The Long Beach Blues Festival (Day One) 09/02/06

Featuring War, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, Lucky Peterson, The Mannish Boys

Four Stars Rocks and Blue!

Imagine a Pro WAR Rally where everyone comes out feeling great!

J.C. Mašek III... So black he's Blue!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!



I paid this time!

These are the Guys (and Dolls)!

Ah, the Long Beach Blues Festival. It's become just as much of a tradition on this site as positive reviews for bad movies! This year, something incredible happened. I actually paid to get in. This could mostly be accounted for with the fact that I've been even more of a Pill lately than usual... hence the freebies weren't flowing like free beer, and for the fact that... actually that's about it. So, as an early Birthday Present (make that two full months to the day early) for Michelle, A Bluesin' and a Boozin' I did go, not just the one day, but both this time out. Being VIP all the way (meaning, not platinum this year, meaning, no free beer), I would imagine that it would be a logical conclusion that I didn't get nearly as drunk as most years.

That conclusion... would be wrong.

Oh... CRAP, man! So we each get three beer tickets, but I fork over the dough for more. Then, Tracy, sweet Tracy (who still went Platinum) decided to bring us our share of free beers. I thank her. My brain cells (and my waist line) do not!

But my ears are doin' fine, baby!

The day began with what should euphemistically be known as "People Watching"... but was actually more aptly defined as "Checking Out Chicks". There's something warm and rewarding about discussing women with a woman... ah, I'll no more on't.

The musical day began with... beer... and The Mannish Boys. Consisting of Kid Ramos, Mike Eldred, Finis Tasby and Johnny Dyer, these guys are the Down Home answer to a Super Group. The show was great and eclectic, consisting of some great classic blues, and with four varied collections of experience up on that stage, there was no dearth of diversity. The fret-board journeys were not only found on the standard Strats but also on some Killer Table Steels. Sweet, sweet, sweet! The show's prime joy was found in their rendition of the classic "I'm A Man"... which was also about the point at which Michelle began to realize that I was getting somewhat loaded. It's all in the singing, or the belief that what one is doing is singing. My guess is... I probably wasn't! YYYY

At this point (if I'm remembering correctly, which...) I went to go buy some lawn chairs, so as to better obscure the view of the listeners behind us. The guys at that stand didn't think I could sing either. So they tickled me. Or was that them hitting me with a broom to get me to leave?

Who knows, but I was going anyway! Lucky Peterson was on next. Lucky is a relatively young musician, famous for his "triple threat" of clear, soaring Vocals, amazing Guitars and that bluesy Organ that, most assuredly, will get you shakin' your tail feathers! Lucky was also lucky to have one hell of a great backing band, whose ensemble efforts never tried to outshine the band leader, but also made sure each member was noteworthy. I made sure that each was noted... I toasted each of them with drink after drink. YYYY

I learned my lesson from Last Year's show... and the year before... and the year before that. Namely, I made sure both of us were practically swimming in sun screen to avoid coming off looking like a couple of Human Crawfish. We had the lotion all over... it spilled off into the chairs, onto the picnic blanket and out into a spreading circle in the grass around us. Sadly, this caused a great many of our fellow patrons to slip and fall into this white puddle, cursing both our houses and raging against our proactive SPF battle. Michelle flipped them off, I just looked at them.

Before I go on, I'd like to point out that we were all a little hacked off. The LBBF is as famous for its sweltering heat as it is for its cool blues. Stunningly, this year the genius coordinators (including those from KJazz 88.1) didn't manage to get an ATM within the fence... What's worse, there was no reentry. Leave and you're out forever, dude! This meant that we had about ONE BUCK for food. Which means I look like a real JACKASS. Luckily, around this time, Michelle was able to feed my Visa Card, along with PIN (man, that's trust) to somebody I'd never met in order to get some Green Leaf (the non smokeable kind) into our hands. Good news... Michelle's still alive.

I also bought more booze... Margaritas this time... with which we were able to toast Rickie Lee Jones! Ah, sweet Rickie Lee! With her blonde hair and acoustic guitar, she offered up a blues-infused light rock, with just a tinge of country to be heard in the mix. Rickie Lee wasn't bad... not at all, really, but she might not have been the best idea for this particular show. Jones seems better suited for a small venue or a coffee shop. With each passing plane her high, sweet voice was drowned out. Also, as good as she was, it's hard not to notice that there isn't a great amount of diversity in her set list. No, not every song sounds exactly the same... but they all sound like they came from the same place. YYY

I'm becoming just a bit of a bore of late, which I can tell from the very repetitive nature of my speech. I've been saying the same things on the same topics for some time now, and it gets worse when I'm either nervous or drunk. I was drunk, and was nervous about saying something repetitive. The group of folks on the blankets next to us even leaned in to tell me "You just said that, Jerk!" a few times. Oh, me!

