Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ponderosa Stomp day two

Day two of the Stomp was one of amazing highs and a couple of fairly grim lows, but overall a day to remember. The evening kicked off with bluesman Little Freddie King, whose set was spoiled somewhat by over-distorted guitar. On the small stage next door Lazy Lester was playing some effective swamp blues with guitarist Rudy Richard, once a player with Slim Harpo. But things really got going on the main stage with Lavelle White, who was quite excellent on a series of blues and swamp pop numbers recorded for Duke over 50 years ago, including I've got to run to you, Why young men go wild and Teenage love. Backed by the superb Deke Dickerson band, she was followed by Clifford Curry, best known for his R and B number She shot a hole in my soul. Wearing a not too convincing wig, his voice was a bit ragged, but he showed plenty of enthusiasm on Let the good times roll, Rock a while, Soul ranger and his big hit.

Next on was the last of the 40s and 50s sax honkers Big Jay McNeely. He emerged from the audience and took the stage to perform brilliant versions of There is something on my mind and Rocking at the insect ball, among others. He may be 84 years of age, but he looks and sounds great and he is a true showman - finishing his set with a walk around the audience blowing his sax. A real highlight.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, with a real low point courtesy of Arch Hall Jr and the Archers. He apparently enjoys cult status due to his connection with some 50s B movies, but it is a cult I won't be joining. His band were naff. Nuff said.

Next on was bluesman Billy Boy Arnold, who was excellent on I wish you would and I ain't got you, but went on a tad too long and became just a little samey. Good stuff though, and better than the run of the mill rockabilly of Joe Clay, who kicked off with Don't mess with my ducktail. He, in turn, was better than Lady Bo, who messed around on mostly Bo Diddley numbers, including Road runner and Mona.

By this time the show was running an hour late, but there was no way I was going to miss the next section, a tribute to Memphis soul, featuring the Bo-Keys, with the excellent wah-wah guitar work of Skip Pitts, the trumpet of Ben Cauley, drumming of the 'Memphis bulldog' Howard Grimes and keyboard work of Archie Turner, plus an excellent horn section. First guest was Sir Mack Rice, looking thinner than the last time I saw him, who was adequate on I'm Coming Home, Baby please don't go, and his most famous composition, Mustang Sally. Next was Eddie Floyd, who showed plenty of energy on his hits including Raise your hand, 634-5789, Big bird and Knock on wood, with a finale of the Falcons' You're so fine with another former Falcon Mack Rice. After a groovy version of Shaft from Skip Pitts, this section really took off with the arrival of the great Otis Clay. He was in superb form, running through Trying to live my life without you, a surprising She's about a mover, I can't help myself and Got to get back to my baby. Has he got a fantastic soul voice or what? Brilliant. But things were to get, if anything, even better, with the arrival on stage of William Bell, looking extremely dapper in a smart brown outfit. It's only a couple of months since I saw William at Porretta, but he was even better this time - helped of course by the Bo-Keys. He was great on Easy going out, hard coming in, and even better on I forgot to be your lover, Born under a bad sign, You don't miss your water and Trying to love two, before slipping into medley territory at the end. By this time it was 3.15am and there were still two more acts to go. I have to admit that we baled out at this point. A great evening though.


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