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. The band recorded one eponymous LP ( those vinyl things now making a righteous comeback ) and did one tour of the U.K. and the U.S. before imploding.

Blind Faith poster

Not many can say they saw this band; the ” First Tour ” was also their last. A young Nanker Phledge’s first Rock Show at the Spectrum in Philly, July 1969. Now that’s concert cred for ya!

Clapton went on to tour briefly with Delaney and Bonnie before joining his soul mate, Duane ” Skydog ” Allman, in the equally short-lived Derek and the Dominoes ( the namesake of current world-class guitarist Derek Trucks ) and recording arguably Clapton’s best work, ” Layla “. Winwood began work on a solo LP but soon called in his Traffic cohorts Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, and the solo project became another Traffic LP, the classic ” John Barleycorn Must Die “, and a string of later LPs including his critically acclaimed and still-popular ” Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys “. Winwood’s R and B cred from his early days as a teenage prodigy improbably fronting the Spencer Davis Group ( and credibly singing ” I’m A Man ” at 17 years old!), coupled with his hippie/psychedelia props from Traffic, made him an in-demand session player, culminating perhaps in his appearance on ” Voodoo Child ” on Hendrix’ seminal ” Electric Ladyland ” .

Winwood and friends

Blues/Rock royalty late 60s– (l-r) Carl Wayne ( The Move), Winwood, Hendrix, John Mayall, and Eric Burdon.

Winwood went on to make several acclaimed solo records in the 80s and 90s, and has toured with many notables, including Clapton, Santana, and this fall, Tom Petty. So when he rolled with it into Denver ‘s lovely Paramount Theater, it was with one of the largest and most loved catalogs of jazz-influenced blues/rock songs of any living artist, spanning  from Spencer Davis in 1963 to the present. But there would be very little current or even recent tunes on this tour, no ” Valerie “, no ” Back In the High Life “, no ” Finer Things “, no ” Roll With It “. The most recent song was 1986’s  ” Higher Love ” .  Did any of the aging Anglo  Boomers in the house care? Nope!

Starting his set with a slow build around ” Rainmaker “, Winwood immediately went deep with ” I’m A Man”,  before moving from the Hammond to guitar for a lovely version of Blind Faith’s ” Can’t Find My Way Home “, then into the first Traffic era with ” Medicated Goo “. While initially considered primarily a keyboardist, Winwood has always been a fine guitarist, and his solos on these tunes, as well as later on ” Dear Mr. Fantasy “, showed that his stringed chops are intact. He slipped in a well-chosen cover of Buddy Miles’           ” Them Changes “, first heard by many on Hendrix’ ” Band of Gypsies “, that could easily have fit into the R and B-laced Spencer Davis catalog.

The highlight of the set was a terrific version of ” Low Spark “, that segued into ” Empty Pages” from ” John Barleycorn “. Winwood was in strong voice for his age ( smile when you say that, whippersnapper! ), and displayed his well-known tasteful touch on the keys to the delight of the crowd, many of whom sang along to even his earliest material. An extended version of Jim Capaldi’s ” Light Up Or Leave Me Alone ” followed, with a jammy chorus of ” Light Up, Light Up ” a seeming siren song to the no doubt many Coloradans who would be doing exactly that once they left the building. The encore was a great ” Dear Mr. Fantasy “, probably the first Traffic song heard by most in the house, followed by the obligatory ” Gimme Some Lovin’ “, which in turn was likely the first Winwood vocal any had heard. Aching joints and aged muscles creaked everywhere as the crowd rose to roar its approval.

Looking around the house as the lights came up, there was nary a ticketholder born in the 60s or later. I saw a grand total of two African-Americans the entire evening. It is troubling to think that Winwood’s demographic is that limited, or that Boomers are the only ones with sufficient disposable income to shell out $90 to hear a guy play tunes he released 40 years ago. I’d like to think that Winwood is still writing new material and challenging himself as an artist, and more than that, I’d like to hear him play the new stuff for his fans instead of obliging their understandable desire to relive the halcyon days of rock. Yes, he updated the classics with some slightly altered arrangements, but it was clearly a night of ” give ’em what they wanna hear ” rather than ” I’m still kickin’; listen to this! ” A great show, no doubt, but no new memories created in the Mile High City that night.

Winwood tix

Many thanks to our roving correspondent Nanker Phledge for getting a ride from the Alzheimers Unit to attend the show!