As The Summer Blows By
As this week rolls out there is a full court press on to get Points North with guest Albert Lee in the can for Sunday and we’re back to pre-recording Dead Ends and Detours as I plan on hitting the road Thursday afternoon with the destination being the Calgary Folk Festival.
As much as I am looking forward to hanging out on Prince’s Island Park for a few days – it is one of the most inviting festival sites in the land – I am curious about the “Cars and Guitars” Race Week Festival that I will be missing in Edmonton.
There have been numerous musical events stapled to the Indy race since Edmonton became a pit stop on the circuit a few years ago. But unless I missed something, most of the line-ups had been the usual assortment of Canadian classic rock bands working alongside local cover bands.
Yet an interesting decision was made this year in regards to presenting music around the event, and hopefully “Cars and Guitars” will resonate with Edmontonians during Indy Week (July 20 to 23).
Organizers have rounded up a group of heavyweight pickers, some who are also superb vocalists and stylists, and this collective of rockabilly, swing, blues basted, raucous roots rock ‘n roll artists, could provide some of the more memorable performances of the summer in the heart of Edmonton.
The thrust and theme of the event harkens back to the days of hot rods, drive-in movies, roller rinks, pool halls, drag races, soda fountains, and Speedway Park, but I repeat, this is the kind of a cast that would have been given a big “thumbs up” from the late master of the Telecaster, Danny Gatton.
By the time the four days of twang and tremolo come to a close Lee Rocker, the onetime singer/bassist of The Stray Cats, Los Fabulocos with guitar great Kid Ramos, Hillbilly Casino, Los Straitjackets, Cousin Harley featuring Paul Pigat, Brent Parkin, The Raygun Cowboys, Eve Hell & the Razors, and Clayton Bellamy, will have hopefully turned Rice Howard Way into a rip roarin’ rockabilly village.Los Straitjackets
Most of these artists come to town with reputations built around serious chops but entertaining audiences is a hot side order with acts like Los Fabulocos, Rocker, and Los Straitjackets. There’s even Burlesque-A-Pades, starring Angie Pontani, being presented at the Roxy from July 21 to 24.
Organizers are also presenting music at the Yellowhead Brewery (105 street and 102 ave) on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, as most of the acts are turning in three or four performances during Race Week.
My only fear? Does anyone know that this component of the Indy event is happening? I hope so. If this is the first you’ve heard about Race Week Music Festival head to raceweek.ca
, single out a couple of shows; if you’re a guy slick back your hair, if you’re a gal find some bobby socks, everyone put on your dancin’ shoes and take it from there.
Longtime fans of the Doobie Brothers were certainly aware that two of the players who founded the Doobies 41 years ago were in the province last week with the latest line-up of the Brothers. This is a group that has sold over 30 million albums during what has always been an interesting, but not necessarily consistent or satisfying history.
Pat Simmons has been through all the great times the Doobie Brothers have experienced and he’s also weathered the chapters where many pundits suggested the group should call it a day.Pat Simmons
The guitar-playing songwriter and vocalist, and fellow founding member Tom Johnson, who has been back in the fold for a number of years, lead a pretty impressive crew of musicians capable of dipping back into any era of the Doobie discography with the desired authority. Not bad when one considers Michael McDonald only makes cameo and guest appearances with the band, both in the studio and on stage, these days.
John McFee, who officially joined the Doobies for a three-year run in 1979, is back as one of the aces in the band. He is a multi-instrumentalist of considerable skill, has contributed to the Doobie songbook, and adds muscle to gang vocals.
That Simmons brought one-time Newgrass Revival bassist and vocalist John Cowan into the fold doesn’t need to be analyzed but rather applauded. Cowan continues to be as soulful a singer as ever and he and Simmons can replicate some of McDonald’s Doobie repertoire faithfully over the course of a 90 minute set.
I decided at the last minute to see if I could hunt down a ticket to the Edmonton show as the date was close to selling out. After settling in on the second balcony of the Jube, the octet strolled out on stage and rolled through hits plus new tunes from the latest World Gone Crazy recording with fairly even and impressive results, even if the soundman didn’t always have a handle on the volume.
An early serving of Jesus Is Just Alright was spot on and just one of many songs that showcased superb gang vocals from the front four. McFee’s haunting fiddle intro to Black Water was deadly and all three guitarists delivered inspired solos that were distinctively different in tone and feel for the duration of the show.
As mentioned, Simmons and Cowan split the vocals on Takin’ It To The Streets as saxophonist Marc Russo laid down some warm and earthy solos that echoed those heard on the album of the same name. For my money the Takin’ It To The Streets album is still one of those rare perfectly cut gems of the seventies, and it is certainly the pinnacle of the Doobies recorded output.
That the band was confident enough to roll four songs from the recently released World Gone Crazy near the top of the set list was another indication that the onetime hit makers are back to being a tightly knit team. Good on ‘em!
That the Ottawa Blues Festival narrowly averted disaster Sunday night when the main stage collapsed under gale force winds was a blessing for everyone involved.
I’m sure many of you caught the mayor of Ottawa less than a day later on any number of news outlets suggesting that an inquiry may be in order to determine just what happened leading up to the dismantling of the festival main stage by Mother Nature.
On a less serious note, maybe his worship should order an inquiry into how and why organizers insist on calling the longtime event “a blues festival”.
If 15 percent of the artists booked are blues or blues related I’d be surprised.
Those hard core blues boys Cheap Trick were on stage just before the lighting rigs plummeted to the stage and over the course of the weekend audiences at the Ottawa Blues Fest had snapped up tix to see the likes of Joe Satriana and Jane’s Addiction.
Toss in Bedouin Soundclash, Blue Rodeo and Billy Talent and that’s just a few of the acts under the letter “B” that are working a supposed blues fest. Why not just call the event what it is, that being a music festival?
By the way, it sounds like hardcore blues fans were treated to some fine performances from Buddy Guy, Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones and Rosie Ledet.