MANNISH BOYS (Live Show)
Source: Edmonton Journal
Date: Roger Levesque
blues sells out!
First-ever packed house bobs heads to
-- It took seven years, but Edmonton's summertime
ticket to blues paradise finally sold out Saturday.
a beautiful thing,'' smiled Cam Hayden, co-producer
of Edmonton's Labatt Blues Festival as he stood taking
in the show at stageside in the Heritage Amphitheatre
at Hawrelak Park early in the evening. The site was
packed to a capacity of 3,000 excited fans (plus several
hundred volunteers and guests), as that great Canadian
blues institution Downchild Blues Band presided over
the setting sun and a sea of bobbing dancers' heads
to make their first appearance at the fest.
admitted he had hoped it would have happened sooner
but he wasn't complaining, given the longed-for warm
weather, cheering throngs, and hot performers that
all combined to make it a lucky seventh year (a limited
number of day passes will still be available at the
gate today -- probably to sell out again).
Downchild proved to be the crowd's sentimental favourite,
then it was the Mannish Boys who really pulled out
the blues by the roots and shook off the earth. The
all-star collective of southern-bred, multi-generational
blues vets used up their 90-minute set as M.C.-singer-harpmeister
Randy Chorkoff gradually brought out each member for
his own cameo, leading towards a collaborative finale
with the crack backing band.
Kid Ramos was the one who strolled out first and stayed
out most, tirelessly stretching his strings to amazing
lengths or constructing short, sinuous, melodic phrases.
Then Mississippi-born Johnny Dyer put in the peak
performance for these ears with his splendid bellows
on the tune Mannish Boy, hitting against the simple,
spare crushing pull of the groove, reminding you of
just how primal and thoroughly expressive the blues
can be all at once.
bald Arthur Adams was another highlight when he came
out to sing
Want To Roll Tonight, accompanied by his own incendiary
staccato guitar picking and strangled strings that
almost made you feel sorry for the instrument. Finally,
Finis Tasby offered a leaner vocal and lots of soul
in his mini-set, bringing out a tasty version of Lonesome
Train. With the Mannish Boys, just the sum of the
parts was awesome.
there was an award for working the crowd Saturday,
then it should have gone to Downchild's Chuck Jackson.
After he and Donnie (Mr. Downchild) Walsh came out
to wail away on their harmonicas together at the start,
it was Jackson who really managed an expertly paced
set that mixed slow-burning ballads in among uptempo
shuffles from all over the band's long history. Walsh
was no slacker, though, proving again why he's lasted
37 years in the business with a series of protracted,
dangerous slide solos at mid-set and some killer harmonica
to top it off. And it was no surprise when they pulled
out that old gem Flip Flop & Fly for their finale,
even getting the crowd to shout out the chorus.
think we're moving to Edmonton,'' cracked Jackson,
and the crowd's ovation let them know that was a fine
New Orleans' Mem Shannon had less of a hold on the
crowd, the guitarist-singer and his Membership quartet
showed earlier on they were still one of the tightest,
funkiest bands of the weekend. Shannon alternated
between flavourful chord changes and super-slinky
funk licks to drill home the pulse, matching Angelo
Nocentelli's deep, rubberized bass grooves. It was
all hot, but the number that really grabbed my attention
was the title track to his latest album, I'm From
Phunkville, for the best example of their superb,
polyrhythmic chemistry. Bring 'em back soon, eh?
Boys (featuring Finis Tasby, Kid Ramos and Johnny
Dyer), Downchild Blues Band, Mem Shannon and the Membership,
David Gogo, Mike Kindred Where: Edmonton Labatt Blues