Thursday, April 30, 2009

This Weekend's Events in Charleston

Kathleen here. This week and next will be be very musical and cultural here in the Lowcountry....

Dan Wright's project, Soul Captive, will play tonight, Friday, May 1, at A Dough Re Mi.

Tomorrow, May 2, Tommy Thunderfoot & the Accelerators are playing at the Bowen's Island restaurant (on the way to Folly Beach, to the right), starting at 10p.m. Jojo Wall will be playing bass and he will have tickets for the House of Blues show happening the next weekend.

The North Charleston Arts Festival is this weekend through next Saturday: May 1-May 9th. At the festival food court on May 3rd, 3pm, Steve and the Stilettos (feat. Mark Schleis on bass and Greg "the Motor" Levkus on drums) and Drink Small will perform. See for the full festival schedule, which includes regional and international acts in music, dance, film, theatre and visual arts. (Drink has a few more stops May 3 -4, click Shrimp's name below to go to the website)

Tuesday is our Jam at a Dough Re Mi. Wednesday is Smoky's Jam on Bowens Island, and Thursday is the Time Well Spent Tearoom Jam (Summerville).

Looking ahead to the next weekend:

On May 7th, Kings of Thieves is at the Oasis (James Is.); there is a $5 cover. Kings of Thieves features Rob Lowe, John Shafer, and Sammy Derrick.

On May 8th, Skye Paige will open for Dash Rip Rock at Home Team BBQ (W. Ashley).

On May 9th, Shrimp city Slim's Blues by the Sea at Kiawah will run from 2-8pm. That night, it's Wyatt's b'day celebration at A Dough Re Mi, and Tommy Thunderfoot & the Accelerators are at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach. Call or email Tommy about tickets, his contact info is on his website, click his name above to get there. Or touch base with Jojo at Bowens.

Whatever you get into this weekend, have fun and be safe.

'Until next time...

kmw April 30, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

Today, April 26th, is the birthday of Ma Rainey. April also included the birthdays of Bessie Smith on the 15th, and Billie Holiday on the 7th.

April birthdays aren't the only thing these ladies have in common, though--through three generations, they passed a torch in Blues, and changed how American song was rendered by performers, regardless of their color. All three also have songs included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry (these songs are starred "**" in the article below.)

“They hear it come out, but they don't know how it got there. They don't understand that's life's way of talking. You don't sing to feel better. You sing 'cause that's a way of understanding life.” ---Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey was born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, GA in 1886. She is referred to as the Mother of the Blues. She recorded over 100 songs in her lifetime for Paramount; some of her best known songs are "Yonder Comes the Blues," (with Louis Armstrong), "See See Rider**," "Black Eye Blues," "Runaway Blues" and "Sleep Talking Blues."

Rainey was performing music at age 14; upon hearing her first Blues song, she wanted to sing inthat style. In 1904, she married another performer and they toured with Rabbit Foot Minstrels as "Ma and Pa Rainey". She started recording in 1923, with a well-established following all across the South. On her records, she was backed by famous jazz artists like Louis Armstrong (who knew her from his early career), Fletcher Henderson, and Buster Bailey. The market for classic blues was beginning to dry up by 1928, thankfully, Rainey had the means to retire back home in Georgia, and open two theaters for other performers. She died of a heart attack in 1939.

Rainey was inducted in The Blues Hall of Fame in 1983. August Wilson wrote a play about her life and times entitled Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ( this is the title of one of Rainey's 100+ songs; the "Black Bottom" was a dance of her times). Rainey was also the inspiration for Shug Avery in Alice Walker's novel, "The Color Purple".

“The greatest blues singer in the world will never stop singing.”---Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith was born April 15, 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She is called the Empress of the Blues. Smith sang and danced in the streets for change with her siblings. When she turned 16, she ran away from home to become a dancer in traveling shows. She met Ma Rainey in her travels, and learned all she could from Rainey over the course of three years.

In 1923, Smith started recording for Columbia; her "Downhearted Blues"** and "Gulf Coast Blues" sold 2 million copies apiece. Smith earned $1500 a week in vaudeville live shows, making her the highest earning African American performers of her day, popular among whites and blacks. She would appear in the movie St. Louis Blues in 1929. With the arrival of Depression, what tastes remained for popular music turned to jazz; the classic blues heyday would not gain interest again for several decades. Smith recorded her last record in 1933, then retired for a few years. In 1936, she was planning a comeback, but fate had other plans. While traveling that September in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Smith had a serious car accident. Her arm was amputated that night, she passed away the next morning.

Smith was a tremendous influence on many people, including a young Texan named Janis Joplin (born 1943). Joplin used some of her own money to fund the placement of an official marker on Smith's gravesite. Smith is also the subject of Angelo Parra's play, The Devil's Music: the Life and Times of Bessie Smith."

