Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sometimes private gigs are the best gigs

Monday evening I had the privilege of working with 5 other DC blues allstars in the region (not to mention in the USA). They are, in no particular order, Bill Heid, Joe Stanley, Linwood Taylor, Steve Novosel, and Big Joe Maher. It was a private cocktail party for the National Association of Broadcasters. We played quiet and all we did was mellow blues, but musically speaking, it was one of the most satisfying blues experience I ever had. The atmosphere, the musicianship, and the subtleties made this event a winning combination. Not to mention my natural high lasted 2 days after the gig.

The stage setup was more than perfect, a grand piano on the very right side. Joe's drums setting up in the middle back. Novosel had his upright bass between the grand and Joe's drum kit and sat on a stool. Linwood's guitar and amp on the left side on the stage, me on the right, Joe Stanley and his sax in the middle. The group is probably worth more money than we were paid, but what the hey, it was a Monday night. We were happy.

This was my first official gig with Steve Novosel (and Joe Stanley for that matter). I had always wanted to play with Steve but just never had the chance to. Steve's fame came from his bass work for the great David "Fathead" Newman, Rashaan Roland Kirk, and the late Shirley Horn who passed away last year. Steve's bass playing is old school (the closest thing to Ray Brown in this area). He just lays the pocket down and play with superb accuracy and feel. His solos are full of zeal and inspiration. He also likes sliding his finger down the bass for some soulful touches. He's Mr. Cool, no doubt. He and Joe Maher make a tremendous rhythm section. Adding Bill Heid to the mix, the three worked magic that night.

Joe Stanley's sax playing and singing go without saying. One of the only surviving honky-tonk sax players from the 60's, he's worked with more greats than anyone I can think of. He gives a nostalgic sound to the music, and often places the audience on a memory lane. Linwood Taylor laid down a few tasty, soulful guitar licks that night without raising the volume of his guitar. When confronted by his previous loud guitar playing, Linwood quipped, "That's the old Linwood." The new Linwood is the ever more subdued, subtle, tasteful, and soulful guitar player.

With a lineup like that, any harmonica player would sound good. I didn't play any crazy licks that night. Just the licks I've always known and liked and savored. When I was soloing, I had the feeling of walking on air. When I looked backwards, I saw the occasional smiles from Big Joe and Steve. To them, it might mean nothing. To me, it meant everything.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by