Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Silver City Blues Festival 2012

It's time to bust out your best fedora or Tilley hat and make plans to be in Silver City for the 2012 Silver City Blues Festival on Memorial Day weekend. This event has always been an exemplary exhibition of contemporary blues music. However, this year's roster of musicians seems a bit underwhelming. There is a wealth of talent lined up, just not as much as one would hope to see.

The Silver City Blues Festival, like The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has taken on a life of its own. People will attend, simply because it's something to do and a good enough reason to knock back a few. The few available hotel/motel rooms available can be had for a poor man's ransom ($150 a night at the Econo Lodge?) Don't let it be said that Silver City can't gouge with the best of them.

The festivities start on Thursday night with the traditional dance party, which takes place in the parking lot of the Morning Star on Bullard Street. The honor of opening the festival this year, goes to Wally Lawder. Under most normal circumstances, coyotes would get left behind in The Rapture. However, Wally Lawder's Raptured Coyotes will make the trip to heaven (along with some of us)

Lawder, has the now common back story of modern wandering minstrels. Born in Kansas, raised in Connecticut, lived in New Jersey, moved to Silver City, affected a southwestern lifestyle and there you have it. Lawder recently relocated from Silver City to Tucson. Although, when the hat gets passed around he will come back and play. 

Wally & The Coyotes are performing at the Thursday night kick-off street dance. Upon further examination this would seem to be a strange choice. Wally Lawder doesn't exactly play dance music. His style lends itself more towards pensive reminiscing than foot stomping. But, in Silver City that's not a problem. Lube 'em up enough and they'll dance to anything.

 Things really get underway on Friday, a bike show, a DJ, Brandon Perrault, and the capper, Pat "Guitar Slim" Chase hosting what is sure to be a drunken high spirited affair at The Buffalo Bar. Brandon Perrault is a Silver City native who's been kicking around Grant County playing Tex-Mex & Country. He's a likeable sort, who's infectious enthusiasm far exceeds his musical talent.

Brandon has been known to set up a table at Walmart to try and sell a few cd's. Strained vocals and clunky beats be damned, it's paid off well for him. He's a man of the people, Grant County's Al Hurricane (without the eye patch) Brandon will literally hit the street at 6 p.m., on Bullard between Market and Broadway (I hope they remember to block off Bullard on both ends this time)

Bluesman, Pat "Guitar Slim" Chase will close out Friday's events with his electrifying brand of Chicago blues. A native of San Jose, Ca., Pat Chase now resides in New Mexico, and plays at a variety of venues across Southern New Mexico and El Paso. He's appeared at the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, the Fresno Blues Festival, San Francisco Blues Festival, and many others.

On Saturday the proceedings return to their customary setting at Gough Park. The Muddy Hands Blues Band from Las Cruces gets things underway at noon. Silver City's own Kas Nelson Trio featuring Sunny James will follow at 1:45. Big Daddy D and the Dynamites, the funk soul brothers hit the stage at 3:15. This five man band from Prescott, Az. plays an infectious brand of r & b.

Led by Darryl Porras on vocals, Big Daddy D and the Dynamites, specializes in "upbeat high energy music that picks you up and then takes you down... home" BDDD's roots go back to the early 1990's when the were the rhythm section for Freddie (Li'l Junior) Cisneros and The Leisure Kings. The band has been together since 1998 and they are tight and right.

When Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch take the stage, they will raise the level and quality of the music up a notch. Based in Dallas, Tx. Elmore plays Texas blues in the style of Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray and Freddie King,  he's the real deal. Jason Elmore plays a mean electric guitar, but his skill at picking acoustic delta blues guitar has them raving in The Lone Star state.

Trampled Under Foot headlines on Saturday. This unique trio consists of the three Schnebelen siblings, Danielle-vocals & bass, Kris- drums, Nick- Guitar (both Nick & Danielle play left handed)  Their newest album "Wrong Side of the Blues" features an appearance  by a musician, some in Southwestern New Mexico may recall, Johnny Lee Schell formerly of the rock band, Baby.

Trampled Under Foot calls Kansas City, Mo. home, so they're as steeped in blues tradition as anybody out there. The Schnebelens are a K.C. musical dynasty, their father Robert (who passed away in 1999)  fronted a band , Little Eva & The Works that also included their mother, Lisa Swedlund. Danielle likes to say that "We were listening to Muddy Waters from the womb"

By custom, Saturday's musical reverie will climax with a jam session featuring all the day's performer's at The Buffalo Dance Hall.  I'll take a moment to say that The Silver City Blues Festival is organized by The Mimbres Region Arts Council. Dirt City Chronicles has no connection with said organization and is neither endorsed nor approved by anyone connected to the festival.

The final day (Sunday) starts out with The Greenwood Misses, a trio of women from Silver City who play the blues, Delta style. They're followed by Country Blues Revue from Santa Fe,  a band that revolves around the talents of Michael Handler and Marc Malin. (I reviewed their eponymous album back in October of 2011)  http://dirtcitychronicles.blogspot.com/2011/10/graphic.html

 "She is a force of nature" is how the Rocky Mountain News describes Hazel Miller's voice.  A natural born blues, jazz & gospel singer, originally from Louisville,Ky.  Hazel now makes her home in Denver. In fact she is such a fixture in the Mile High city, that she was singled out as one of the 150 people who make Denver a better place to live.

Festival headliner, Rosie Ledet from Iota, Louisiana  plays zydeco accordion and sings like nobody's business. The Zydeco Sweetheart is famous in the genre for her sultry and suggestive lyrics, which includes an ode to "the little blue pill" and an invitation to come "play with my poodle" and of course her concert favorite "Eat My Poussiere"

Ledet has rebounded from a 2009 incident in which she was questioned by police about the death of a newborn baby. Ledet is alleged to have miscarried a nearly full term baby, who's body she then wrapped in a blanket and hid in a storage shed. The following day the band went on tour and upon returning to Allen Parish, Ms. Ledet admitted to a band mate what had happened.

As Joe Friday would say "Just the facts ma'am" Ultimately no charges were filed against Rosie Ledet and she was able to resume her musical career. None of this changes my opinion or expectations of the lady. Rosie and the Zydeco Playboys will close out the Silver City Blues Festival in high fashion and it's safe to say that nobody will leave without being satisfied.