Tuesday, April 6, 1993

Souhern Comfort Blues Festival

The Second Annual Southern Comfort Blues Festival. Unfortunately, the organizers chose the same week-end as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival so by the time they started booking talent, just about every touring blues act was booked at the New Orleans festival. The booking was to be handled by MCA and then it wasn’t and finally Dick Flohil stepped in and helped out but the line-up was a very “inside” group of performers. The headliner was Booker T. and the MG’s and there was a concert featuring David Lindley and the Holmes Brothers. I managed to wrangle a “Roadhouse” pass from organizer Peter Donato which allowed me admission to all the club venues and I wanted to get over to see H-Bomb Ferguson who had a reputation for being a very rude blues man. There was even a story circulating that he was known to play the keyboard with his “vital organ” He didn’t do that at the show we saw, but he was pretty outrageous. It seems he saw Rick James performing years ago with a fluorescent wig and he’s taken up the “look”. He was pretty funny, but the jokes about pimping for his grandma wore thin. The music was solid, with a Mick Taylor look-alike guitar player. The show was opened by a local bluesman called “B. V.” something, a real original – he played an old Gibson semi-hollow with a very raw sound (and carried it around wrapped in a blanket held together with an old belt). Funky. And for those band-mates of mine that complain because I don’t have my endings worked out, this guy did a set where every single tune finished with a train wreck. It got a little tiring, but JV, who was sitting with me thought it was just part of the Garage-grunge blues sound he was putting out. Dave “Daddy Cool” Booth probably didn’t agree; he left after the first tune. Southern Comfort didn’t have the same magic this year. The weather certainly wasn’t with them – the opening concert at Nathan Phillips Square was snowed out. Anyway, they made the best of it. David Lindley was great but the stars of the festival were Booker T and The MG’s. They played a great set which kicked off with “Green Onions” – as the lights came up, we saw the silhouette of a buxom ‘hullabaloo’ go-go dancer and it really fit the mood. She had to be carried off the stage by a roadie and it was only then that we realized she wasn’t part of the show. She climbed back up later when Eddie Floyd was singing “Knock on Wood” and Eddie didn’t mind at all. Throughout the evening there was a grand piano set up and waiting for the “surprise” appearance of Van Morrison who had played earlier that evening at Maple Leaf Gardens. As it turned out, Van had gone to the Montreal Bistro to hear Jay McShann who was playing with my new boss, Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Jim Galloway. I have joined the full-time staff at the Jazz Festival office as ‘office administrator’ in addition to my role as Managing Editor of the LeadSheet. It was a grueling schedule but a great bunch of folks to work with and I did get to meet a few jazz musicians.