We in the Twin Cities are blessed with a talented group of blues players, able to step in at a moment's notice. This became very apparent again Saturday night when the headliners did not show and a 911 call went out at the last minute to put together a band to entertain the full house waiting for some hot blues at Famous Dave's. Within an hour Moses Oakland, his bass player Poppa D., drummer Michael "Taco" Velasquez, and Hammond B-3 player Billy Holloman answered the call and provided the music. Dubbed The Last Minute Blues Band, they proceeded to provide some excellent blues, getting the crowd up and dancing and into the music. While some in the crowd were disappointed about missing Carey Bell and Smokey Smothers, you have to give these solid local players credit for their ability to step in and entertain the crowd at the last minute.
Moses kicked things off right away with his stinging, growling guitar licks and gruff, passionate vocals. Bass player Poppa D. added his smooth vocals and solid, funky bass. B-3 player Billy Holloman provided some great organ sounds to add to the energy and richness of the sound. And Taco on drums kept things moving along with his solid beat and energy. Moses did an enthusiastic, energetic "Red Rooster" and a couple of other songs, including walking through the crowd playing his guitar, stopping by tables of fans to play up close and personal. Then they got Big John Dickerson up to sing. Big John, showing up to see his old friend Carey Bell, had no idea he was going to be part of the night's entertainment. But like the other musicians, he's already to go when called upon. He gave the crowd strong, husky, raspy vocals on "Every Day I Have the Blues" and wowed them with a great version of "My Girl," filling the crowded dance floor with enthusiastic dancers.
Those of us that have followed music and the blues know that things can come up with van breakdowns, bad weather, musicians getting sick, and who knows what else to keep bands and artists from making shows. That's life, and that's the blues, too. Sometimes you just have to accept it and enjoy yourself. The energy, enthusiasm, and talent The Last Minute Blues Band showed made things a lot easier. You have to keep your sense of humor, as Moses did. He commented at the start of their second set that when Music Director Pau Metsa called at 8:25 PM to see if he could put a band together as soon as possible to play that night, it was his fondest wish if Paul ever called again like that to be able to say, "Sorry, I can't help you out, I'm on my way to a gig." In the end, the local band had a full, enthusiastic house hungry for some blues that responded well to the music.
You can catch the Moses Oakland Quartet leading the blues jam every Sunday night at Famous Dave's and at other venues around town. Billy Holloman regularly wows the crowd with his terrific B-3 playing at Arnellia's in St. Paul. Taco is the regular drummer for James Solberg, who has been visiting the Twin Cities more often to play. And Big John Dickerson can be seen and heard regularly at his gigs in the area. Be sure to get out and support these and the many other great local blues players that we are fortunate to have call the Twin Cities home.
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