Front Porch Swingin' Liquor Pigs
Friday started out with the early show at the Viking featuring the West Bank's fearless Front Porch Swingin' Liquor Pigs (who play the Viking every Friday from 6:30 to 9pm. The Liquor Pigs music is just plain fun to listen to. They say they never rehearse-Tim Bradach said, "yeah, we did one time with John Koerner, and that was AFTER our third show with him, to learn the chord changes."
The Liquor Pigs music is an amalgam of Americana music-their eclectic brand of music covers the spectrum from jug band, skiffle, roots music, blues, folk, country, a little Irish, and even bar-room rock. In fact they like to take irreverent shots at just about anyone and any musical style, played well and all done in good natured fun. And that's FUN with a capital F. With the "tip" pitcher taking up precious room on what has to be one of the smallest stages in the Twin Cities, the 7 and sometimes 8 member band are packed into the front corner of the bar (a space that would normally comfortably hold 2 people). Good luck even trying to see the drummer. And rubboard man Bradach, had his elbows hanging out the door onto Riverside Ave. But, hey, this is part of the charm of playing at the Viking on the West Bank. I can remember stopping in there back in the late 60's during my college days and seeing the same odd mixture of local misfits, hippies, college kids and you name it. Guess some things never change much-I think I even saw some of the same people 30 years older. A big thumbs up to the Viking for being with us all these years and the Liquor Pigs for the fun, nostalgic music.
Koerner, Ray and Glover
Next it was down the street to the old Cedar Theater (now renovated into an intimate concert hall with an excellent new sound system) to catch one of the few Koerner, Ray and Glover shows as a trio -- the Twin Cities own acoustic power trio. They normally play together twice a year, once here at the Cedar in the spring and once at First Avenue in December so its always a treat to catch these local folk/blues legends. I often get emails from envious people from around the world asking where they can see KR&G and commenting on how lucky we are here in the Twin Cities to be able to see them perform on a semi-regular basis. Unfortunately for KR&G they are affected by the "your own back yard syndrome" where some performers seem to be more appreciated when they perform anywhere else other than their own home town.
This particular show for some reason was missed by the local mainstream press and thus the only place it was advertised was in the monthly Cedar newspaper that goes out to their mailing list, on KFAI, our local community run radio station (where Joel Johnson had Dave Ray on his Thursday afternoon blues show) and here at Blues On Stage (and the Twin Cities Blues News).
These shows are always fun for both the music and the repartee between Ray, Glover and Koerner and with the audience-which keeps us all in stitches the whole night. Since this was the week leading up to Dylan's 60th birthday and Red House Records had just released their excellent Nod To Bob album featuring a cut by "Spider" John Koerner and Dave "Snaker" Ray, John had been getting calls all week from press from around the world wanting to know what John remembered of Dylan from those Dinky Town days back in the early 60's. Dave joked that John didn't remember much at all and at one point he called Dylan John's protégé who was copping his guitar licks. John said it was kind of strange (getting all these calls) since he has never sang a Dylan song and never will (the song on the Nod To Bob album, Delia, is an old folk song that Dylan covered on one of his albums. Dave added that Dylan really doesn't need their help at this stage, although he did back in the early 60's. They were taking some good natured pot shots at Bob the whole night as well as other current topics and social issues. This was all between playing their unique brand of obscure folk/blues tunes. These guys do an excellent job of preserving this slice of American and world folk music although they often give their own original take on the songs. Very fun evening that you just don't want to miss next time. Watch for the First Avenue show later this year.
In addition to these semi-annual KR&G shows you can also catch Ray and Glover as a duo every other Tuesday at Lee's Liquor Lounge with Koerner playing solo on the alternate Tuesdays. Ray, Glover and Koerner can also be seen playing around town on occasion with different groups and in other formats. So, yes indeed, we are extremely fortunate to be able to see and hear them on a fairly regular basis. Red House Records has also recently re-released their three early 1960's landmark albums: Blues, Rags & Hollers; Lots More Blues, Rags and Hollers; and The Return of Koerner, Ray & Glover. These albums cemented their place in folk/blues history and influenced more current day musicians that you can name. (Red House Records 1-800-695-4687).
Shakey Jake Neuman
After KR&G at the Cedar (which was an early show) I hopped over to the Whiskey Junction just down the street to see Shakey Jake Neuman. This 14 year old harmonica player (he just celebrated his birthday in May) has already been thrilling audiences with his high energy harp playing for several years around town. Although some of the excitement surrounding Jake is based on his age (we have had a few outstanding young blues performers hail from the Twin Cities area over the past decade), the audience soon realizes however, that he definitely CAN play the harmonica and tries his hardest to blow those reeds right out of the harp. Exciting to watch and listen to, Jake is in constant motion on stage, which is understandable for a kid his age. He is also rapidly gaining the confidence and experience of a first rate blues showman and musician. If you are already a fan you know what I am talking about. If you haven't seen him yet, do yourself a favor and catch one of his shows. He will be playing on the same evening with Joe. T. Cook at the Whiskey Junction, Saturday, June 9th. Website: http://www.shakeyjakeneuman.com
Tonight was another example of the remarkable music found in the Twin Cities every week -- and these three shows were all within a few blocks of each other on the West Bank (that bohemian community located on the west bank of the Mississippi River and the University of Minnesota).
This review is copyright © 2001 by Ray Stiles, 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.