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The Lamont Cranston Blues Band
New Year's Eve Blues Bash II
@ Grand Opera House, Oshkosh, WI 12/31/98
2 different reviews by Tim Whitcomb and Mike Bros & Tina Griffith
picture of Pat Hayes & Sam Lay
Pat "Lamont" Hayes & Sam Lay
Photo 1998 All rights reserved



My justification for bringing some old friends to a blues bash was just about over, when we walked into the early 1900's style, quaint, acoustically superb Grand Opera House and were escorted to our VIP seats in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on New Year's Eve.

Even the bus ride, which was also organized by Rico Anderson, the band's manager, was fun and relaxing. The bus was a 54 seater, very comfortable and roomy for not only us, but for a number of the band members as well.

After checking into our hotel, the bus delivered us to the show. We settled into our VIP seats at the "Grand" and watched Jimmy Liban play his harp and his band perform. We knew he must be good, and he was. "Lamont" had actually recorded some of Liban's songs. After Liban, we saw the Sam Lay Blues Band from Chicago. Sam Lay is laced with quite a resume as a drummer, playing with Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan and Paul Butterfield to name a few. Lay's blues band was excellent, and a bit unique with the leader of the band being the drummer. Lay had a special crowd pleasing guest, Little Smokey Smothers, and his BB King style guitar.

It was shortly after midnight when the curtains went up and Lamont took the stage. Hayes, complete with his seven piece band, a big smile, shades and two-tone shoes had the crowd rockin' and the dance floor full. He played some of their songs from the newest CD; "Hold On", "Play The Blues", in addition to some old favorites like "Upper Mississippi Shakedown" and the signature "E-Jam" for the encore.

The next morning we boarded the bus after a darn good bloody mary and an Advil. My old friends sat down and said thanks a lot for inviting us. It's been awhile since we had seen Lamont and you know, I guess Dan Aykroyd is still right when he said "No one infects venues with the party virus quite like Pat Hayes and The Lamont Cranston Blues Band. They have always been my favorite."

Review by Tim Whitcomb


New Year's Eve had to be special, had to be memorable, had to be the best, but what? Where to go? What to do? We hit the jackpot.

The 2nd annual New Year's Eve Blues Bash honoring the 30th anniversary of Pat Hayes & The Lamont Cranston Blues Band.

We left Minneapolis Thursday morning aboard a comfortable motorcoach, amongst a number of fans and several members of the band, heading for Oshkosh, Wisconsin. During the trip, we met some great people, shared some libations and prepared ourselves for a evening we won't soon forget.

It took place at the historic Grand Opera House, the perfect place for an evening of the finest blues. It started out with the Jim Liban Blues Combo (Milwaukee harpmaster), who set the mood and got us warmed up for more. Following Jim, the Sam Lay Blues Band took over, adding to the building of energy. Extra attractions, Milwaukee Slim, Billy Branch and Little Smokey Smothers just added to the great blues music we were being treated to. Then, came the moment we were all waiting for, midnight.

With noisemakers coming from every part of the room, the countdown began, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year! After an acapella verse of Auld Lang Syne, Pat Hayes & The Lamont Cranston Blues Band brought us into the new year with the energy and style only they have.

Talk about music for the soul, nobody does it like Lamont. We were treated to almost 2 1/2 hours of the best Blues and R&B music in the country. We were honored to be a part of their first appearance of their 30th anniversary year, and looking forward to their 31st. Look for us, we're in the front row, see you there!

Review by Mike Bros & Tina Griffith

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