I'm becoming just a bit of a bore of late, which I can tell from the very repetitive nature of my speech. I've been saying the same things on the same topics for some time now, and it gets worse when I'm either nervous or drunk. I was drunk, and was nervous about saying something repetitive. The group of folks on the blankets next to us even leaned in to tell me "You just said that, Jerk!" a few times. Oh, my!

You know who is most certainly NOT repetitive? Guitar Junior... Yep, rockin' Luthor "Guitar Junior" Johnson graced us with all six strings of his presence. Huz-freakin'-zah, man! Is there any greater mix of Mississippi Delta Rhythm and straight-up Chicago Blues? If so... are they still alive? Johnson sure as Strummin' is, and what a show! The feel of Muddy Waters still informs the sound of his work, and luckily he's got the band to back him up! However, Luther Johnson is most assuredly not just a Muddy Waters scion! He's got his own sound that encapsulates some of the best of the Blues. YYYY1/2

For some reason beyond sanity, our conversation, by this time, had developed into a question of whether or not I could carry Michelle to the car should I need to. I was sure that I could. She was positive that I was whistling Dixie. Technically, being a Luzianner Boy myself, and was at a Southern-Infused Blues and Booze festival, I probably was, but I still meant what I said. I picked her up. She said "Your hand is shaking!" I carried her all the way to the long row of Port-A-Johns... she still wasn't impressed. Sometimes you just can't win. Uh... there'll be more on this fiasco in the review for the second day's show.

Hell and Damn!

It was at this point that War broke out in Long Beach. Don't worry, we were very much alive before, during and after. The bad news about War is that founding member Eric Burdon was not with the band (if memory serves, he's again touring with his "Other" famous band, The Animals). The good news is that Lonnie Jordan is most certainly still with the band, and worth his weight in Funk! Of course... he's the only remaining original member of War, but that's a story (and court case) for another time. By any name, War is still kicking ass! The Bluesy Orchestral Funk, focusing around Lonnie's Keyboards (and Vocals) rattled the fences and demanded attention from every ear. There are more than a few War Hits that can be counted on at every show. First, if not greatest, of these is the classic "The Cisco Kid (Was a Friend of Mine)". The song sounded beautiful with that reverberating keyboard and punching brass section. "Why Can't We Be Friends" (which is at once, silly, soulful and poignant) would have raised the roof, had there been a roof to raise at this outdoor show. Last in line was the heavy hitting finale that War gave to all its friends... you know it, you love it and the trumpet is ready to play that familiar twelve-note progression: "Low Rider". Like the rest of the set, the song sounded incredible, not only showing a loose and live feel, but also giving the impression of an almost-studio quality. If the show, and the song, had any flaw it's that "Low Rider" well outweighed its welcome before the final bow took place. Lonnie Jordan introduced each band member, one at a time, and allowed each not only a showcase for their instrument, but an actual song mixed in with the main medley. Hey, it's great, but man... who would've expected Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" in the midst of a lowrider anthem... or should I say THE lowrider anthem. Still, if the main complaint is that a great band played too long, then sign me up for more War! YYYY

War (and alcohol) was enough to Lullaby Michelle to La-La Land. Not even my screaming and headbanging to the lyrics of "Iron Man" woke her up! For a moment I thought I'd be getting the opportunity to win that bet and carry Michelle and all our stuff to the Cruiser. Nope... I must have smelled pretty ripe because awaken she did (having caught every second of the set in the peace of Quiddity) and it was high time for Breakfast... being that it was almost 8 PM. I was out of Quips, Michelle was out of Coffee, and the Blues Fest was out of tunes... for another 12 hours or so! Four Collective Stars out of Five (Technically 3.9, but hey...) for Day One of the 27th Annual Long Beach Blues Festival. What's the rest of the story? I'll see if I can remember... I drank even more on Sunday! Damn! Regardless, it's a story for a different time, so I'll see you in the next reel, you drunkard!


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The Long Beach Blues Festival (9/2/6)
Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is responsible for his own reviews
And for the fact that he's blown every bit of weight loss with this past weekend's festivities!
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