Operated by Marti and Mike Nunn, Second Wind Retreat is the perfect getaway for individuals affected by cancer. Located in the scenic Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia, people are able to get away from the sterile like environments of doctor offices and hospital rooms. There is plenty of woods to hike through, horses to ride and a big enough pond to fish from. The house that people stay in has a nice front porch to relax on and view the Blue Ridge Mountains in tranquility and peace.
This is also a non-profit organization that needs fundraisers and donations to keep it going. And you couldn't go wrong with Blues-Fest 2009 held at Zuffy's Place in Atlanta, GA on October 4, 2009.
Any fundraiser needs a strong juggernaut of volunteers and media people to get it going. Blues Fest 2009 had all of that. Mark Pucci of Pucci Media acted more or less as MC. Between announcing acts and extolling Second Wind's virtues, he got the message out loud and clear. Dirty South Productions were seen in the audience filming the event. President Marti Nunn got up to talk about her personal experiences with this disease. So did other patients who had recent stays at this facility.
Bassist Rocky Buldo of Men In Blues volunteered his time in setting and tearing down equipment between sets. Rocky's diligence and hard work helped behind the scenes and made this festival come off like clockwork.
And the silent auction offered many delicious goodies. There was a 1989 customized Fender Stratocaster guitar signed by a variety of musicians ranging from Sheryl Crow to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ed King. Any guitarist looking to add more tools to his workshop would have been smart to bid on a 1974 Traynor Mark II All Tube Amp Head and Peavy Cabinet with vintage 4x12 speakers.
All of these things were the perfect backdrop to sets of music that were energetic and built to some sort of apex.
Opening act Liz Brown was a terrific lead-off. Her cigar box diddley-bow gave songs a dust-bowl scent and a Creedence touch. Bonnie Raitt would be proud to have Liz open for her. Brown blues belted her way through Etta James' "Tell Mama" and turned a few heads with her take on the Grateful Dead's "New Speedway Boogie" which came off like blues and not hippie rock.
Guitarist Nick Edelstein provided a shredariffic outlook with a touch of Steve Vai. But Nick still was able to find those notes of blues. "Hound Dog" was punched up with rock and slabs of wah-wah. Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign" just erupted due to the bassist and drummer jamming like family.
Men In Blues came on next and it was like Chicago Blues meeting Pink Floyd. Their renditions of "CC Ryder" and "Shake Your Moneymaker" got some patrons in shaking their tailbones. Even Liz Brown couldn't resist going up onstage and contributing vocals to several numbers. And sometimes the jamming went into the red zone but found its way home again. Session musician and Hammond B-3 master Ike Stubblefield came up and fitted in nicely when adding his touch with Greg Allman love.
Just when you thought that power trios were a thing of the past, The Joe Pitts Band came up and honored original Govt Mule, Duane Allman and Led Zeppelin. Pitts' slide work and searing Les Paul lines smoldered in "Dazed and Confused" and crooned in "Loan Me A Dime." He spoke Leslie West chording in his own "Blue Light Rain." Sitting in on drums and guitar was Italy natives Roberto Tassone and Eliana Cargnelutti. Ana Popovic better watch out because Cargnelutti proved herself as a serious up and coming six string mistress.
The apex which I mentioned earlier was in the jam session. Drummer Yonrico Scott who has a full time gig with the Derek Trucks Band, commanded the drumseat while an allstar cast of players went off and on the stage. Diane Durrett lent her blue-eyed soul vocals to "Rock Me Baby." Guitarist Pete Stroud, who works with Sheryl Crow, did admirably in going toe to toe with guitar-god Barry Richman in cosmic jamming. Ike Stubblefield found his way in the mix with soulful Hammond runs. Just go to You Tube and you can pull up clips of a session that should be sold as a bootleg. Think Allman Brothers meeting the Grateful Dead on steroids.
Blues fans not attending this missed out big time. Fifteen dollars is a small price to pay for contributing to a good cause. But you got to hear an array of talent that doesn't cross your threshold too often. Mike and Marti Nunn are always upping the ante on these things. It's a train to catch now heading for bigger venues.
Link to additional pictures.