Sunday, December 01, 2013

Tales From A Woodie (Part Four): 1991

1991 was another year when great gigs came thick and fast, and I made a return trip to New Orleans. Here are some of the highlights:
January 9: Jimmy Witherspoon at the Jazz Cafe. ‘A slim moustachioed gent who clearly enjoyed himself in his two sets. Backing him, and also doing two sets, was the enormous, smiling Groove Holmes at the Hammond organ. Blues with a touch of jazz, or vice versa.’
January 13: Nina Simone at the Town and Country. ‘Great – much better than I expected. Her voice was clear and precise, her piano playing excellent. All the great songs were there, plus a few others, finishing with My Baby Just Cares For Me and I Love You Porgy.’
February 12: Robert Cray at the Town and Country. ‘Very enjoyable, smooth and soulful, especially on his O V Wright style numbers.
’February 20: Phil Guy at Willesden Green Library. ‘A set that got better as the evening progressed and support by the Bare Wires band wasn’t bad.’
February 28: Edwin Starr at the Jazz Café. ‘Really excellent – all his hits, loads of energy.’
March 7: Blasters at the T&C2. ‘Competent rock and roll, but not exceptional.’
March 31: George ‘Wild Child’ Butler at the 100 Club. ‘The ‘king of swamp blues’ – very good with a voice like Howlin’ Wolf.’
April 4: Joe Louis Walker at the T&C2: ‘Very impressive.’
April 25-May 6: New Orleans. Highlights included Two Creole Queen riverboat shows – Eddie Bo, backed by Wayne Bennett and Red Tyler, with Irma Thomas; and Ernie K-Doe with Barbara George and Jessie Hill. ‘Very thin crowd but Ernie was his usual cocky self – I sat next to him and he seemed subdued (or pissed) off-stage. Barbara gave it her all and I bought her new cassette only album. Jessie did a short but lively set.’ Other evening shows included Lonnie Brooks, Ko Ko Taylor and Lil Ed & The Imperials at Muddy Waters; Irma at the Lion’s Den (with Allen Toussaint and Lee Bates guesting on one occasion) and also at Tipitinas; Jon Cleary, Eddie Bo, Art Neville, Tommy Ridgeley and Willie Tee at Tipitinas; Buddy Guy at Jimmy’s; Marva Wright at Muddy Waters;  Johnny Adams at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl. Jazzfest included most of the above plus Jean Knight, Ohio Players, Rockin’ Dopsie, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Dr John, Snooks Eaglin,Bobby Marchan, Taj Mahal, C J Chenier, C P Love, Tommy McLain, Warren Storm, Marcia Ball, Kenny Neal, Wayne Toups, Dixie Cups, Mr Goggle-eyes, Oliver La La Morgan, Frankie Ford, Champion Jack Dupree, 5 Blind Boys of Alabama, Robert Cray and the Neville Brothers. So not much then.
June 14: Big Jay McNeely at the Jazz Café. ‘He wandered around playing to any girls he could find and even went outside onto the street at one point, still playing.’
June 18: Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington at the Jazz Café. ‘Very good, especially on his soul numbers.’
June 19: Bo Diddley at the Astoria. ‘A rather disappointing set – I can understand him saving his voice but some of the material, including a rap, was ropey.’
July 3: Linda Gail Lewis at the Royal Naval Club, Plaistow. ‘Good fun, great Wanda Jackson style voice.’
July 6: Blues Festival at Crystal Palace Park. ‘Larry McCray – good soulful voice; John Lee Hooker – same as ever; Walter Washington – good once again; Irma Thomas – brilliant.’
July 7: Texas Tornadoes at the Town and Country. ‘Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyer and Flaco Jimenez. A really good Tex Mex/Swamp rockin’ night.’
July 17: Merrill Moore at the T&C2. ‘Rather discordant and out of tune but enjoyable in a way.’ I also bought my first ever CD that day – Fontella Bass and Sugar Pie DeSanto.
July 22: Charlie Musselwhite at the T&C2. ‘Disappointing – left before the end.’
August 21: Lonnie Brooks at T&C2. ‘Excellent show and virtually everyone from the New Orleans trip was there.’
October 15: Ronnie Spector at T&C2. ‘A short set but a wonderful night of nostalgia – memories of the slit-skirted Ronettes all those years ago. Had my picture taken with Ronnie afterwards.’
October 25: The Cramps at the Town and Country. ‘Post-punk psychobilly, noisy, tuneless with the weird Lux Interior and Poison Ivy. Lots of goths there.’
November 5: Stylistics at the Jazz Café. ‘Expected to see Junior Walker but discovered the Stylistics were on instead. They weren’t bad, considering.’
November 9: Betty Lavette at the Jazz Café. ‘Wonderful.’
November 12: Screaming Jay Hawkins at the Town and Country. ‘Very crowded, enjoyable but seemed a little dated.’
November 17: Buddy Guy at the Town and Country. ‘Messed around far too much.’
November 27: Johnnie Allen at the Weavers Arms. ‘The king of swamp pop – great stuff with good backing from the Alligator Bayou Band. Got a signed JA LP.’
December 1: James Brown at Wembley Arena. ‘The man’s still fit but the show was too glitzy, especially the first half. Got going towards the end.’
December 2: Chicago Blues Night at T&C2. ‘Trudi Lynn was excellent but too little of her. Star was Kenny Neal – good but not great.’
December 22: Jon Cleary at Weavers. ‘Very good piano.’


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