Blues On Stage Logo

Best Buy Presents Heart & Soul
A Music Festival by Mick Sterling to benefit Camp Heartland
May 16 & 17, 1998 under the tent outside Bunker's
The following people helped write portions of this review or contributed ideas: Peter Meyer, Heather Stiles, Katie La Salle, Ame Colla, Stacy Stockhausen, Kristie Stiles and Bret Stiles. Tom Asp and Steve Felling contributed the photography. By the way, Heather Stiles, Katie La Salle and Ame Colla, who contributed articles for this review, are just 15 and 16 year old fans!

This review is in two parts. You can go to day two reviews by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.



Bernard Allison
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
What a monumental undertaking this event was. Over 700 volunteers, two outdoor stages, two days of music, and 24 bands featuring local talent and national stars. The weekend ran like clockwork thanks to the huge supporting cast and also because Mick Sterling, a musician himself, knew just what was needed to make this a huge success. The programs were even done up like the booklets found in a CD - very professional and very nice! The weather also cooperated most of the time with a light rain for a short time on Saturday and a healthy breeze that helped to keep things cool.

The highlight or most emotional moment on Saturday occurred during Bernard Allison's performance on the "Luther Allison Stage," (named in honor of his late father). When Bernard had finished delivering a dazzling display of blues guitar he jumped off the stage and was almost lost in the crowd as he continued to play. He made is way over to the side of the tent where photographer Tom Asp had a display of his 11x14 black and white photographs of blues artists. Bernard, without missing a beat, walked up to a picture of his father, kissed the tips of his fingers and lightly touched his father's photograph. This was a fleeting moment that happened so quickly we couldn't capture it with our cameras but it will be forever imprinted on our memories.



Mick Sterling
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
The most touching moment on Sunday occurred during Mick Sterling's set as he sang a very inspired and emotional "I'm Afraid" (from his CD "Nothing Less Than Everything") in tribute to the children afflicted with the HIV/AIDS virus who attend Camp Heartland. Prior to Mick's set he had a father up on stage with his young child who is living with the AIDS virus. Their brief story served as a reminder of the real reason for this event - a musical gathering to help raise money so children afflicted with HIV and their families could enjoy a normal summer camp environment. The great music was all about helping raise money for Camp Heartland which just found a permanent home in Willow River, Minnesota and will open for year round business this summer. Click here to see background article on the Heart & Soul benefit and Camp Heartland (also found in the April issue of the Twin Cities Blues News). Visit the Camp Heartland Web Page at: www.digital.com/info/camp.

The audience was still small as the event kicked off with young (12 year old) Fargo, ND phenomenon Shannon Curfman at 1 PM on Saturday afternoon. The crowd continued to grow over the two days culminating in a packed house as the event concluded at 9 PM on Sunday night with young (17 year old) Fargo, ND phenomenon Jonny Lang. He brought down the house and ignited the crowd raising the decibel level to an incredible height with thousands of screaming fans.

The set up for this music event was very well conceived. A huge tent was put up in the parking lot of Bunker's with two stages, one at each end so acts could alternate without having long breaks between sets. Similar to the Bayfront approach, this allows a continuous flow of music where the fans just have to turn around and make the short walk to the other end of the tent. Starting later in the day there was also music held on the indoor Bunker's stage.


Shannon Curfman
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Steve Felling
All rights reserved
Saturday, May 16th.
Shannon Curfman still lives in Fargo but makes the weekly trip to play at Bunker's every Tuesday where she swaps sets with Renee' Austin. She has a remarkably mature and sophisticated voice for someone her age (she will turn 13 this summer), singing material that ranged from semi pop to rich sounding soul. Her version of the Otis Redding song "Dreams To Remember" clinched it for me. Her powerful, sometimes-husky sounding vocals drive right to the heart of the song's meaning. Her guitar playing isn't too bad either. Curfman said, "It was really cool to meet a lot of my inspirations, and to catch up with other people that were playing there from Fargo, ND." I asked Shannon who some of those inspirations were and she said "Syl Johnson, Bernard Allison, Indigenous, Storyville, and Jon (Jonny Lang) is my biggest all around inspiration. He's from Fargo, like me." She has known Jonny and his family for about 3 and years and said "my parents are very supportive of me doing this, so after the first time we (saw) Jonny in concert they would bring me down to The Cities whenver they could to watch him play." She has been playing guitar since the age of 9 and singing all her life. "I started singing right when I found out what it was, so really, I guess, all of my life." It will be fun watching this young talent mature musically over the next few years.


John Eric Thiede
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles
All rights reserved

John Eric Thiede and the Jack Buzzards (eight pieces strong) up next on the Best Buy Stage, played an entertaining mixture of New Orleans jazz, swing and blues. Thiede, formerly of the Strawdogs, always has some humorous antics for us while on stage as well as one piercingly strong voice. Their version of the Jessie Hill classic "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" and the Dixieland standard "When the Saints Go Marching In" got the growing audience in the groove and some even up and dancing early in the afternoon.


