Sunday, June 14, 2009

On the Road w/ Lonnie Brooks

The seemingly never ending Lonnie Brooks tour has taken us back to the glorious European "destinacion" of Spain. The first show was a festival in the northern town of Getxo.

One of my faves.

Sadly, Koko Taylor was supposed to be on the bill (also one of my all time faves.) We really missed her.

Luckily, the powers that be were able to put together an exceptional fill-in bill. I say fill-in because you can't replace the Queen.

In her royal absence, it took three people to fill her spot: E.C. Scott, a powerful West-Coast singer, along with the incomprable Henry Butler on piano, and Kenny Neal playing guitar, harp, and singing. Both of those guys are from down in Louisiana, New Orleans and Baton Rouge respectively.

Of course the Blues Machine was still the backing band, with Shun Kikuta and Mike Wheeler on guitars, "Pooky Styx" on drums, and the rock-solid Melvin Smith holding down the bass chair. I gotta say, these fellas really rose to the occasion for the show. They were clearly down and perhaps a bit lost because their blues mama was not there.

Shun and Melvin, especially. They were with her for what seems like ages.

We had to miss her funeral because of the tour, something that we weren't exactly happy about. But, somehow, we all knew (and know) that she would have it no other way.

That being said, the festival was extraordinary. It was 2 nights, with Brooks and Co. headlining the first, and the Blues Machine on the second. Both nights were packed and rowdy (5000 strong per night, and Getxo is a small town, really) and ready for some great music that is so very well appreciated in the Old World (the U.S. could really stand to take a page out of that handbook- Europeans really love live, American music).

Particularly the blues.

Lonnie killed 'em the first night. The show was a marathon, nearly 3 hours ("I've got blisters on my fingers"- J.Lennon.) He put that voodoo spell on the people like always, his Gibson screaming and his voice in fine form. We even pulled out a few tunes that hadn't been played in quite a while, Voodoo Daddy in particular. Kenny joined us onstage for the last few tunes, "All My Money Back", "Inflation", and the crowd pleasing "Something You Got."

The last few tunes lasted about an hour past our scheduled time. So it goes when you're playing an audience for the Queen.

("What are you guys, the Grateful Dead or something?")

The second night was more of the same. Koko's band came out and played 3 cuts before E.C took the stage to sing a few. Henry was next to front the band, followed by Kenny.

Rockin' good time. People were freaking out, erupting in a wash of sound that could only be described as thunderous.

Then came the goods. The band started "Wang Dang Doodle", Koko's signature cut (read: bread and butter.) E.C and Henry came back out to join in on the action. So did Lonnie. So did the rest of the Brooks crew, yours truly included. We were all onstage singing and playing together. The crowd was in the palm of our hands and was not going anywhere. We got the whole place singing the chorus, almost like a mantra:

"All night long, all night long. We gonna pinch a Wang Dang Doodle all night long."

Every great gig comes to an end eventually. Sometimes mercifully. Sometimes happily.

Sometimes you don't want it to stop.

"All night long."

Luckily, we've got another stop. Benidorm, in the southern part of the country, is the next show. We'll do it all again, one more time, knowing that it could be the last time we all do something like this together as one voice.

All for the queen.

So it goes...

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