Hot August Blues Fest
submitted by Zeke
The venue was on the Oregon Ridge park in Cockneysville, Maryland (off I-83 North of the city). Nice stage on a little ridge, with the grass seating area sloping gently up the hill. Ample parking, restrooms (not port-a-potties), some pretty good hot sandwiches, and a few jewelry/shirt vendors around the perimeter made for a nice, cozy festival atmosphere. The sound was great: loud and crisp. Vocals were understood, and the individual instruments stood out. The forecast was for rain, but we lucked out with only a few showers and by about 5:30, the sky was showing blue and "Sonny".
The lineup was: ChooChoo Williams (we didn't get there in time for him, but he gave a harp workshop in the afternoon during some down time). #2 was W.C. Clark, an older black guitarist with his band from Texas. Pretty well received by the crowd with a good sax man, really bluesy. #3 was Renee Austin and her band; a young singer with a hot, tight band. They had the crowd going a bit. I'll skip #4 and go to the headliner; Taj Mahal (trio) . Taj played a lot of his well know songs, had a killer tenor sax player sit in for a few tunes, and of course was enjoyed by the crowd. I personally was about done by that time, so I enjoyed Taj from my chair.
Now #4 was of course Sonny Landreth, Dave Ranson and Kenneth Blevins. As the breeze blew the clouds away, it also blew "the Krewe" right up front against the ropes (I think the wind just gets into those billowing, bowling shirts and away we go. As Lucky said, "We have no shame!" So there we were, bopping to the music and taking pictures as Sonny started with
"Z Rider." Sonny thanked everyone for coming and said; "We've got the Krewe here. If anyone feels like dancing, feel free, the Krewe will show you how."
He then launched into "I-10" and "Native Stepson" and by that time, it was getting crowded down in front. I don't know how many there had heard Sonny before, but after just 3 songs, he was definitely making some fans. People were coming closer to just see his hands and slide work, and standing there shaking their heads in awe. The next 3 songs were "Brokenhearted Road" "Hell at Home" & "Gemini Blues." Hell at home was awesome, he really started bouncing and wailing on his guitar on that one, and it seemed he started to turn it up a notch after that. "Blues Attack" was next and he attacked IT!" about the best I've ever seen him do. Sonny was glancing out at the front of the crowd and singing about "the dog wagging his tail" when he saw some Krewe members waving their outstretched arms like the tails of a dog. Well he just lost it & started laughing and butchered a few words. I could see Dave and Kenneth cracking up too. He must of realized it was just us idiots, cause he quickly got back into the tune with a smile on his face. "All About You," one of my favorites, was next and it was an incredible, driving, pounding song, with Sonny tearing it up. The new "Wind in Denver" was next and it was the first time I've heard it. Man, if he'll be writing new stuff like this look out. "USS Zydecosmobile" and "Gone Pecan" were the next two and if we thought Sonny was playing well before, he sure showed everyone that the previous songs were just "warm ups" for him. Dave was providing that driving, moving bottom, Kenneth was just pounding the **** out of that drum set, and Sonny's solos were becoming more involved, longer, and more animated with him moving around on stage. Then he dedicated the next one to the Krewe and we went wild! "Bayou Teche," his solo wasn't as long as I've heard (Phily) but it was more animated and just as incredible. He said he had time for one more and launched into "Pedal to the Metal". UNBELIEVABLE! just ripping it up the whole time. The absolute best I've heard. No one else had done any encores that afternoon, but the crowd was very enthusiastic, so Sonny and the guys came back out and did "Congo Square", and again just went on and on. Sonny using those incredible overtones, then launching into some mean finger and slide stuff; back and forth. What else can I say? It seemed that Sonny was happy and relaxed on stage, and ready to show everyone what those guitars of his could do in his hands. An EXCELLENT set that just left me drained; so much so that to me, Taj Mahal seemed like a warm down period after a good workout.
Some of us were also able to visit with Jason, Kenneth and Dave at the venue, as they were milling around at the stage before and right after their set. And Sonny was his gracious self, talking with us at the cd signing tent after his set.
A great day and event.
More photos of "the Krewe" and their "spirit pole"
Thank you Margie for the use of your photos