Click here for a scene from St. Louis Blues, featuring Bessie Smith.

“I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That's all I know.”
---Billie Holiday quote

Billie Holiday was a young girl when she heard the records of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong. In later interviews, Holiday said she wanted her voice to deliver the intensity of Armstrong's horn or Bessie's voice. She is often called a jazz singer, but like many of her generation, she had to sing all styles that were popular--jazz, Blues, Broadway tunes. In her singing style and in her own lyrics, she conveyed the deepest feelings of blues.

Born in Baltimore as Eleonora Fagan in 1915, she was a child of teenage parents; her mother cleaned homes and businesses to make money. Holiday started helping her mother from age 6 onward. She didn't care for school, and ended up in reform programs more than once. Her mother relocated to New York City, and Holiday went with her.

As a teenager, Holiday left behind domestic drudgery and rumored prostitution to work in small music clubs. She combined her biological father's surname, Holiday, and paired it with a flapper movie star's first name, "Billie". John Hammond discovered her, and had her record music with Benny Goodman and his orchestra. This first record included the songs "What A Little Moonlight Can Do" and "Riffin' the Scotch".

Before this time, mainstream singers for white audiences sang "straight", meaning they sang, but without interpretation or feeling. Holiday made waves with her deeply personal style of singing her own material and the work of others. Songs written by Holiday include "Don't Explain", "God Bless the Child", and "Lady Sings the Blues". Yes, Rainey and Smith sang with the same heart and soul in every word first, but Holiday had technology on her side: she would get more exposure through radio and television, becoming a mainstream legend for white and black audiences alike. Straight singing became a thing of the past.

In the mid-1930s, Holiday recorded the controversial song, "Strange Fruit"**, which was based on a poem about lynchings in the South that were still a regular occurrence at that time. This is one of the earliest "social conciousness" songs of the 20th century, and performing it led to a turning point in Holiday's recording career. In addition to performing jazz and blues songs, Holiday realized she could also perform moving, slow ballads. Her career continued to rise. Sadly, this is also about the time she started using heroin and drinking more, these habits would ultimately take her life.

In 1947, Holiday was featured in the film New Orleans alongside her hero, Louis Armstrong. They would also record songs together. (Armstrong had also performed on Smith's and Rainey's records on trumpet.) In her 1956 autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, Holiday gave a romanticized spin to her life story, which had been actually pretty hard, but she always appeared dignified and strong in person. Holiday died at age 44 from liver failure.

Click the following links to see Holiday performing:

Strange Fruit

New Orleans movie

My Man

KMW, April 26 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One more option for this weekend

I forgot to mention one other option for this weekend's entertainment: Kings of Thieves (with blues club friends Rob Lowe, Sammy Derrick and John Shafer all in the band) will play at Charleston's First Annual Flip Cup Tournament at the Daily Dose on James Island on Sat the 25th from 1-3. Another band follows called Jupiter's Garden -- so two local bands, and the event is for charity.


Music for your weekend

Hi all -

This Friday you have the chance to see Mike Farris, visiting from Nashville, who is playing twice, and if you haven't seen him yet, you should --he's got a great mix of gospel and blues, and a great cd called Salvation In Lights. First at 7:30 he plays at a home on Sullivan's Island and you can go to for more info and tix if they're still available ($15 advance or $20 at door). Or see him later the same night at the Windjammer with Cravin Melon, $15, 10:30 pm.

On Saturday, Burnside Exploration plays at the Pour House (Garry and Cedric are the son and grandson of R.L. Burnside respectively).

And on Sunday there's a gospel celebration at Sterret Hall of the Navy Base put on by WJNI, which Ranny Garey recommends -- you can see Rev. Palmer and the Messengers of Hope there.

Looking ahead, May 1 brings Tin Funk to A Dough Re Mi, and be sure to save the afternoon of Sunday, May 3rd for the N. Chas Arts Fest, where you can see Steve & the Stilettos perform at 3:00 between the N. Chas Coliseum and the Performing Arts building, under the walkway. Also Drink Small at 2:00 and Dangermuffin at 4:00. Then on Sat, May 9 there's the Kiawah Blues from 2-8pm, and Wyatt Garey's birthday party at A Dough Re Mi that night. Also Tommy Thunderfoot is at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach that same evening -- so much great music!

And always keep in mind the recurring events: Wednesdays at Awendaw Green or at Bowens Island, and the Tuesday night jams at A Dough Re Mi, of course!

By the way, I saw an amazing band at Awendaw Green this past Wednesday called Pastor Pastor Blues Band, from the Georgetown, SC area. They are definitely worth seeing if you get the chance one of these days. They're not purely blues by any means, but I think it would be hard to come up with a good description. Let's just say they're rather unusual, often very high energy, and fun to watch. . .

Some of the events info here comes from the Post & Courier Preview section -- thanks Preview!

