Since there's not much interest in a Cricket's blog area, I'll just post my ramblings in here. I should be working on my software but I'm getting a little burned out from working so much, so I thought I'd write about something I did yesterday.
We had been invited to a party at Sue's friend's house, scheduled for last night. Actually, it was at her old boyfriend's house and another one of her ex-boyfriends was going to be there, also, along with their wives. She remains friends with her old boyfriends. I've never been able to stay friends with ex-girlfriends. Not that I've ever tried. I mean, if we liked each other enough to remain friends, we wouldn't have broken up in the first place. But she's a little different. She likes everyone. Me... I try to avoid most people. We had gone to one of their parties a few months ago and it was one of the most excruciating evenings I've ever spent. The things these people talk about. These are the wine and cheese people... the anti-Elvises. I steered the conversation towards things I was interested in a few times, but it always went back to opera, or plays, or classical music, or shopping... Even Sue started to annoy me a few times. I guess she was part of the wine and cheese crowd before she met me.
So Sue got the invitation to the party with the wine and cheese people and asked me if I wanted to go. "Ummm... no!", I told her. "I'm planning on sticking a fork in my eye that night so I won't be availible!" I told her I'd take her out for dinner if she didn't make me go. She agreed that her friends were annoying and that we had a deal. She does have some friends who are cool, but her ex-boyfriends definitely are not.
Once in a while I like to see what's going on around town, even though I don't like leaving the house. Sometimes there's some good music. I looked on digitalcity.com yesterday and saw that there was going to be a blues concert in the park featuring Sammy Mayfield. I'd been wanting to see him for quite a while, but that would have required leaving the house and possibly talking to strangers. But this was an free outdoor concert at City Park. I'd never actually heard Sammy's music before, but I read a review once. It said his music was pure Chicago blues. So that was good enough for me to go check it out. Sammy Mayfield is the brother of Curtis 'Superfly' Mayfield. I was curious if Sammy would do any of Curtis' songs. The concert was at City Park, which is the best park in the Denver area. There are other nice parks around Denver, but they're overrun with yuppies. City park is in kind of a bad neighborhood so a lot of yuppies don't like to go there.
We arrive at the park at about five minutes to 6:00 and hear the announcer giving the pre-concert spiel, asking for money to support the concert series. I'm carrying the lawn chairs and the fold up table for our wine and cheese (just kidding). Actually, we had picked up some Kentucky Fried Chicken. They were having a special: 25% off angioplasties with every bucket.
We find a good spot on the lawn and set up our chairs just as Sammy walks on stage. I'm excited. This looks like the real deal. We don't get much authentic blues here in Denver. Sammy calls out, "a-one, two, one two three four..." and starts the band into a fast groove to get warmed up. The trumpet player plays a solo reminiscent of Mile Davis' playing on "Kind of Blue". Then the sax player takes his turn, then the violin player... or is it a fiddle in a blues band? Not your traditional blues instrument, but it sounded cool. A violin player with grit. Then Sammy plays a solo on what looked like a Gibson 300 series. BB King plays a 300 series Gibson... a semi-hollow body arch-top. Freddy King played one, also. It's a great guitar for blues because its tone has a bite you just can't get from a solid body.
The band is tight and the sound man gets the sound just right after a few minutes. People are dancing and stomping their feet. That's the sign of a good blues band. If you can't help but stomp your feet, they're good. There are some 30 people dancing in front of the band stand. It's a diverse crowd. It's good to see black people enjoying the blues. I read where blacks try to distance themselves from blues because they see it as a poor-man's music. Whenever I see anything celebrating their contributions, they never say anything about blues. I love the blues. Most of my CDs are blues, mainly by black musicians. To me, the blues is one of the greatest contributions to American society, ever. But usually it's a white audience at the blues concerts and festivals. This one was different. It was about 25% black and they were boogieing.
Sammy puts a slide on his finger and breaks into the opening licks to Elmore James' "Dust My Broom". Actually, it's a Robert Johnson song, but the style is more Elmore James version since they didn't have electric blues in Robert Johnson's day. From "Dust My Broom", they go right into "Look Over Yonders Wall", a Paul Butterfield song from the sixties -- one of the few authentic white blues bands. I can't help but smile. People around us are clapping and stomping their feet to the music. You can't help but enjoy yourself at a good blues show. I don't dance much, but of the times that I have danced, mostly it's been to the blues. I'm listening to Sammy's guitar playing. He's good. I'm trying to detect the influence of other guitar players, but I can't. He's an original.
The band plays another Robert Johnson song, "Sweet Home Chicago", then the announcer comes out and asks how we like the music. I'm thinking they're about to take a break but he's introducing someone... "Mr. Mmmmdrrrrrbbbmmm". I ask Sue what he said. She couldn't understand it either. "Here he is... Mr. Wonderful!", the announcer repeats.
"Mr. Wonderful?" We both laugh. A man in a pink, three piece suit climbs the stairs to the stage. "How y'all doin'?" he asks, and the horn section breaks into the opening riffs to "Turn On Your Love Light" -- the old Bobby Bland song. Mr. Wonderful starts singing... "Without a warning, you broke my heart. Took it baby, tore it apart. And you left me standing in the dark crying. Said your love for me was dying." His singing has a hint of Bobby Bland, but it's more Memphis soul than Chicago blues. And maybe a little James Brown thrown in. I'm wondering how he got the name "Mr. Wonderful". I think maybe I'll start calling myself "Mr. Incredible".
After a few more songs, the band takes a break. I get up to answer nature's call and ask Sue if she wants anything. She wants a glass of wine. I tell her I'll see what I can do, but I don't think they sell wine here. I take my time walking to the can. I like the people there. I don't know any of them, but I feel a bond with them... a love of the blues. They're not the pretty people you'd see at say a David Wilcox concert (I once had to endure one of his concerts on a date). On the way back I looked for wine but couldn't find any, so I bought a couple of beers and went back to our chairs.
The band kept the energy level up throughout the rest of the show. Sue was beginning to lose interest and was reading the book she had taken out during the break. She's not a hard-core blues fan like I am. She still listens to Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" album. I listen to Fleetwood Mac sometimes, but the old stuff from when they were a blues band with Peter Green.
The band played an encore, then thanked everyone for coming. We packed up our stuff and headed back to suburbia.