The Dinosaur Bar B-Que is possibly one of the most thorough and efficient of Blues clubs. We arrived by special taxi at 10 pm after running around the back streets of Syracuse for half an hour trying to find the Holiday Inn (lets just say the red arrow on the map on the Holiday Inn’s web site points to a very interesting neighborhood, where aluminum row houses and white shiny cadillacs intermix) and as a result of their web masters misplaced arrow, they ordered a special long white taxi for us, to the show. At ten o’clock chairs and tables were still sitting on the stage, and two kitchen hands came out and promptly moved them to the back room so Ana’s three piece band, carrying their own stuff, could set up their drums and bass.
People were still lined up for ribs and wings on this joyous Tuesday night. The bar was three deep and a gentleman who let me up to order a drink or two, soon complained that I was taking up his real estate, as I waited for my second attempt at a credit card to go through, when I found they would not accept Canadian money. The second credit card and an ABM machine beside the stage were a blessing. The ribs were to die for, service par excellent, and then the music, and the frozen Margaritas, a fait accompli.
Ana began the night with the same set line up that she had used three years ago when I had first seen her at the Ottawa Blues Festival, and I marveled at the tightness of the band, which had been performing almost constantly, mostly in Europe, for this whole time. The drummer’s arms were thick and he preparedly wore gloves for his solos. The bass player looked tired and ragged, but grinned gamely and kept the whole show on cue, like a clock, marking time, feeling the groove and going with it. At one point in the show he chose to kneel down smiling, out of exhaustion at keeping up with Ana’s energy and pace.
Ana was incredible. Dressed to kill in low slung tight fitting jeans, mid rif showing to the delight of the meat eaters in the room, snake skin high heels, and matching snake skin guitar strap. It may have taken her three songs to really feel her best. I think she was first overwhelmed by the show of support of the mostly middle aged men who swarmed the stage like teenagers to get a glimpse of her beauty and all smiled in unison when she let loose with a guitar solo and then moved closer to her, until the stage at one point consisted of such raw emotion that the whistling at the end of a song caused the drummer to cover his ears.
She completed Jimi Hendrix covers that Jimi would have liked, but mostly a retinue off her three albums of original music. Ana appears on a Ruf Records Hendrix compilation that should be a mainstay for any Blues/ Hendrix fan. She spoke of her homeland in Yugoslavia between songs, and of her dad and his song book, of old Mississippi groovsters and Blues men who had been her initiation into the genre.
Rockin until two in the morning. Between sets practically every gentleman in the house lined up to have a quick chat with this gorgeous musician and buy a DVD or Cd. She was most gracious and appreciative, and barely had time to go back stage and dry off for the next set. Knowing what the crowd wanted, guitar, and more guitar, more of that Ana wall of sound, that was generously accented by the serious rhythmic power of her two able accompanists, and leading with authority and vigor she delivered.
At one point in the show, around 1:30 in the morning, she got down on her knees and suggested all the men do the same. About 100 middle aged men knelt down lovingly, longingly, at her feet as she at first giggled joyfully at her own persuasive abilities, and then rocked and rattled our bones until we could take it no more. But like middle aged men, yes, we wanted more. And what she had she gave, generously, on one great night at the Dinosaur.
Danny Murray is a big Ana fan, and his interview and Cd review of her original Cd and exclusive photographs can be found on the Blues On Stage web site (www.mnblues.com)0