I had the blues, plain and simple. That vague "don't-know-what's-wrong-but-somethin-is" kinda feeling. And no matter what I did, I couldn't shake it. Usually doing the show on Tuesdays helps, but not this time. I walked around for days feeling lost and disconnected. "Nobody loves me but my mama but I suspect she's jiving too 'cause she keeps calling me by my sister's name or she just hollers "Hey, you!" Yea, I had the blues all right!
This blue attitude took me into the Viking Bar one Thursday evening to listen to Charles Lawson and Ed Petsche do that front porch blues thing they do. They smiled and nodded soon as I walked in, which made me feel better about walking into the place. It had been a while since I'd been in the Viking. Wasn't too sure about the atmosphere in there. But nothing was any different. Jay behind the bar, Bob Parker and Ruth on the dance floor, familiar faces coming and going. Charlie and Ed on stage, two guitars making music.
I didn't feel much like talking, just wanted hear some blues. Nothing overamped or
pedalized. Didn't want to hear a battle of instruments or a battle of egos. I just wanted to sit close to an amplifier and let the unfiltered music go through me, soothing me. I sat in the front booth, pushing coats, empty beer bottles and guitar cases aside to make room for me, my coat and the blues I just couldn't lose.
I always like the way music resonates around the Viking Bar, with its time-rubbed wooden contours. Sometimes, if I sit real quietly, I can feel the vibrations of the music as it travels from the stage and seeps into the walls, booths and bar of this West Bank watering hole. People come in and out the door, some speak to me, but most of them don't even look in my direction. The empty guitar cases and I were glad for the anonymity so I could give the music, and my glass, my undivided attention.
Charles and Ed play semi-acoustic dusty road blues, mixing Hound Dog Taylor/Brewer Phillips tunes and some originals with Robert Ward and Jesse Mae Hemphill-ditties. Dressed all in black with white-blond hair, Charles Lawson is the more flamboyant of the two; he does all of the singing and most of the talking. Ed Petsche, well, he's just Ed. Dressed fashionably Minnesotan in flannel and blue jeans, he lets his guitar do all the talking, quietly playing dexterous counterpoint to Lawson's entertaining artistry. Both players are skilled instrumentalists, but it's Ed who draws from his song cache more often, delivering auditory treats. One example, the synthesis of the old standard "Sentimental Journey" into Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me to Do" caught the audience, and Charlie by surprise. Petsche strums and picks his way through blues, jazz, folk and a little country music, keeping his gaze on his guitar the whole time.
In contrast, Charlie speaks to folks as they enter the club, he tells tall tales from the stage, shares jokes and anecdotes, generally just working to keep the crowd engaged. A difficult thing to do at the Viking, a place known for its' creative and immediate feed back from fans. But every Thursday from 7 - 9 pm, Charles and Ed hold their own on the Viking Bar's triangular stage. Their melodic interchange and skillful showmanship chased my restless blues away. I even joined Ruth and Bob for a spin around the dance floor.
Charles and Ed have a CD release they put together called simply "Charles and Ed Play Blues", which can be heard pretty regularly on KFAI Radio, in Minneapolis. Their live appearances at that station have drawn more and more people to their brand of unassuming blues and adept musicianship. The CD is well produced and reflects their honest sound of two lead guitarists who work well together. Their sound is the clean, crafted lonesome road blues that's been making a revival in coffee houses and one man shows. I predict that it won't be long before Charles and Ed will be opening for the likes of John Hammond or Guy Davis next time they come to the Twin Cities. Right now, though, Charles and Ed can be seen for free on the West Bank. How long that will last, who knows? Anyway, Jay knows what I'm drinking over at the Viking so I'll be there this coming Thursday, sitting by the stage, feeling the music vibrate through me while making my blues go 'way.
You can get the CD at the Electric Fetus, 2010 4th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN (or)
Call Charlie at: 651-644-7176 and leave a message.
By Blues DJ Jacquie Maddix, KFAI Radio - Mpls, Minnesota
This review is copyright © 2001 by Jacquie Maddix, 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.
Click button to join
our mailing list!