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Long Beach Blues Festival


   Pretty Boy's Corner

September 5, 2009

Yikes! What a ball. To be able to play a Festival in your own home town is a joy indeed. This is one of the big ones in Southern California. It's a two day event (Saturday and Sunday) held over the Labor Day weekend sponsored by one of the finest radio stations around, KKJZ as well as others. Two stages are set up side by side one slightly larger than the other so that while one band is performing another band is getting ready for their set. This makes for non-stop groove, grind and gyration in the beautiful outdoor setting of the Blue Lagoon in downtown Long Beach.

We had good company on Saturday. On the main stage were the Homemade Jams Band, Betty Lavette, Johnny Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and The Funky Meters. Whew. If that wasn't enough, on the smaller stage were Kimberly KC Allison, Sugar Ray, Monkey Paw, and us. We had the enviable spot of being sandwiched in between Johnny Winter and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Our good friend Bubba Jackson was there Emceeing the stages with Gary 'Wagman' Wagner. Both Gary and Bubba are DJs at KKJZ. Bubba was havin' himself some good time. He had a bunch of lawn chairs set up behind the stages and one minute you see him sitting down sipping on a drink, then you see him walking around chomping on an ear of corn, or up on one of the stages inciting the crowd for the finishing artist or for the next one to come on. At the beginning of our set I was standing near Bubba and I made the comment, "It must be nice ... eat a little, sit a little, then talk a little. It must be nice work." Without missing a beat he says, like the old jazz song does, "Nice work if you can get it and if you can get it that's good." We both had a good laugh over this.

Johnny Winter and his band sounded great. Johnny's getting older and frail now and has to sit in a chair when he plays, but when he starts playing he sounds as good as ever. I first heard Johnny play a few years ago when I was 16 (a few years!?) at the Boston Garden. He was opening for Led Zeppelin who had just released their second album. I had no idea who he was and when this tall albino man with long white hair came out on stage wailin' and thrashing on guitar and singing the blues I was stunned. He looked like some kind of ghostly apparition that floated across the stage conjuring up spirits. What an impression he made. It was then and there that I was convinced that there must be something to this thing called the blues. It was a privilege to follow him after his set at the Long Beach Blues festival after all these years.

The Laurie Morvan Band then played to an enthusiastic crowd. The smaller stage was nice because it was lower to the ground than the bigger stage and the audience could bunch up to the front and boogey their butts with the band. We saw many of our loyal fans out in the crowd like Lloyd, Pam and Bryant, Bruce and Fleury, Dennis and Mimi, Jim from Vandenberg, and Anne. We also got to make many new friends that we hope to see at future shows. Special thanks go to John Vestman, who mastered our last album. John was in attendance and he was in communication with the sound man helping the sound man fine tune us out in the audience. The sound man had to run sound from the side of the stage which had to be tough not knowing what was happening out in the crowd. Thanks, John, for your valuable assistance. After our set we went over to the Merchandise booth to sign CD's and meet with those fans who wanted to hang out with the band. Nice work if you can get it and if you can get it that's good.

Here's fun little note. The other morning I was on my way to my day job of teaching music in the city of Paramount. Alas. I was listening to KKJZ, like any other morning where Bubba Jackson has the morning drive time from 7 to 9. Usually KKJZ plays straight up jazz music like Miles and Coltrane. They stay pretty close to a steady diet of jazz, but on this morning Bubba must have gotten a wild hair up somewhere. He played Muddy Water's "Hootchie Koochie Man", a soulful blues number by Hank Crawford, and "300 Pound of Fun" by Howlin' Wolf. This last one brought a real smile to my face. What a joy to hear some real good blues on a Los Angeles Radio station while driving to work early in the morning. When I got to work the first thing I did was fire up my computer and email Bubba. I thanked him for bringing me some joy and life in my morning. He emails me back and says, " I was just trying to keep a smile on our faces". Well, he did and hope that you keep a smile on yours as you go out and live your life. Thanks for reading.


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