I told you a long time ago that the reach of BRP was national in scope, and I recently got on a big jet to the West Coast just to prove it. California to be exact. And to see some live music. Here are some thoughts and observations.
I was in NoCal, so none of that “French bikini on Hawaiian island dolls by a palm tree in the sand” stuff. The beaches up here are rugged and beautiful, but they’re also cold. We got close to the Pacific at Muir Woods, and did some logging there. Check out these shots of the coastal redwoods:
I’ve been lucky enough to have been to California many times (I used to work for an outfit based in San Francisco). But this was the first time in years and years of coming to the state that I actually saw it GREEN. Yes, the hills were emerald and beautiful, and not that typical dry brown grass stuff that looks like it will catch fire at any second. It’s nice that the drought ended and left the state looking lush (well, Western lush, nothing like the East Coast). Now, here’s a nice photo of the wine country in Sonoma to illustrate what I’m talking about. Beautiful!
As long as I was in wine country, why not catch some live music? What, you thought I was going to say drink some wine? Not me, cowboy, but I did see some badass bands and rode a horse. Yup, here’s an illustration of me riding that fine filly. BillyRidesFilly.com sounds like a famous rock blog! Anyway, I look like a natural, don’t you think? I need that ten gallons just to cover my egotistical head, which somehow just barely fit into this picture.
So what about these bands? Well, the variety was huge, and unfortunately, I didn’t catch all the band names. Apologies for that – I’ll update should I get the names later. Anyway, up first was a jazz trio from SF who did a bang up job. Not your typical BRP music, but I appreciated their professionalism, virtuosity and the fact that they were willing to hang out with me for a few minutes. A photo of the boys in action is below:
Next was a BANGIN’ Motown band hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. Check out these shots: three lead female singers in shiny dresses, two male lead singers, four horns, etc.
And they did not stop playing for 3 hours straight – I mean, no breaks at all, just non-stop jammin’. What Motown songs did they play? Oh man, I can’t go through the whole list, but Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Glady Knight, etc, all got the full treatment. I danced a wee bit. Check that, a lot, and kept the groove going for hours. I got back to my motel that night and my feet hurt, but I had a big smile on my face. And the fun was just starting.
The next day, it was bluegrass in the wine country. Now, you would think that to hear great bluegrass you would need to be at the Lincoln Theater in Southwest Virginia (suspiciously close to one of the nation’s finest universities), but you would be wrong. Because here I was in NoCal wine country listening to the banjo and mandolin, and just loving it. These guys were cool and they treated me with all the respect a rock blogger deserves. Here’s a pic:
Once these guys stopped playing, a very different band started playing. BRP snuck around the building, and lo and behold found these guys just cranking it out: the Good Time Haver’s. They were playing Petty (Tom, not Richard), John Prine, Leonard Cohen (the dead guy du jour), and everything in between. They were tight, fun loving, taking requests from yours truly, and doing a damn fine job of not laughing at me while I danced like a fool in front of them. Four stars, boys!
To top it all off, on came Phil Cook and the Guitarheels. If you don’t know this dude from North Carolina via Wisconsin, well, you should. Phil is a really nice guy, has a tight band, and played 2 hours of alt-country/Allman-esque/Little Feat-inspired fun music. I caught a few songs during the sound check, and then came back for the full set that night. They did a great cover of “Blue Sky” and used the keys to handle the Dickey Betts guitar licks. Whatever, it worked. And Phil started the show with his own song, “1922,” and finished with another strong original, “Ain’t It Sweet.” It was great. By the way, Phil has a terrific sense of humor and a nice stage presence. Here are some shots of Phil and the boys bringing it, both at the sound check and later during the show:
OK, that’s the first time I’ve ever done the five-bands-in-one review, and I had to keep it light on the details in order to enable you to read this through without taking a nap in between. At least, that was my intent. If you did drift off, I hope you had BRP ringing in your ears while you dozed.
Now, The Man is sent me straight from California to NYC for the rest of the week, where he made me WORK!! But not to fret because while I was somewhat indisposed this week, next week I’ve got three live shows coming up in five days that will blow your minds. Oh, and a trip to Charlottesville, VA to visit Monticello in the meantime. So now is the time to go stock up on milk and bread because the BRP onslaught is going to consume you like 36 inches of snow in February. You’ll be stuck for days reading this blog, but thankfully, you’ll have power and food. Are you ready? Let’s count it down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ……
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.