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Home News Latest CyberSoulMan: The third Annual Blue Wing Blues Festival, part one

CyberSoulMan: The third Annual Blue Wing Blues Festival, part one

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Barry "Big B" Brenner opened each of the four nights of the third annual Blue Wing Blues Festival. Photo by Abby Brenner.

 



UPPER LAKE – About midway through the set of the Bottle Rock Blues & Rhythm Band’s set, vocalist Neon Napalm asked the crowd to join her in a moment of meditative Zen; a quick moment of silent appreciation, not only for the artistic vision of Bernie and Lynne Butcher, but also for the good fortune of just being able to be blessed by the music, food and camaraderie we all experienced at the third annual Blue Wing Blues Festival.


It was certainly a unique moment, one that perhaps went past some of us in attendance, yet appreciated as well by audience members who realize that this burgeoning event is destined to cement and enhance the perception of the capabilities of what goes on in the County of Lake.


This year’s festival kicked off on Wednesday, Aug. 5, in the picturesque garden courtyard between the Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Café & Saloon.


Opening each night of the four-day festival was renowned country folk blues artist Barry “Big B” Brenner.


Mr. Brenner was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side and is heavily steeped not only in the traditional blues that migrated to Chicago and became an urban style of its own, but also the regional styles that migrated to the big city, including Mississippi Delta, Texas Plains, Piney Woods, Piedmont Seaboard, Ragtime and Louisiana Swamp Bayou.


A virtuoso on six-string, 12-string and National Resonator, Brenner keeps four guitars on stage and intersperses them all throughout his set list which included selections from masters such as Tampa Red, Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly and so many others. A craftworthy and accomplished songwriter, Big B also performs original works.


Over the four nights, Brenner proved to be not only a great player, but accommodating and gracious to the attendees also. Often he inserts vocal histories and anecdotes into the performance, educating and entertaining. It was a welcome return to the Blue Wing for Brenner, who last played here at the original Blue Wing Festival back in 2007. More info on “Big B” Brenner can be obtained at www.bigbbrenner.com .


Lynne and Bernie Butcher, speaking separately yet of the same mind, concurred that the stark contrast between Barry Brenner's strictly acoustic roots-inflected sets and the electric blues ensembles of Mighty Mike Schermer, Chris Cain, Levi Lloyd, Twice As Good and Curtis Lawson made for a first class festival event.


One of the festival goers was also heard to remark that in the near future they're gonna have to block off Main Street in Upper Lake to contain the blues-loving throngs.


Closing the opening nights festivities was the Mighty Mike Schermer Band with special guest, Lara Price. Now some of you know of the resume of Mighty Mike. This is the guy whom Elvin Bishop says kicks his booty every night they play together.


For over 20 years Mighty Mike has solidly represented on guitar other heavyweights including Willie Dixon, Booker T., Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur Howard Tate, The Gospel Hummingbirds and many, many others. He has a smokin' new CD entitled “Live Set” and he and the band reprised much of it Wednesday night


When Schermer, the fellowette and fellows hit the stage the first thing he inquired was, “got any blues lovers in the house?” They then launched into their arrangement of CC Rider and by the second number, “Jump, Rock & Wail,” the dancers in attendance were up an moving.


Midway through the third number, Schermer had to come out of his jacket. It was gettin' hotter up there. Schermer and his very talented saxophonist Nancy Wright traded “touch the sky solos” throughout their set.


Mike Schermer is the author of the song “Big Sister's Radio,” a poignant, autobiographical, intensely soulful rocker that was No. 1 on XM radio in 2006. When he played it Wednesday night, the CyberSoulMan went a little nuts and sang along a little too loudly. When he hit a wrong note and was looked at crazily by a nearby blues lover, he shut up and went back to reporting to you what went on.


What transpired next was the introduction of the dynamic Lara Price. The music press keep calling her up and coming but trust me, she's already here. With four CDs already released, Ms. Price also has four live projects she performs with – Lara Unplugged, Velvet Plum, The Lara Price Band and Lara Price & Yesterday's Band.


She came out singing “I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water” and followed it with a blues medley that included, I believe, “The Love You Left Behind.” She and Mighty Mike then did a cover of Ike and Tina Turner's “It's Gonna Work Out Fine.” It was a great and different arrangement of a wonderful song. In fact it was one of the first records, that the young CyberSoulBoy bought. Ever!


The Schermer Band closed their first set with an extended jam medley that kept the dance floor sizzlin'. The songs included “Honky Tonk,” “Shotgun,” “I Got You,” “Knock On Wood,” “Signed, Sealed and Delivered,” “Pretty Woman,” “Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” “You Really Got Me,” “Shout,” “Tequila,” “Johnny B. Goode” and “Wipeout.” The list goes on from there. I think they were out to hurt the dancers!


Stay tuned for part two, coming soon.


Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz.

 

 

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Levi Lloyd and Bettie Mae Fikes get the crowd hopping at the Blue Wing Blues Festival. Photo by Abby Brenner.
 

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