Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On Tour With Lonnie Brooks- Spain, pt. 2

The best show of the 2009 (spring) Spanish tour was the Terrassa Jazz Festival. Hands down.

The Voodoo Daddy delivered like I've never seen him do before. I'm not kidding. I've been doing this gig for 8 years now (holy crap) and this was the best.



First off, this particular festival is one of the biggest and most important European music festivals. The town of Terrassa is essentially a suburb of Barcelona, about half an hour by train (the trains in Spain are incredibly efficient). Terrassa Jazz is in it's 28th year. It started off as a very small event: one venue, one or two bands, and that's that. At this point, the festival lasts an entire month. There are performances Thursday through Sunday, with several venues hosting various events, some free, some not.

And the people come out in droves.

Our performance was in Cava Jazz (the Jazz Cave), a fantastic nightclub in the heart of Terrassa and the cornerstone venue of the festival. The club has everything that you would expect from an old jazz club. There are pictures and posters and record jackets of all the old time greats. People like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Billie Holliday, and Herbie Hancock (another Chicagoan). It's very dark and and smoky (smoky bars have such a good vibe), the sound system is top notch, and capacity is about 400.

It was a full house.

Packed and enthusiastic for some Chicago blues.

We were slotted to do two (2) 45 min. sets with a 15 minute break in between. Honestly, that's a bit unusual. Normally, it's a 90 min. "hit it and quit it": you get up there on stage, you do the show, you're done. Maybe you do an encore.

The first set was on fire. The band only did one song before bringing up Brooks. Normally it's 2 or even 3 sometimes. So we open with Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign, and do our thing. Of course, it's hot and tight and right, and the vibe onstage is that we're gonna have a good show. Then we bring up Lonnie with the classic Don't Answer the Door. He had an intensity like never before. That first note rang out of his guitar like an explosion and off we went. His singing was strong (he's very underrated as a singer) and his playing was flawless.

Fingers and the brain in sync.

The set seemed to end in a flash. We took a break and then came back up. One song up front, like last set (an Elmore James shuffle), and then Lonnie came up with Don't Take Advantage of Me, a staple song. Again, the first note took control of the band, and we were back at it. The set was rock solid and the people were going nuts. We did a slow one, Cold Lonely Nights, about midway through, to the approval of everyone in the room. Brooks brought it way down at one point. It was so low that you could hear the ice clinking in glasses. Most Europeans don't even have ice in their drinks.


The show ended with Shake it Little Mama, a Chuck Berry-type rocker. He hasn't pulled that out since I don't know when. Usually, at the end of the night, Brooks will want to sit down and play some of the old "in the alley", gut bucket blues. Things like Hoochie Coochie Man, Stormy Monday, etc. The real deal. But when Bret Dale (stage tech) brought out a new guitar and asked the boss if he wanted a chair, he just smiled at him and said, "I want to rock these mutha****." And then he just started the song.


We played that sucker for a good 15 minutes. Nothing but pure energy. The set ran long, the people were freaking out, and we were off the stage. A few minutes later we had to go back up. Nobody was leaving, nobody was quiet. So Brooks kicks off Sweet Home Chicago. We give it to 'em for about 10, solid, minutes, shuffling better than a Thorazine junkie.

Hit it and quit it.

These are the kind of shows that we, as players, all live for. That rare and special moment when everything is EXACTLY the way it should be, on the same page, among all the musicians on stage.

I'm a lucky mutha****.

So it goes...

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