Wednesday on Da Boat
Not counting interviews, I only had contact with a few artists today. At the intimate Queens Lounge I enjoyed ACOUSTIC WORKSHOP:” Preserving Acoustic Classics w/ John Hammond", who was joined by Daniel “Slick” Ballinger (runner up at The IBC in 2004 and winner of The Albert King Award for most promising blues guitarist) for a delight and insight filled repartee between a most respectful Slick and obviously impressed veteran, John Hammond. A Q&A with the audience revealed some things missed in my interview with Hammond (coming soon to your Blueswax mailbox). His introduction of Bob Dylan to The New Hawks (soon to become The Band) at his My Way recording session in 1964 was a revelation. Mentioning some influential harp players, it was gratifying to hear Mark Wenner of The Nighthawks in the list.
As sunshine was at a premium up to this point I enjoyed 7.4 minutes of obligatory photosynthesis on the pool deck followed by a sumptuous Indonesian dinner of Nasi Goreng. Properly fueled, The Crow’s Nest was next. Although my least favorite venue due to the low ceiling, bad sightlines and, being as stated the highest point of the ship hence the rockin-est movement wise, it held some of the best moments all week. This night joined by Alan Howe, erstwhile Blueswax Photographer and guitarist for two time IBC finalists Mike Guldin and Rollin’&Tumblin’ and his purchase of duel triple shots of Wild Turkey, we watched Ana Popovic and Anthony Gomes get their sexually charged groove on jam-wise. The crowd went nuts.
The Crow’s Nest was followed by some hang time with the gregarious Biscuit Miller (Gomes bass man) and the spectacular Millie Jackson show at my favorite venue The Big Room, the multi-tiered Vista Lounge. A review of this show is not forth coming because decided I was having too much fun to take notes as the repartee by Millie even stunned MC Scrap Iron and her band. Not a show for the easily offended, let’s just state that she abruptly closed the show with a mellifluous sing song of, “F%ck You, F%ck You, F%ck You, F%ck You, F%ck Yoooou, as she strode off the stage in a very regal manner. It was one of the highlights of the week. WOW!!! The audience ate it up. Those of you in Dallas are very lucky to have her host a morning drive radio show. I can’t imagine.
Thursday in brief started by waking up to The Imperial Crowns DVD on the TV as my wake up time check (no watch, ever) and included more interviews, a conversation with Bob Margolin about sound problems with The Chicago Legends show he is involved with and part of a Robert Mugge film in the Queen’s Lounge. Another highlight, as I see this short report is getting lengthy; Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers braved the rain on the pool deck joined by special guest cruiser Tommy Castro on “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. Tommy also showed up later as a guest with his pal Jimmy Thackery at the late night jam on the Pool Deck that went till about 4 AM, actually an early night.
Heading back to a Mougli-less (MIA) cabin about 2 AM via my secret upper deck route that drops the elevator off down a hall at the side entrance of the Queen’s Lounge I was stopped in my tracks by an eerie sight. The darkened room was lit by only a white follow spot illuminating a vision in a body length white veil dancing seductively for a good number of people, most with video cameras. Dancing to an uber weird mariachi version of “Hey Jude” was Schmat. Cruisers will know who this guy is and hopefully there will be pix of him online somewhere. He is known as The World’s Last Free Man and if free means eccentric, the moniker fits. I could fill a page of just his costume descriptions. Nuff said.
Friday was spent going over notes and interviews amid a smattering of shows. The Electric Rod Thompson on The Pool Deck, Rod Piazza’s best set of the week in The Vista with special guest Jimmy Carpenter sitting in for most of the set. JC really fit the west coast swing style to a T. I sure wouldn’t mind seeing him as an addition on the next CD and perhaps occasional sideman on a tour. Kenny Neal and Billy Branch had the infamous “open fly” incident at The Queen’s Lounge and Anthony Gomes held down the Late Jam duties on the Pool Deck. Mitch Wood’s Club 88, held at the ship’s piano bar never started till after 2 AM and held sway over the night owls aboard. This night Tommy Castro rolled in about 5 AM after the jam and stayed till 7 AM. Whew!
Suffice to say my interview with Tommy Castro was delayed a few hours. Morning was delayed as quite a few people were green at the gills from the 12 foot chop, some of our crew included. As a blustery day made the movement of all Pool Deck festivities inside a necessity after John Hammond around 2 PM. Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy were at the heavily swaying Vista Lounge with Bob Margolin filling in on bass. Diunna brought Slick Ballinger up to the stage with a story of Slick as a little kid showing up at her shows with the idea of becoming a real blues man. The tunes they did together were a very warm and fuzzy reunion. “Built For Comfort” with the sexual interplay between guitarist John “Del Toro” Richardson and Ms. Greenleaf was a highlight of the show along with the riveting “Do You Want Me To Stay”. MC Scrap Iron was caught whispering something to Bob at stage left and Dianna demanded to know what was said. Without missing a beat Scrap Iron declared,” I was asking for yo phone number!” Bobby Blue Bland, Ana, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Taj, and Whiskey Store with Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery were also observed in bits and pieces as I went venue to venue before settling in at The Sports Bar to watch the Broncos dismantle the Patriots with good pal Gene Fontana of the Diamond State Blues Society and a couple Bokma Oude Genever Martini’s complete with my own olives from home. Thanks to Francisco, bartender extraordinaire for the perfect tooni’s.
The night’s sleep was interrupted by some pretty violent boat movement, noticed by me for a moment or two before returning to a deep sleep. Room service breakfast, swift deployment of passengers to shore, Pittsburgh/Indy at the airport and home to my home cooked meal deprived wife and son in Philly.
Great Fuckin’ trip! Be there or be square.