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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 Home Made Jamz' Blues Band. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home Made Jamz' Blues Band. Show all posts

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jan. 2012 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise Part II - correspondent Stilladog

When we hit St. Croix, USVI, it was just in time for the St. Croix Blues Festival. This festival began at noon and was spread out across various bars all afternoon culminating in a huge gathering at the Verne I. Richards Memorial Park stage in Frederiksted at dusk where the featured artists were Coco Montoya, Shemekia Copeland, and the Low Rider Band (formerly known as WAR... the band can't legally market themselves as WAR, but I can say that).

After a hike of 1.25 miles through "the jungle," as my wife called it, I hit a place called Rhythms At Rainbow Beach. They had a local band called the St. Croix Blues Society playing. These guys jammed and played well beyond the 12-3 time frame. I ended up here due to a prior commitment to deliver some Tom Jenkins BBQ Sauce down from Ft. Lauderdale to the keyboard player of the St. Croix Blues Society, Tom Eimer. And what I discovered at Rhythms is that Harry Nilsson was right. You put de lime in de coconut and drink em bot togetta, put de lime in de coconut den you feel betta. The Lime In The Coconut is their signature drink and it alone was worth the hike!

By the time I got to the festival stage Coco Montoya was just starting up. He did an abbreviated set due to technical sound difficulties but it was very inspired. About half way through, a typical Caribbean rain squall hit the festival. But we all had so many Bushwhackers, Cruzan Confusions, and Voo Doo Juice in us (on top of the Lime In The Coconuts) it didn't really matter. Coco kept jamming and we absorbed it all.

I had never seen Coco Montoya play before and was surprised to find that he is a left handed picker using a right handed guitar, a la Jimi Hendrix.

After a brief respite from the rain, another squall hit and we headed back for the ship where we sat on our balcony and listened to Shemekia Copeland and Low Rider Band.

The next day in St. Maartens, N.V. was spent at the beach but was not without music. We were thoroughly entertained by The Might Dow, aka Isadore York, and his steel pan band. Well known as the Calypso King of St. Maartens, The Mighty Dow proved that what Etta James said is true, "It's all blues."

After his scheduled set, The Mighty Dow continued to jam with the Kenny Neal Band who laid down an awesome groove for a sunny day at the beach! Kenny Neal employs nearly all his family (brothers, sisters, children etc.) in the band. Most noteworthy being his brother Frederick on keys who also hosted late night jams in the Piano Bar along with Mitch Woods and Eden Brent. And you must see Kenny's twin sisters Charlene and Darlene shake their sizable bootays! Let me tell you the James Brown Dancers got nothin' on those girls!!

The next act for review is the Homemade Jamz Band. Another family band which consists of two brothers and their sister, Ryan (vocal and guitar), Kyle (bass) and Taya (drums) Perry. In addition to giving a blues "tutorial" of sorts to public school children on St. Croix, these youngsters really rock it out! They also appear to be very nice and talented young folks who are only going to get better. Again, the blues is in good hands with kids like this playing it! Of note is Ryan Perry's custom guitar made from a Ford muffler and replete with dual tailpipes!!

Also appearing and representing the artwork of the cruise was my old buddy, James "Super Chikan" Johnson. Clearly Super Chikan was by far the most accessible, funny, and generally congenial artist on the cruise as he was on my last Blues Cruise in Jan. of 2010. He takes the time to talk with anyone who strikes up a conversation with him and is more than happy to clown around during an impromptu photo request. His music was great but the man is greater than what he plays.

Also appearing was Rod Piazza & the All Mighty Flyers featuring Rod on harp and his wife, the incomparable Honey Piazza, on keyboards. Rod might have had the tightest band on the ship. Among some very very professional performances, The All Mighty Flyers stood out. Ran into the Piazzas in the elevator where Honey and I reminisced about the time we were backstage for Aretha Franklin's Chesapeake Blues Fest performance. Honey told me that Aretha is getting married. But by the time I was on the plane for home, People magazine informed me that the nuptials were off.

I tried to catch some of Bettye LaVette but something about her rubbed me the wrong way. I think it was her stage presence or personality. At one point she said she was going to sing all her "hits" and ask the audience why they never sold. Bettye's recordings are great but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see her live. To be fair, those who stayed said she did a stirring performance on her cover of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me."

I know Kenny Wayne Shepherd was the feature headliner of this cruise but I never bothered to go see him. I've seen KWS perform numerous times and he can really play. But he doesn't bring anything new to the table. I know Bman doesn't share this feeling but I can just as easily listen to my old Stevie Ray Vaughan records if that's what I want to hear. Word on the ship from those who did see him play was that his special guest, Buddy Flett, was the star of his show anyway. I tried to watch Kenny Wayne's last set from the TV in my stateroom as I packed to disembark, but after 4 tunes I switched over to the Weather Channel.

So that's about it in two nutshells. Bottom line here is that the Legendary Blues Cruise is first and foremost the best vacation you can ever have. And secondly, if you enjoy blues music the cruise is the place to be. They've got another one scheduled for October sailing out of San Juan, PR. If you can, get on it!!