Lamont Cranston Blues Band
@ Whiskey Junction, September 20, 1997 &
@ Bunkers, October 18, 1997

Pat Hayes
10/18/97 - Bunkers
Photo 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
The west bank was alive and jumping during Lamont Cranston's "Roll With Me" CD release party (see CD review in October TCBN). But then that's the case at any Lamont Cranston show. For the past 28 years Pat Hayes and company have helped audiences in the Twin Cities and around the country put on their "boogie" shoes and have a party. The show started, as it often does, with Chuck Solberg's fingers rolling over the keyboard pounding out some great boogie woogie piano. He's the type of player you could easily spend the whole night listening to.

After the first number Pat strolls on stage wearing his trademark shades and launches into an energetic harmonica solo accompanied by his distinctive bounce and that great sound. The crowd is already feeling the energy and is up and dancing from the opening number. This was a party atmosphere that lasted for the entire evening. Pat Hayes always blows his harmonica with so much energy and enthusiasm. He sucks his fans right in with him so everyone is sharing in the fun and energy of the music. This is the type of infectious high octane blues that gets your foot tapping and body moving, as if being controlled by invisible strings. The band's music is a jump blues firmly founded in the classic Chicago blues tradition with Pat's strong harmonica playing displaying a rich tone and note bending technique that has inspired many harp players over the years and brought lots of enjoyment to those of us who have listened to him play. In fact I have a very vivid memory of one of my first blues shows. It was at the Cabooze back in the early 1970's when a group of college buddies and I found ourselves dumbfounded as we watched this wild man up on stage playing harmonica with such reckless abandon. I was hooked for life right there.

The second set at this show started out again with Chuck Solberg on barrel house piano as the band launched into "Upper Mississippi Shakedown" a song co-written by Bruce McCabe and a favorite of the fans. Pat started playing some guitar and broke a string so he went back to the harp. That was all right because his harp is so nice to listen to but then again wait until you hear him play the guitar - so much feeling, soul and energy. The third set was all Pat Hayes on Guitar. A guitar that he attacks with a vengeance and the sparks were sure flying when he hit the strings this night at the Whiskey.

Renee' Austin
9/20/97 - Whhiskey Junction
Photo 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
We also had a special treat at this show. Renee Austin, who was a guest performer on the new CD "Roll With Me," joined Pat and the band on stage for several songs. Pat brought her up but forgot to mention her name, assuming I guess, that everyone knew who she was...which they did. They sang a rousing rendition of "Hold On" from the new CD and hammed it up with some visually amusing give and take. Renee and Pat sang one more song, "Lonely Road" from her new CD "Dancin' With Mr. Blue."

Solberg was not at the Bunkers show so without the keyboards the band made some adjustments by playing songs that didn't rely on arrangements needing the piano - more guitars, saxophone and harp. Larry Hayes was in good form on second guitar and he was trading some nice licks with brother Pat, our own "Blues Brother." The rhythm section was handled by Jeff Rogers on drums and Michael Carvale on bass. Duo saxophones were sounding great with Jim Greenwell and Larry McDonald.

At both shows the band performed many of the songs from their new CD "Roll With Me." "What A Party" is one of those songs that has a great hook and once it gets into your head its hard to stop the replay. "Wild Wild Woman" is a delightful song with different chord progressions on each verse. Pat's guitar solo on "Sweet Sixteen" was a crowd stopper (that's where anyone who is dancing just stops in their tracks to watch the display going on up on stage)! This was followed by a funky James Brown number with the "mouth popping" sounds and all. The band pulled out some old songs from the Lamont Cranston songbook like "Upper Mississippi Shakedown" and "Route 66" to the delight of the fans. During the third set the band played some numbers we don't normally get to hear because of the makeup of the band that night. Pat had a great Elmore James sounding introduction to the song "Crossroads." Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man" was done with a jump blues flavor and Freddie King's great "See See Baby" was pure fun to listen to. It was done a little faster than the original but otherwise was right on the money. There was also an old Magic Sam number at the end, and like every Lamont Cranston show I have been to the music left us in elated spirits.

Question: "What's 'almost' as much fun as attending a Lamont Cranston show?"
Answer: "Listening to Pat 'Lamont' Hayes tell stories from his nearly 30 years in the blues business."

Pat Hayes
10/18/97 - Bunkers
Photo 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Pat Hayes is a walking blues history lesson and listening to him tell stories between sets was almost as much fun as watching him perform on stage. Hayes has shared the bill with a "who's who" of modern day blues giants over the years and he seems to remember everything from those experiences. I found out that the original Lamont Cranston Blues Band performed their first paying gig in 1969 - earning a whopping $50. For the whole band!

Pat told an amusing story about the time he got a call from the promoter of the Rolling Stones tour who wanted them to open for the Stones in St. Louis that "same" night. The Stray Cats backed out at the last minute wanting more money and thought the promoter wouldn't be able to get anyone to replace them on such short notice. Pat had gigs at the Cabooze that weekend and started calling the band to get them all together. When he called his band, they didn't believe him. "Sure Pat, yeah right, we're opening for the Stones, call me back when you're feeling better," was the type of response he got with every call. Finally, after repeated attempts he got them to believe him and they made it to the airport and the gig barely on time. This was the night after a gigantic snow storm which left several feet of snow on the ground so their gear didn't make the trip. The Stones, always good sports, just said go ahead and use our stuff. Pat said it was top of the line equipment and sooooo nice to play on compared to what they had at the time.

Pat related another story about Muddy Waters. This was after a Muddy Waters show at the River Serpent where Lamont Cranston had played on the same bill. Later that night Pat happened to be up on a balcony overlooking the parking lot with a huge full moon lighting up the late night sky. Muddy was down below in the parking lot with a few of the members of his band and thinking they were all alone, Waters looked up at that full moon and let out a tremendous howl that sent chills up Pat's spine. He said that was such a vivid image that he will never forget it.

Here's my final question: "Where are you spending New Year's Eve?"
This year the band is throwing their own New Year's Eve bash at the historic Grand Opera House in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Built in the 1800's this beautiful building has a remarkable history serving as home to many of the touring vaudeville acts and world famous touring operas. Houdini would rent the hall for months at a time to practice his legendary escape routines. The secret escape hatch trap door that Houdini made is still on stage. I wonder who will disappear New Year's Eve? The band is renting a bus and you can even rent a room if you want to stay the night. Sounds like a great idea and a lot of fun.

For more information call Rico Entertainment (612) 477-6729.
You can e-mail the band at: and visit their web site at:

E-mail gif Ray Stiles at:

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Copyright 1997 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.