The site of the Simi Cajun and Blues Festival every Memorial Day weekend is a spacious park in the bedroom community of Simi Valley in Ventura County. This festival pays tribute to and honors the men and women who died during service in the armed forces and I applaud them for that! A lesser known fact is that they raise funds for a long list of local community, national and international organizations and activities, and should be commended for the enormous effort it takes to put on a festival of this magnitude!
There are two stages: Cajun and blues, as you might be able to surmise from the name of the festival! The only time I left the blues stage area or covered dance floor was to use one of the vast array of 'restrooms' lined up on the baseball diamond.
Speaking of thriving, the opening band was Reverend Tall Tree (not sure if he is an actual reverend, but he is tall, yet not as tall as a tree). Anyway, Mr. Tree has a voice and harp skills as solid as the trunk of even a short tree. Their set consisted of all originals, nicely arranged and delivered with diversity. The band set out to play a set of songs that the hundreds of festival goers would revel in, and revel they did. The band definitely did not bark up the wrong tree - they knew what they wanted to project and did what they came to do.
What can I say about the toughest girl alive? I could say that Candye Kane is inspirational, that she is a survivor, and that she is ecstatic to even be alive. She honored her commitment to be at this festival to deliver her message and her music, even though she was released from the hospital for cancer-related issues the day before. Goose bumps overcome me! I first saw her & band in Solana Beach when I lived in Rancho Santa Fe and I was blown away by her immense talent. She pens a lot of the band's songs including "I'm the Reason You Drink" and "Super Hero" and "The Toughest Girl Alive". They put on a set filled with mostly danceable upbeat songs with a couple of slow easy blues.
Guitar Shorty and his band "Triple Danger" were up next. I know Shorty, his bass player Crazy Tomes and his keyboard player Malcom Lukens. Unfortunately I do not know the names of the other two players in the band (guitar & drums). This band energized the crowd with their sensually searing sound. Shorty is truly a genius guitar player/singer and proves it every single time I see him. "The Thrill is Gone" was poignantly performed for his friend BB King; a heart-wrenching, bittersweet rendition of one the King's greatest hits. It rocked my soul to the core and touched me deeply.
Big brother was in attendance at the festival... in the shape of Big Brother and the Holding Company, a 1960s band led by Janis Joplin. The bandleader told us stories about his days with Janis and I think he is the only one of the founding members in the band today. On their first song, the female lead singer sounded EXACTLY like Janis! Throughout their set she showed us that she was not a Janis Joplin impersonator, but had her own unique voice to lend to the band. "Down on Me" and "Summertime" and "Take Another Little Piece of my Heart" were just some of the songs that rolled out of her lips and the musicians instruments, into the blue skies above us. Their last song was "Ball & Chain" written by Big Mama Thornton. The story was told that Janis heard it and really wanted to record it... and so goes history.
The Spencer Davis Group was another band in the 1960s, led by Spencer Davis, and that remains the same all these years later. Their newest CD is called "So Far" and they did a few songs from it. The musicians were all at the top of their game skill-wise and their harmonies were harmonious to this writer's ears. They did some of their early hits like "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm a Man".
Now, normally I have heard of, and LOVE the headliner, and they are one of the big reasons why people go to music festivals. So, it was odd that I had never heard of the headliners before today. I had you-tubed them and was impressed, but not as impressed as I was when they were live in front of me!
The Record Company consists of old souls Chris, Alex and Marc - three 20 or 30-somethings who are 1) visually appealing; 2) audibly appealing; 3) just damn appealing!! I have never been impressed with a band at first sighting as I was/am impressed by these three men. An all original set of songs were energetically performed in a rapid formation one after the other, with the next one even more mind blowing than the last. Chris is the lead singer and also plays harp, lap steel, pedal steel and guitar. Alex is the bass player and also does vocals. Marc is the drummer and also does vocals.
How creative are they, you ask? I will tell you. One song was bass, harp and drums; no lead guitar... and it was brilliant! Oh, you want two more example of their creativeness? Okay, have you ever seen anyone play lap steel on an ACOUSTIC guitar or slide BASS? The crowd was in awe, as most had no idea what to expect from this unknown, yet highly successful band. You see, they have had their music in numerous commercials and tv shows. They have played with such phenoms as BB King, Buddy Guy and Robert Randolph & The Family Band. These guys get around, as word spreads like wildfire in the music industry, and rightfully so, as they deserve and have earned the respect of their peers and audiences world-wide.
Yes, we paid tribute this past Saturday and Sunday, and we did it with the universal language of music... on a perfect-weather day... in the bedroom community of Simi Valley.If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! - ”LIKE”