Day One: Friday, August 10, 2001
The 13th annual Bayfront Blues Festival got underway under perfect sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70's in newly remodeled Bayfront Park. In fact, the weather all weekend was as good as you could ever ask for at an outdoor, multi-day festival. First up on the second stage were the Black-Eyed Snakes, a local band that plays hard, fast, and loud. While they remind listeners a bit of R.L. Burnside's Mississippi hill country blues, this is a raw group that played mostly the same, fast tempo throughout their set. They appear to be musicians with some talent who play energetically without much subtlety as they worked their way through a set of mostly covers.
Following on the main stage was the Twin Cities' own, always popular, and energetic Lamont Cranston led by Pat Hayes on guitar and harmonica and featuring Ted Larson on guitar. The local blues legends got the crowd pumped up and moving with their up-tempo, energetic performance in their tight set. Ted and Pat traded lead on "Murder in the First Degree" and Pat switched from guitar to harp in the middle of their tribute to Junior Wells in covering "Hoodoo Man." The band also paid tribute to their late band mate, sax man Rick O'Dell, who had played off and on with the band for many years and performed on their recently finished CD, "Lamont Live."
Bryan Lee and Blues Power then rocked the second stage with their mix of Chicago, New Orleans, and all the blues in between. Playing a black Gibson Flying V, Bryan showed off his guitar skills on the New Orleans beat of "Flat Footed," following up with more subtle playing on the slower, rolling blues of "Louisiana Woman." Bryan finished up with some great rocking blues on "Blind Man Blues," playing some heavy, low-down licks matched by his growling vocals.
Shifting gears at the main stage, Mississippi blues veteran Paul "Wine" Jones played steady, driving, hill country blues. Paul's lyrics tell the story of relationships in "If You Love Me Like You Say" and the hard, exhausting life on the farm on "The Bell Rang." Paul delivers straight- forward traditional sounding blues where the vocals delivered in his warm, clear baritone matter most. Two-thirds of the way through, Paul turned it up a notch, finishing with an enthusiastic version of "Teenie Weenie Bit of Your Love."
Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women, then gave the crowd spirited blues from a female perspective delivered with style, wit, and attitude. They mixed their popular older songs like "Silver Beaver" with newer songs like "I Need a Young, Young Man" from their latest release. Gaye Adegbalola on guitar and harp, Adrea Faye on mandolin and electric standup bass, and Ann Rabson on piano are fine instrumentalists. All three share vocals that hearken back to the great women blues singers of the past. They wrapped up their set with a fitting cover of "Ain't Gonna Shut My Mouth" to the enthusiastic response from the crowd.
Terrance Simien and the Mallot Playboys then got the crowd rocking and dancing at the main stage with the infectious beat of their mix of zydeco and roots rock filled with Latin and Caribbean beats. Terrance played accordion and danced barefoot on the stage, pausing now and again in his playing to fling strings of Mardi Gras beads to the eager crowd. Terrance sang passionately in his warm, husky voice, demonstrating his range on the funky beat song "She Gives Me All of Her Loving" to the slower, Latin tinged ballad "It Makes No Difference," to the funky, zydeco of "People Say."
Over on the small stage, John Hammond gave the crowd a great performance featuring his clear, expressive vocals, strong guitar licks, and a great band behind him. John's set featured heavy, blues storytelling in "Heart Attack and Vine" and "Gun Street Girl." The band closed with the rousing "Cold Water" that featured some great guitar, keyboard, and vocal harmonies by the band.
Taj Mahal, and his Phantom Blues Band closed out the first day with an energetic and spirited performance. Singing and dancing, waving his arms, and exhorting the crowd to feel the same passion he does about music, Taj demonstrated showmanship as well as great musical talent. Taj played a number of his popular songs including the beautiful blues ballad "Queen Bee," the Latin beat "Senor Blues," and the slower country blues of "I'm Here in the Dark." Always the showman, Taj played acoustic and electric guitars, a little harp, tambourine, and a cowbell with flair and constant motion. By the time he closed with his encore of the soft blues of "Loving in My Baby's Eyes" and the uptempo, irreverent "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," Taj's voice was hoarse from giving everything he had on stage.
Bayfront Blues Festival 2001:
Bayfront Festival Park 2001 by Michael Evan
Bayfront Blues Festival 2001 Day One by Rich Benson
Bayfront Blues Festival 2001 Day Two by Terry Marshall
Bayfront Blues Festival 2001 Day Three by Al Rohweder
Chair Marker Pictures
This review is copyright © 2001 by Rich Benson, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.