Lmw, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bowens Island Jam

Although not an official Lowcountry Blues Club event, we thought you should know that LBC member Smoky Weiner hosts a weekly jam at Bowens Island on Wednesdays starting at 8:30. The jam has a $3 dollar cover charge, but amps are provided by the core jam band, so you don't need to bring your own. Also the Bowens Island restaurant is open during the jam in case you get hungry or thirsty. Smoky tells us that some really great musicians have been popping in, so you should too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thanks, and Upcoming Events

To all who made it to the Jam, thanks for coming out. Special thanks to Ranny and Wyatt Garey for stepping in on short notice to get things started.

You know Thursday there is a live recording party at the Windjammer (IOP) with Dan Wright's band, Soul Captive, and there's a Jam in Summerville at the Time Well Spent Tearoom with Tim Shaw's band, TWS and Friends. A Dough Re Mi will feature Dewey Muggles with Calhoun Calling, Doublethink, and Calisus.

Rob Lowe and John Shafer have two shows this weekend with Kings of Thieves. Saturday is at the Island Grill & Sports Bar on Folly Rd. They will be playing 5:45pm-6:45pm. Sunday's show is at the Charleston Pour House, for the Battle of the Bands, 4p-10p (start time tbd).

And of course, next Tuesday is our Jam.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tim Shaw's Jams at Time Well Spent

The Time Well Spent Tea Room in Summerville is bringing back their Thursday night jams, on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month. These jams are hosted by Tim Shaw and his band, TWS and Friends.

TWS also put on a great show for Beth's Birthday this past Saturday night at the Dough.

Live Recording Party this Thursday!

Hi All --

Hopefully you all had a good weekend, and will be ready for another great jam on Tuesday night. Also, there's a special event this coming Thursday night (Apr 16) -- a Live Recording Party for the band Soul Captive, which although not a blues band, does feature blues club member and jam master Dan Wright on guitar. The event is at the Windjammer on Isle of Palms (1008 Palm Blvd), cover charge is only $3, doors open at 8, show starts at 9:30. The first 15 people in the door get a free cd when it's done, and the party is for ages 18 and up. The website for the Windjammer is Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Getting ready for the weekend

Hi all -- There's good music ahead this weekend, once again. On Friday night, Tommy Thunderfoot and the Accelerators will be playing at the Wescott Bar and Grill in Summerville, at 5000 Wescott Drive. Several blues club members went all the way to Jacksonville, FL to see Tommy and the band play at the Springing the Blues Fest this past weekend, and had lots of fun. And Summerville's so much closer -- so get on over there!

Then Saturday is one of those nights when there's too much going on, but that's a good thing, I guess. Cole Train is now in the FINALS of the Battle of the Bands at Village Tavern, and they need lots of fans to come out and cheer them on to win! It starts around 9 pm-ish. Also there's Tim Shaw & Friends starting at 9-ish at A Dough Re Mi -- sure to be a good time. And Tommy Thunderfoot at Home Team BBQ in West Ashley too -- so whatever you do, don't sit at home and miss out on all the fun!

Lastly, on Sunday at 3 pm, Ranny and Wyatt Garey will play with Reverend Palmer at a gospel fest at Riverside Park (near the Navy base), which will feature the nationally known gospel group called The Mighty Clouds of Joy, and other bands.

And as always, be sure to come out on Tuesday night for the jam at A Dough Re Mi. This past Tuesday we had several new players, and much good music for all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cole Train to be in the Finals of the Battle of the Bands!

In case you haven't heard yet, our friends Cole Train played a great set last Saturday, and secured a spot in the Finals of the Battle of the Bands at the Village Tavern - our congratulations to them!! This will take place on the evening of Saturday, April 11th, so make your plans to come out and cheer for them then.

We had a great jam last Tuesday night, and will of course do it again next Tuesday night as well, at A Dough Re Mi. Dan Wright, Dave Jones, and Greg Levkus continue to do a great job of having everything set up, and keeping the jam running smoothly, often with the help of Stuart Johnson who sings and sets up the sound. Repairs had been done to the sound system and that, along with just one guitar amp, contributed to a cleaner, crisper sound last week.

Several members of the Blues Club will be heading to Jacksonville, FL this weekend to hear Tommy Thunderfoot play at the Springing the Blues festival there -- lots of fun in the sun, or maybe in the rain, but fun nevertheless!

If you're in town this weekend, you could head for Whaleys on Edisto Beach to see Jeff Norwood play with Greg Levkus and Mark Schleiss, 9 pm on Saturday night. Or if you want to stay closer to home, you could try the Explorers Club at the Village Tavern -- they're not a blues band, but they're quite good. If you like the Beach Boys, you're sure to like the Explorers Club.

And see you next Tuesday night for the jam!

LMW, April 2, 2009