Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blues in the (Florida) night... (are easy to find and hard to lose, right, Allen Kanovsky?)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 7/21/13

Saturday night the BLUES filled the air of Delray Beach and Boca Raton. At Arts Garage they had Robert "Top" Thomas and the Swamp Kings and at the Funky Biscuit it was the Jon Cleary trio. I heard them both. It starts at Arts Garage. I am seated at a table with 2 couples, Marcy Anshen and Larry Okun and alongside them are Beverly Greenberg and Jerry Cohen. Marcy loves the BLUES, Beverly is in to "classical" and country-western. The guys, like me, just love live music. Along with "Top"(guitar/vocals) are Scott Hazen(drums) Ken Zeszutko(bass) and virtuoso harp player Stephen Kampa. Just before the music starts Bob Weinberg(JAZZ&BLUES Florida/JAZZIZ magazine) joins us. He knows more about music than I know about life and I've been around a lot longer. The band plays through the litany of southern BLUES including "YeeHaw Junction", "I Hear You Mockin'", "Walking the Dog", "St. Louis BLUES", "Wing Dang Doodle" and "King Snake Crawl". Much of the program plays homage to the band "Smokehouse" and Lazy Lester. "Top" uses all three methods of picking. Thumb pick, conventional pick and just plain old fingers. All reflecting different tone and mood. The first set lasted an hour and forty five minutes and the 2d wasn't much shorter. They did Buddy Guy's "Let Me Love You Baby" and "HooDoo Man BLUES". A couple of Stephen's harp solos brought the audience to their feet with applause. They played fun songs like "Lollipop Momma" and "Got To Love It If You Want It" Robert's favorite lyric line is one of his own. "I loved that little girl--I loved her way too much--Every time I put it in high--she pushed on the clutch". He also sang two lyric lines that stuck with me. From the song "Bad Seed", "You water your garden, with the tears of the broken hearted" and from "Sioux City Sue" "A nickel is a nickel--A dime is a dime--if you give me some of yours--I'll give you some of mine!!" They played a bunch more and I left feeling good about my love of the BLUES.

A short 20 minutes away is The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton. Friendly faces, hugs and kisses meet me at the door. A couple of the ladies are helping another one with the tie straps of her gown. The one being assisted is tall, blonde and needless to say, drop-dead gorgeous. It is obvious that I can afford to buy her undergarments as she doesn't seem to be wearing any. She turns towards me, extending her arms. I am about to embrace her in spite of the fear of heart attack. At that moment. Dave Shelley, decides to reach out a hand, saying "Hello Al". I will never write a nice word about that guy again! Right behind Dave are Darla and Jay Skolnick. The Biscuit is their favorite haunt and I would venture to say that I think they're at the joint every night. Also at the bar is Piano Bob, whom I can't seem to escape. In the audience I spy Nicole Yarling, Blues4Tania and Drew Preston. One of the interesting things about the Biscuit is the number of musicians who come to hear other musicians play. With John Cleary(keyboard/vocals) are Cornell William(bass) and Jeffrey Alexander on drums. I hear the first few bars of John at the keys and know this night is special. A little bit of Dr. John, a little bit of Dr. Lonnie and an awful lot of Cleary talent. He is doing an Earl King tune but I don't know the title. No matter. His playing is filled with soul and emotion. His voice sings the true sound of the BLUES. It was late when I arrived and they finish the set. The crowd erupts in sustained applause, pleading for "one more". The band gets back on stage. They play "Something You Got". Even the wait staff is shaking it in the aisles. They do "one more" after the "one more". "Porch Street BLUES". My review can be capsuled in 2 words. Holy S---!! Again, one of those magic moments in music that you never, ever hear again!  Thank you John, Cornell and Jeffrey. also a big Thanks to Albert Poliak and his wife for doing what they do. I  spoke with Drew Preston as I was leaving. He gave me an interesting quote from Joe Zawinul(Weather Report). "With words you always can lie. In music you can't lie. People feel music and the truth is more a feeling than anything else". How true!!! Drove home, missing Tracy. She won't be back 'til Monday night. Woe is me.      

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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