Blues Guitar Masters Series
@ Whiskey Junction, April 7, 1997

What a wonderful showcase of Twin Cities Blues guitar talent! Where else could you go and see 9 outstanding blues guitar players from 8 different bands all on one night, with no cover charge?

Mic McCormick of Scooter Trash kicked off the 7th annual Blues Guitar series held at the Whiskey Junction with the Eddy Clearwater song Blue, Blue and for the next 5 hours we were treated to 9 half hour sessions of sizzling guitar playing. Mic plays his outstanding style of blues guitar left- handed and upside down like Otis Rush and Albert King and spent 20 years with the legendary Minnesota Barking Ducks before forming his current band Scooter Trash.

Joel Johnson of the Joel Johnson Band took over at 9 and served up some nice 12 bar blues while trading lead licks with fellow band member John Franken. Joel added some tasteful vocals to his guitar playing as John Franken stepped forward for his set with a slow blues and some tasteful lead guitar playing on Cold Cold Feeling. Jeremy Johnson joined the set while in progress for some nice jamming with John.

Pete Kavanaugh of Zookeeper (formerly with the GB Leighton band) took the stage at 10 with an energetic rendition of Crossroads. Pete is a very animated player and sure seemed pumped for this show (he said he had too much coffee). He followed with Cross Cut Saw and had some wild slide playing on his final number.

Steve Morgan, a local guitar teacher and player with Tongue and Groove on Wednesdays at Whiskey Junction, played loud and fast with some very good electric rock/blues guitar. Part of the Lamont Cranston horn section joined his set. This was another nice feature of this evening's music - different musicians would sit in on the different sets and we were treated to great blues music that we don't often get a chance to hear.

Scotty Graves of Big Walter Smith & the Groove Merchants started off solo with some very nice acoustic delta slide guitar on his national steel. He did Robert Johnson's Come On In My Kitchen. After being joined by the band we were treated with some great blues guitar playing on songs by Muddy Waters, Freddie King, BB King and Albert Collins. Big Walter Smith with his natural blues voice joined in for the final 2 numbers. Scotty's blues guitar playing is always a treat to listen to.

When Ted Larsen of the Big Bang took his place on stage the place was packed and the dance floor was jumping. Chuck Solberg of Lamont Cranston joined the Big Bang on piano. Ted plays some of the cleanest blues guitar around and has such a delicate touch that is so appealing to listen to.

Pat Hayes of Lamont Cranston was next and put on such a remarkable display of guitar playing that you almost forgot he is primarily known as one of the finest harmonica players in town. He has so much energy while performing, especially with that trademark bounce of his (and don't forget the shades). Ted Larsen stayed on stage during Pat's set and boy was it fun to watch those two trade guitar licks. Wow! The place was burning up by this time.

Jeremy Johnson of RJ Mischo & His Red Hot Blues Band closed out the evening. He was joined by Billy Black on bass, Slim on Drums and had RJ joining in for a few harp numbers. Jeremy plays some great rhythm and lead guitar -- all at the same time it seems and has a sound and style that always keeps your attention. At the end of his set Ted Larsen came back on stage for some energetic, impromptu jamming with Jeremy.
Hats off to the Whiskey Junction for hosting this great blues series and promoting the outstanding blues talent of the Twin Cities. Keep an eye out for the other featured series with harmonica, piano and blues vocals.

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Copyright © 1997 by Ray M. Stiles
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