Monday, July 28, 2008

Harmonica Houseparty!

(photo L-R: Jeremy Kidder, Tim Gonzalez, Magic Dick, Lee Oskar, courtesy of Shoji Onozawa)

As a celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Lee Oskar Harmonicas, and in conjunction with Lee's monthly residency at the club, we threw The Harmonica Houseparty which featured an all-star cast of harp players including (of course) Lee Oskar, Magic Dick, Tim Gonzalez, and Jay Maybin. Our friend and esteemed harp player & author Kim Field also sat in. They were all backed by a house band of Andrew Cloutier (drums), Eric Bryson (bass), Jeremy Kidder (guitar), Scotty Harris (sax), and Telvis Ward from the Lowrider Band (keys). What a show. What a night. Thanks to Lee for getting such great harp players on the bill, especially Magic Dick, of whom we've been a fan since our earliest memories as kids growing up in Boston, worshipping the mighty J. Geils Band. Magic was in town for a few days and we enjoyed our time with him very much. He is as nice a guy as he is a tremendous musician and we only hope to have him back at Highway 99 anytime he's up for it. Tim Gonzalez, still in town on Sunday, showed up to sit in with the band on the Sunday Blues BBQ jam, while Lee and Magic came down for some dinner and to cheer him on. Later, the three harp surgeons ended up taking some harmonicas apart to share some reed grading and alteration tricks of the trade. If Friday was the Harmonica Houseparty, Sunday was definitely the Harmonica Geek-Out.
Below: Magic Dick playing his signature song, "Whammer Jammer"

Also this past weekend, the Robbie Laws Bigger Blues Band played on Saturday night, and Lloyd Meadows of the Zydeco Flames came up from Oakland to stir some s**t up with his squeeze box. Earlier in the week, the Johny Broomdust Trio returned on Wednesday, and Brian Nova's Felonius Funk Orchestra played on Thursday.
Below: Steve Sarkowsky (drums), Robbie Laws (guitar)

Below: a clip from the Harmonica Houseparty grand finale jam

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bobby Rush

Here it is, the maiden voyage of Hit the Highway, the online blog for Highway 99 Blues Club. We'll try to update this every week or so with photos and notes of what's been happening down at the club. The photos in this inaugural entry into the blogosphere are all courtesy of Jef Jaisun, a great blues shooter, friend and regular of the club, 2007 winner of the Blues Foundation's Keeping the Blues Alive award.

On July 20, we had the honor of hosting two shows with one of the great all-time rhythm & blues legends, Grammy nominee and multiple Blues Music Award winner, Bobby Rush. You may recognize the fellow on stage with Bobby in the top two photos - that's our friend Lee Oskar, who plays the club on the last Friday of each month.

The fourth photo is Bobby gittin' down with the Big Booty Dancers. The shows were tremendous. Bobby is as charming and engaging a performer as a B.B. King, as captivating and sweaty as a James Brown. Everyone in the room, audience and club staff alike, were eating out of his hands at every moment. The music ranged from funk, rap, and r&b, to straight ahead Chicago-style blues. The content was at times racy and R-rated, but in a classy way that probably wouldn't offend anyone from Mrs. Rush to the Man Upstairs. He worked the crowd like a dignified gentleman hosting a dinner party. In fact, at the end of the late show, he walked off the stage and into the audience, where he shook hands and said Hello to everyone in the room before saying Goodnight and hitting the showers.