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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Dave Motter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dave Motter. Show all posts

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dateline: 7/12/2014 Westminster, MD- Common Ground Music Festival. - Stilladog - Special guest reporter

Yesterday the Common Ground On The Hill Music Festival began wrapping up two weeks of workshops, lessons, and jams. The prime purposes of Common Ground are cultural diversity, musical education, and promotion of the American roots art forms, particularly music and dance. Of course, at the heart of all this is blues music. Whether sawing out a hoedown on a fiddle, a zydeco two-step on accordion or ripping up a mean blues break solo on a National Steel guitar, the blues is always present while not always front and center. My day started out with a set by Scott Ainslie. He played a National Steel throughout his whole set, once using a paper napkin to use as a damper to get the sound he wanted when blending sad blues lyrics with an upbeat guitar line straight out of Nigerian Juju music! In addition to some original tunes his set was accented by Robert Johnson tunes and stories. He did Come On In My Kitchen in the David Bromberg style. And after telling the story of the "Sundown" laws that did not allow blacks out after dark -which got Robert Johnson's head busted open more than once- he finished the set with Crossroads Blues.

After cooling off with a craft beer at Der Bier Garten which was really served in a garden, we took in Guy Davis set complete with some Appalachian clog-style dancing to a blues number. Guy Davis is probably one of the most popular and well recognized artists at the festival and has been playing there for many years. He did several classic blues tunes in addition to a few covers. He was accompanied by Professor Louie on accordion and Christopher James on mandolin. The knockout punch by Guy Davis was a rendition of Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay in which Professor Louie's haunting accordion part set the base for Davis impassioned vocals. In my mind Lay Lady Lay by Guy Davis was the runner-up for best single song of the day!

Mary Flower followed Davis on the "Blues Stage." She played a number of original tunes. If you are unfamiliar with Mary Flower music, she is at times heavy on the slide guitar played lap style on Dobro and a custom made box guitar. The highlight of her set was I'm Dreaming of Your Demise from her Misery Love Company album. Despite the fact that she was smack in the middle of Carroll County Maryland, she did not play the Carroll County Shuffle. Instead she offered up loads of other top notch acoustic blues and was a most gracious performer.
After a pulled pork sandwich and some jalapeno & sriracha coleslaw we settled in for the most entertaining set of the day, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix. This set was billed as "Professor Louie & The Crowmatix with the Rock of Ages horns. Except the Rock of Ages horns apparently missed the tour bus. But in their place was a trombone, trumpet, tenor and baritone sax horn section made up of local guys which Professor Louie introduced as "The Westminster Horns."
Thanks to Coffey Music of Westminster, Bob Coffey and his merry band (including my old tennis partner Dave Motter on trombone) the Rock of Ages horns were barely missed! The band did have to stay pretty close to the charts with a bunch of new guys playing, so only organized solos were rendered. But it was a great set highlighted by three outstanding Band covers, Ophelia, Don't Do It, and The Weight. Professor Louie is another artist who has been very active in Common Ground. I know he's played every year that I've been there, and many more.

The grand finale was Hot Tuna. Jorma Kaukonen was extremely sharp for a 70 year old picker. And the tone resonating from his acoustic guitar was about as pure a tone as the instrument can render! Along with long time partner Jack Cassady on bass and Barry Mitterhoff on Mandolin, they picked their way through the American Folk and Blues catalog and their own songs. Hesitation Blues, Prohabition Blues, and Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out were all very strong numbers. But the single best song of the day was Barbeque King Blues! Just fantastic. Sooo much better than ANY rendering of this song than anything I've heard since the time I picked up Jorma's Barbeque King album on vinyl from the cut-out bin at my local record store in 1984. I hope it was recorded to be released on a future album because they really nailed it and looked like they were having fun doing it!
Bottom line: It was a beautiful day to do many of the things I enjoy most, drinking beer, eating barbeque, and listening to the very best blues music. This festival is truly a hidden gem and has been for years. In years past I've seen Buckwheat Zydeco, Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and CJ Chenier at this festival. And the best thing is, it's only two miles from my house! It's a shame more people don't come to it, but on the other hand the crowd was just right for maximum enjoyment. The Festival continues today with Professor Louie playing again and tonight's headliners, New Riders of the Purple Sage.

 Stilladog Rides Again!  

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