Susan Tedeschi
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Susan Tedeschi (by Peter Meyer)
This was Susan Tedeschi's 4th appearance in the Twin Cities, and possibly her best. Touring to support her album "Just Won't Burn", Susan, worked the audience from a smolder to a raging inferno. With a voice somewhere between Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin, she sang the gamut from driving numbers like "Rock Me Right" to sultry ballads like "It Hurt So Bad." Tedeschi's touring band, although different than the one on her album, is incredibly tight. One consistent member is Sean Costello, a former student of Ronnie Earl. He is probably the perfect guitar player for this band. He locked in with the rhythm section while Susan sang and never played over the vocals. However, when it came time for his solo he exploded. The set ended with a rocking version of "I Got My Mojo Working". The audience demanded more and the band obliged with John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery". Click here for another review.





Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
The Big Wu, who have a strong local following (you can catch them every Wednesday at the Cabooze), delivered some raw and real R&B flavored rock. There was even some good slide guitar playing and a low-key approach to their performance that suited many of the fans that were sunning themselves just outside the tent. The early crowd was laid back and relaxed (like the Big Wu), had a great view of the stage and was soaking in both the music and the sun. This was definitely a great start to the outdoor summer music season in Minnesota.









G. B. Leighton
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
G. B. Leighton
(by Katie La Salle)
There was a strong sense of unity when GB Leighton performed next on the Luther Allison Memorial Stage. The crowd became each other's best friends as they danced and sang along to the familiar tunes. GB Leighton writes strongly positive tunes using every band member's talent to it's fullest potential. The band has strong relationships with their fans, this makes all GB Leighton's shows nothing but fun. It's obvious that the whole band loves the music that they are playing. They focused their hearts into it and emitted a sound that brightened the room. They played a mix of old favorites with some newer songs, and even threw in a song by the Hoopsnakes! Their songs are all fun to listen, sing, and dance to, and they have a lot of loyal fans because of that. Their songs had energy gushing from each note and for 45 minutes everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.


Syl Johnson
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Syl Johnson (by Peter Meyer)
Syl Johnson's set started late, apparently the promoters wanted to increase the yearning of the audience to see one of the blues legends (actually his bus was late). When the band did arrive they wasted no time getting the audience dancing. The band opened with a funk groove song, "Play Me Some Blues" sung by the bass player who encouraged the audience to sing along. During the second song the band brought up their leader, whose guitar playing eloquently spoke, saying, "I'm here." The following song was Syl's hit from the sixties "Take Me To The River." That song set the mood for the rest of his set which was bold and unforgettable. Click here for another review.







Bernard Allison
Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Bernard Allison has a scorching guitar style that rocks out the blues but he is also capable of playing down home, gut-bucket blues and a mean slide guitar. He played one of his dad's songs "Midnight Creeper" that was fitting tribute to the memory of his dad's music. He also played many of the songs from his Cannonball Records release "Keepin' The Blues Alive." Tom Hunter, now on keyboards with the band, brought an energy level that matches Allison's blistering guitar style. Bernard always has such an engaging smile and lively stage presence that lights up any room he enters and makes his shows so much fun to watch. And as I said at the start of this article, there was a very moving moment when he walked by his dad's picture while playing his guitar, reached out and touched the picture, and then continued on -- that was something to see!


Heart & Soul, 5/16/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
The Radiators (by Stacy Stockhausen)
The New Orleans based band The Radiators are the masters of groove. Over the past twenty years the Radiators had developed their own style and a hard core group of fans better known as "Fish Heads." (Don't ask why, it's a long strange story.) The Radiators, or the Rads for short, consist of Ed Volker on vocals and keys, Dave Malone on guitar and vocals, Camile Baudoin on guitar and vocals, Reggie Scanlan on bass and Frank Bua on drums. The Rads headlined Saturday night's benefit. By the time the Rads took the stage, the crowd was warmed up and ready to party. With no introduction the band started with a groovy instrumental that set the pace for the rest of the evening. By the time the band got to their third song they had the warm, sweaty crowd hooked into their groove. One of the things that I love about the Radiators is their unassuming stage presence. They are not rock-n-rollers, they are not flashy, but they lay out the most contagious groove I've ever heard. The other thing that sets the Radiators apart is the way they connect to the audience. They capture the listener's attention and transport them into another world by creating this hypnotic groove that gets everyone dancing. Towards the end of the evening, guitarist/vocalist Dave Malone made the understatement of the day, when he started out a song by saying, "Let's Dance!" The night ended with a one-song encore and dance frenzy. The Rads are masters of groove.

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

Table of Contents:
[Home Page] [Message Board] [Calendar]
[Blues Musicians] [Blues Clubs] [Blues Jams]
[New Reviews] [Live Reviews & Interviews] [CD Reviews] [Record Labels]
[Jukebox] [Photo Gallery] [Memorial] [Blues Profiles] [Blues Links]
[Site Description & Updates] [Site Awards] [Spotlight Archives]
[Member Directory] [Featured Website] [Website Design & Hosting]

Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.