Ya know, I like to think I'm fairly hip when it comes to the local music scene. But...it aint too hip to fess up to this fact... I have never spent an evening listening to one of our local blues legends...The Lamont Cranston Blues Band. My wife suggested we hit a casino for New Years eve. I checked out the entertainment thing and...Lamont Cranston...at The Grand Casino, Hinkley, News Eve...lets do it !!
At 8:45PM, the Line outside the closed doors of the ballroom is stating to build for the scheduled 9:30PM show. The couple in line in front of me, Lori and Sean, have driven down from Duluth. They catch Lamont Cranston at the Bayfront Blues festival every summer and now are getting restless for these festivities to begin. About every five minutes or so, some one in the ever growing crowd / line chants "Let us in, Let us in". A few people are joining this chant, but it is not going too far. At 9:30 sharp...the ballroom doors swings open...the line brakes...everyone pours in and grabs a table...it makes me think of the ocean gushing in on the Titantic. By the time I get in and secure my table (about 10 seconds tops) Pat Hayes has his shades on and the band is already pumping with "Rock This Joint Tonight" (?)...the first couple is cutting up the dance floor !! The mood is definitely PARTY TIME !! Song number two is a kicking version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" followed by "Route 66" (Rolling Stones fashon)...I can not stand this ...I'm heading for the already overflowing dance floor with my sister-in-law. Yes...this crowd is here to dance !! Next Pat Hayes and the boys brake loose with a blistering blues - B.B. King's "Sweet Little Angle" and Hayes demonstrates, on lead guitar, why this band has the reputation it deserves. YEEKS !! The sound system is acting up and we have only 50% audio...this must be remedied quickly...and it is, with only a five minute down time. No big deal and the band plays on. It's now just before 11:00PM...The first set is ending...I don't see any one heading for the door...cool.
On New Years Eve, 2000, The Lamont Cranston Blues Band is: Pat Hayes (guitar / harmonica / vocals)...Jim Novak (drums)...Dale Peterson (keyboards)...Michael Carvale (bass)...Ted Larsen (guitar)...Rick O'Dell (saxophone)...Jim Greenwell (saxophone)...Larry McDonald (saxophone). With thirteen albums under their belt... AND having shared the stage with the likes of Bonnie Raitt / The Rolling Stones / Charles Brown / Delbert McClinton / Stevie Ray Vaughn / Albert King / Muddy Waters / Luther Allison... AND opening the new House Of Blues in Chicago (Nov.1996)...AND being the recipients of the POP (Perpetual Outstanding Performer) award at the Minnesota Music Awards... AND Minnesota Music Hall Of Fame (New Ulm) inductees... AND honored with their own 'Lamont Cranston Day', Jan. 30 1999, via Norm Coleman... this 30+year old band / local Blues icon has seen it... done it... and owns the T-shirt !!
GET READY FOR PART TWO !! It's 11:20PM, with only forty minutes left until the midnight hour, the band takes the stage with a driving rendition of Muddy Water's "Got My Mojo Working". The dance floor fills / overflows onto the carpet. (I notice that Pat Hayes is concentrating on his harp more than the guitar in this set ). It's 11:30PM and the song is "Roll With Me Baby" (?)... only one half hour to go. At 11:40PM , Mr. bass man Carvale is doing a funky solo on a James Brown wanna-be tune...twenty minutes to go. It's hard to write when what I really want to do is dance...wait a minute here...
Three ladies are taking the stage and are introduced as the Tipsie-Chicks. The three females, Cindy McNamara, Phyllis Rutter and Jenny Thom are adding a touch of 'soul' to the music...very nice !! The last song I'm hearing in the year 2000 is "Mustang Sally"...and now It's count down time. There's a giant TV screen in the corner with the happenings from Time Square. HAPPY and BLESSED NEW YEAR !! "Auld Lang Syne" with Lamont Cranston...Year 2000 / 2001...how cool is this ??
It's only fitting that the boys start the new year with "Upper Mississippi Shake Down". Thanks to The Lamont Cranston Blues Band, the Tipsie Chicks and the Grand Casino / Hinkley for an excellent and FREE intro. into the year 2001...Just a suggestion... because this band is local, please don't take them (or any of our great local blues people) for granted. Get out there and support them...buy their merchandise...I waited too long to spend and evening with The Lamont Cranston Blues Band.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Al Rohweder, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.