An early show was what the members of the Chippewa Valley Blues Society (CVBS) said they wanted. A 6:00 PM Sunday show in the fall when the temperatures less than 40 degrees and the Packers on a bye week should have been good enough but the turnout was relatively poor at the Westgate Sportsman Club on Sunday, October 11 in Eau Claire. For the crowd of less than 100 people that did show up, there was some blues going down.
The CVBS invited Geneva Red and the Roadsters to headline their fundraiser. Howard “Guitar” Luedtke opened with a solo act to his home town crowd. Howard was later invited to come up and play a few songs with the Roadsters and the crowd was honored with the dueling guitars of Howard and the Roadster’s regular guitar picking of Jackie “Five and Dime” Wolworth.
The small informal crowd shared many interactions with the star Geneva Red. The tall slender redhead crooned the crowd with her harmonica like no other. Often she encouraged the crowd to take part in the song by keeping time. But her interaction with the crowd didn’t stop there. During short breaks while the host gave away door prizes, Red encouraged the crowd to get into the purpose of the party - fundraising. She even succeeded at upping the value of an auctioned poster for the event, first by offering all of the bands autographs and then in the same auction offering to lie on the floor and sing in front of the winning bidder. A poster that seemed to be going for under $50 quickly went up to the winning price of $150.
At times it seemed that Geneva Red couldn’t stand the fact that the dance floor was empty. For a couple of songs she and her famous bass player, “Snapper” Mitchum (of Son Seals Band) danced for the crowd while carrying out their parts of the songs. Geneva even stood on a chair in the audience and sang a verse to an inspired crowd as Jeff Werckle kept the band solid with his beat on the drums.
Geneva Red and the Roadsters played many of the old blues standards that Red has learned from some of the oldest and greatest. Jimmy Johnson who recently celebrated 50 years in the music business has been a long time mentor for Geneva Red and she showed her respects to him and several other legends like Sam Carr, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and many others.
The early show allowed plenty of time for autographs after the show. I got my sweet nothings both in written and oral verse and I’ve got a great new blues band in my iTunes library with Geneva’s Red and the Roadster’s latest, Gettin' Cocky. No one needs to convince me to go see Red again. The lovely Geneva Red will be carrying on the tradition with remarkable style for quite some time.