Sunday, November 3, 2013

A long time ago...(back before Arts Garage even existed, right, Allen Kanovsky?)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 11/03/13

...Don Raye, wrote a lyric to a song. It stated "You don't know what love is until you've learned the meaning of the BLUES". Last night at Arts Garage I learned from Tomcat Blake that you don't know what the BLUES are until you've been in love. He and the band, lovingly called the Okeechobee Rose Drops made their first appearance at the venue. They loved the place, as most musicians do, and the audience loved them back. I guess you need to serve and return in any human exchange.

Tomcat is out front(guitar/vocals) with Richard "Hombree" Price(bass), Dennis McCarthy(drums) and Michel Carras at the keyboard. Tom and Michel have been performing in France for the last several years/decades. Tom writes most of his own material and from the lyric lines you know he's tasted a lot of life. Both the bitter and the sweet. The words tell stories about women, loving, hateful, kind, mean and what they can do to a mans heart. With every song I couldn't help feeling that Tom had lived my life. The band opened with "Will You Be My Baby----When the Sun Goes Down". A little bit of country flavors the tune "I Can't Keep Up With Your Lies". I am leaning forward, listening to his every word when the band does "Let You Down". During the playing of "I'll Be Walking" Richard does a nice bass solo and Dennis plays a tricky little passage that perks my ears up. Debbie Strickland and Charlie Boyer( JAZZBLUESFlorida) are tablemates and know something about life also. The flavor of country and the west is in their renditions but it is honest, simple and really the BLUES. Tomcat does an old Hank Williams song "My Heart Would Know". The tempo is super slow so that you can catch the deep emotion of the lines. "My lips could tell a lie, but my heart would know". I know I'm growing old and maybe getting a little soft but this street brat from The Bronx had a teardrop forming. Appropriately the next was a Henry Townsend song, "My Tears Come Rolling Down". Then letting us know that his life has joy as well, he tells about his 20 year marriage and everlasting love with a song "Good Kind Of Love". During the break I talk with the band members and find that their careers are colorful, having played and recorded with most of the famous names in American Country and BLUES. I started playing in bands when I was 14. My 82d birthday is next month(to be celebrated a the Havana JAZZ Festival) and I still regret not devoting myself to the music.

The 2d set starts with Tom playing 'slide' to "Going Back Home and Feeling Fine". You can't miss a little bit of 'twang' in the tune. They play a nice shuffle called "Stuck In the Groove."

They do Elmore Jones song "It Hurts Me Too". It's amazing what you can do with 3 chords and a little funk. Dennis does a few bars of Bo Diddley style rhythms to start "Just To Help Me Get Along". They do a couple of BLUES. I don't know why but I am moved by the lyrics. I might be in a "Sentimental Mood" when they play "Baby Please Be Mine. Tom returns to the Hank Williams book with "Mansion On the Hill" again in slow time making the lyric all-important.

An original "Sunflowers" is a song about a girl from 'long ago'. "A Hole In Me" is about losing someone you love. It is true. It leaves a hole in you. When they do "Bye Bye Baby" I want get up and do the "stroll". The BLUES are back with "Here Comes Those BLUES Again". A gal in the audience approaches the stage to announce it's her birthday. Her 60th. I guess when you pass 59 more than once it is time to admit to 60. She has been enjoying her B.D. celebration. You can tell by the slur in her speech. "What's your name?" Tom asks. Her reply, "Silly". Silly is married to Willy. Haps like that is why I (Al) go out every night? You never know.

"Baby Why Don't You Treat Me Right". The band is noodlin' around, jamming with BLUES chords. Michel and Tomcat trade passages and Tomcat sings "Found Something Deep Inside". A little shuffle time with "That's You" and they close with one dedicated to Tom's marriage, "A Love Like Mine" . They have played way past their time because they were really "into" the music. Planned on the Funky Biscuit but they were closed by the time we got there. Only choice was 33ST. We got there in time for Jimmy Cavallo's last set. Bret(the manager) insisted we pay the $5 cover although the last set lasts about only a half hour. I am glad to say Jimmy is worth $5 anytime, anywhere, anyplace. Especially with Danny Burger at the kit, Rick doll on bass, Dolf Castellano on piano and guest Matt Parker joining Jimmy on tenor sax. They  open the last set with a little bop, "Bernies Tune". Jimmy continues with a medley of Ol' Blue eyes tunes. Jimmy's voice is a little more like B.S. Pullys than Franks but he can sing and sell a song. They give Danny a chance to show-off with "Cherokee". A little R&B with "Kansas City" and then let me Debby and Charlie head home with Monk's "Straight No Chaser" be-boppin' in our heads. It's Sunday AM. The clocks are set back. We are out the door headed for Ave D and Alice Day and then Barbara Van at Jake's in Hallandale and then maybe something late up at 264 The Grill in Palm Beach w/ The Susan Merritt Trio. CU. $5 neither makes me or breaks me---a nickel cover for a short last set------I don't know. It was 12:30. I should have made them set their clocks back. I would have been glad to listen to Jimmy and Co. for another hour. Charlie picked up my cover. Another Subway "sandwich of the day". "Happy days are here again"  

Al's Disclaimer:
A short note: The reason I write this is because I love music and words. I do not book acts. I do not promote acts. I do not accept invitations to review artists. I go to venues of my own choice. When and where is not influenced by anything other than who I would like to hear that night or day. If I don't like what I hear, I won't write about it. When I like it I let you all know. I never mention a name without asking permission. "Pardon me, Miss. Would you like to dance?"       

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