It's been nearly 40 years since I first laid eyes on the bouncing figure in dark shades blowing the harmonica who I thought, at the time, was "Lamont Cranston" or "the Shadow" or at least I thought he went by that pseudonym. I first saw the Lamont Cranston blues band at the Cabooze in 1970, just a year after they formed and when they were making a name for themselves on the West Bank.
It turns out the leader of the band was Pat Hayes and the band's name came from the old radio show, "The Shadow." I had forgotten just how the band's name came about so I asked Rico Anderson, long time friend of Pat and Lamont manager. Rico said, "It was from an old West Bank friend who was into comic books and old radio shows. The band was doing one of its first shows and someone asked what name to introduce them as… they said they didn't have one. The buddy said 'what about Lamont Cranston?', after The Shadow's alter ego Detective Lamont Cranston. Bingo, or so the folklore goes."
I didn't think to ask Pat or Bob Bingham last night about it so thank you Rico for the input.
Seeing Pat's joy in playing and the fun he seems to be having on stage, especially when he is watching a band member or guest player strutting their stuff, is infectious and reminds me of the fun Brett Farve has on the football field. At one point Pat turned around to admire the large paintings of famous blues greats hanging on the wall behind him and just smiled.
I was also thinking that Pat reminded me of an old college fraternity brother of mine when I turned around and low and behold, there he stood, my old frat brother, Chamby.
Chamby was one of the college buddies I would hang out with on the West Bank listening to music in the late 60's and early 70's. I mentioned first seeing Lamont at the Cabooze and Chamby said he remembers seeing Lamont on Fridays and Willie and the Bees on Saturdays at the Triangle. That led to our reminiscing about how we would always end up at the Viking Bar where we would inevitably see this "stoned out" freak with long white hair zipping through the bar every time we were there. We got to be calling him "speedy" and the name sure fit. We could only wonder whatever happened to him. Anyways, seeing Chamby at the show and Pat up on stage brought back some good ol' memories on the West Bank 40 years ago.
Pat's new band, of about 6 months, consists of Rod Smith on guitar, Jason Kotecki on drums, Brad Pelkey on bass, Brian Risling on sax and Pat Hayes on guitar, harmonica and vocals.
Playing songs from their past albums the band served up a spicy (Famous Dave's) meal of rocking blues, Chicago shuffles, Albert King inspired guitar playing (Cross Cut Saw), some "Wild Women" and "Honey Bee" slide, some south side harmonica (Messin' with the Kid), as well as some R&B and rock and roll surprises. Fat's Domino's Hello Josephine, Clarence Carter's Slip Away, and one of my all time favorite Sam Cooke songs, Bring It On Home.
During the second set Pat had a number of guests sit in, including Paul Wiggins on keyboards and Bob Bingham on guitar (and another guitar player by the name of Mark Raskob I think). Bingham used to play with Lamont in the early days and for the past decade has been playing with Gordon Thorne as part of an acoustic duo. Bob and Gordon just finished up a number of shows here in the Twin Cities and Bob is heading to his winter home in Florida before returning next spring to Northern Minnesota where he spends the rest of the year.
It was a fun evening of blues with a near standing room only crowd at showtime that remained strong throughout the night.
Go to this link for past show reviews and interviews with Pat Hayes, Rico Anderson and others.
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