Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bear Creek Blues Festival

Every year, we like to choose one of the Blues Festivals which we haven't played before, for a little road trip and to meet some new friends. This year, we chose the Bear Creek Blues Festival in Slater, Missouri.....about an 800 mile round trip, but not a bad drive!

On the way, we saw just how high the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, among others, were up and of course, the flooding in the region has been all over the news. Flooding hasn't been so much of a problem in the Slater area, although the heavy rains have put the farmers way behind. We noticed the corn was only about a third to half as tall as back home, as the rains put planting so far behind there.

Heavy rains over the past few days had subsided just in time for the festival. Although the grounds were pretty soggy, the weather was otherwise great.....with no rain the day of the festival. The opening act was The Doghouse Daddies from Kansas City. They were awesome. They were a finalist in the 2008 International Blues Challenge in Memphis and it's easy to see why. Guitarist Mark Rollings got a great tone with 2 Mesa Boogies and is as good or better than we've ever seen! Bassist Bill Morland is a hoot. A great player and entertainer who keeps the tips on his bass. So much so that Bridget had to get her picture taken with his bass. Backstage, we enjoyed meeting Bill's lovely wife, June and shooting the breeze with them. Great players. Great guys.

Also on the bill was Mike Zito, a great guitar player and one of the real up and comers in Blues. He delivered a great set. He and his band, playing as a trio, had as full of a sound as any trio I think I've ever heard. He played through a Category 5 amp......which of course peaked my meteorological interest. Great tone. Ironically, all three of the trio were named Mike. This may be a blues first. Tres Mikes? We spent some time chatting with "Bike" the Mike bass player, originally out of St. Louis. He was a addition to being a monster player!

After our set, I got some wonderful red beans and rice from one of the vendors, and a woman named Kitty put a "glow in the dark" band on me. I thought it made me look like a dork.....UNTIL I was told that instead of making a deal with the devil, Robert Johnson actually simply put one of these on, and became the Blues God that he remains. At that point, I had an epiphany, and am now transformed. Thanks Kitty! Thanks for transforming me and my musical abilities.....although Rome wasn't built in a day, you know. There's a small part of me that thinks Bridget wanted me to keep the glow band on my head to make me look like a dork...even though I know she loves me. It's going to take some time for me to adjust to my glowing understand. Also, I got a little muddy, but it was good mud. The kind you squish your toes in, in the Heartland. That's the salt of the Earth between my toes! As for my set, I played the 335 straight into the "red knob" Fender twin, and had a nice time.

Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials were the headliner. We've appeared on the same bill with Lil Ed before, so we knew how good he is! As usual, he did not disappoint! Ed's such a great player and a great entertainer, in addition to being a nice person.

About the Bear Creek Blues Festival: This is a great festival to attend. The ticket prices are very reasonable. You can get up close to the music and the musicians. The food is among the best we've ever had at a festival. It's a close knit, small town which hosts the festival and they'll treat you like family. They book great acts and the sound company they hire is top notch! It's a real jewel. Check them out.

On the drive back, we drove by Lambert's and thought about a "throwed roll," but saw the lines and the tour buses, and moved on to Buffalo Wild Wings. Maybe Lambert's needs a bigger place? I don't know. I remember Lambert's Cafe when it really was just a small cafe. Although their food tastes great, somehow, it seems to me like it tasted a little better, in that little place. At Buffalo Wild Wings, we caught a little of the Cardinals-Royals game. Am I the only one who sees the Cards and Royals playing and STILL thinks about Don Denkinger???

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