Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Semi- Live Blogging: On the Road w/ Mississippi Heat

The final stop on the tour was Allentown, PA, headlining the Mayfair Festival of the Arts.

And, yes, Allentown is also the name of a Billy Joel song.

The Heat rolled into town Sunday afternoon, after enjoying a welcome day off, ready for the 90 minutes of face-melting.

We only had to do 60 minutes, though, so that was a bonus (less work for the same bread- the American way.) Apparently, the schedulers didn't take into account the time it takes to change over the stage from one group to the next. I gotta say, for a festival of that size (it was big, believe me) it was very poorly organized.

Since everyone working there was a volunteer, I guess the old saying "you get what you pay for" rang very true. It seemed that all of the workers really didn't know what was going on, where the various stages were, or who was in charge of what.

Even the cops directing traffic were clueless (big surprise there.)

Despite the minimal organizational short-comings, the set was awesome. It was really nice to have the big stage that I like so much. The clubs are fun, don't get me wrong, with the intimacy and all. But the festival stages are the best. I get my own monitor mix (more kick, please,) everything has a big sound, big lighting, and smoke machines are the norm.

Gotta love the smoke machines.

The show started with an uptempo, instrumental shuffle. Pierre took the head of the tune, blowing his harp (that's a harmonica for those of you who don't know) loud and proud. Carl was on, as always, tearing into his Gibson with reckless abandon, and bass-man Steve Howard was holding the pocket like a new pair of Levi's.

We played two up front before we called up (relatively new) vocalist, Rhonda Preston. She's a small woman with a big voice. She's probably not 100 lbs. wet. But she's strong. We brought her up on Dirty Deal, the first track off the Glad You're Mine CD. It's a swinging shuffle with a nice hook, and an interesting ending (a sus chord, for all the music geeks out there.) We followed with the rockin' Handyman (RIP George Baze) before slowing it down a little bit with some "down in the alley" blues. The set finished with the boogie fan-favorite Johnny Boy to raucous applause and a standing ovation (no encore, no time allotted.)

All in all, a great show, and a fitting end to a fun tour. Despite life in the van (we drove home through the night directly after the gig,) this was a fun group to spend the weekend with. And believe me, the most important thing to have in a touring band is good vibes between the members. Everyone out on the road can play, make no mistake. But can they all get along?

Hopefully they'll call again. I'm into it.

So it goes...

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