Mill City Music Festival
Day Three - Monday, September 1, 1997
Warehouse District, Mpls., MN August 30 to September 1, 1997

Senders, Slim Dunlap, Otis Day and the Knights, Magic Dick and Jay Geils, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Shirley King.

Mill City Music Festival 1997
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
I stopped by the Senders set on the way to the Fine Line stage and caught the smooth jazzy singing of Carmen Michelle who along with the band were delivering their brand of up tempo jump blues and cool jazz. They did a great Johnny Mercer "I Wanna To Be Around" that was, as "Cool Breeze" said, worth the price of admission, with some super solo's on piano and trombone.

Slim Dunlap was inside at the Fine Line stage putting on a remarkable solo acoustic show of roots rock, folk and blues. This was very good music!

Otis Day
Mill City Music Festival
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Otis Day and the Knights were up next outside at the Best Buy stage. This was another one those highlights from the weekend. The band featured some outstanding guitar playing by both guitar players - expressive guitar that was smokin'. This was "party time" music that had the crowd out dancing and sweating. Otis came on stage and sang "Shamalama Ding Dong" from the movie Animal House, which started it all for Otis "my man" Day whose real name is DeWayne Jessie. It's interesting how Otis Day's singing career came about. DeWayne Jessie was part of Universal Studios' stable of character actors (where he had performed in 22 major films) when he was offered the role of Otis Day, the roadhouse R&B singer in the movie Animal House. He almost didn't take the role that would change his life. After the overwhelming response from the movie, his manager started getting calls for Jessie (Otis Day) to come perform. Jessie thought they were kidding at first. Finally his manager agreed and told Jessie "we will go on the road for a two month tour and then you go back to making movies."
Amelia Jessie
Mill City Music Festival
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
That was 19 years ago! Now he is Otis - for life! "He's taken over," Jessie admitted. "He's taken over as far as performing goes. But when I get my bills, it's DeWayne Jessie."

Jessie's whole musical career was played out backwards. "It was done in reverse," states Jessie's manager Ron Kurtz. "First we toured successfully (after the movie they did over 260 shows the first year - and over 2500 to date), then we did a video. Now we have a new album on MCA Records." It's also time to finally get back to making movies, what he originally planned on doing 19 years ago. This year Jessie, along with his niece Amelia Jessie will star together in the Tony Braxton Story with Amelia as Tony and Otis playing the spirit of Tony's father.

Otis Day's niece Amelia Jessie also fronted the band with Otis. They make a good combination on stage and she has one of those clear strong voices that just rings true. Their repertoire is what everyone expected (after all, we did see them perform at the first Mill City Festival last year).
Mill City Music Festival 1997
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
There was a mixture of old R&B and rock and roll standards like "Soul Man" along with the movie favorites "Louie, Louie" which really brought out the "animals" in the audience, and everyone's favorite "Shout." There was quite a build up to the finale "Shout" with Otis showing his skill at milking the audience. Shirley King (B.B.'s daughter who was in town for a show later that night) joined Otis on stage for the previous song as part of the build up to "Shout."
Otis Day & Shirley King
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
After which Otis said, "Shirley you a 'Knight' now." The whole crowd was up waving and shouting when Otis Day brought the house down with "Shout." He was even down on his back singing from the stage floor.

It was going to take some to top this performance. Luckily there was a little break before the headline "Blues" show started over on the main stage.

Magic Dick
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Magic Dick and Jay Geils kicked off the evenings blues showcase. This was strong 1950's Chicago electric blues with Magic Dick blowing some wicked harp and Jay Geils classic sounding guitar. This evening's blues set drew the largest crowd of the weekend with the audience stretching all the way from Hennepin Avenue to 1st. Avenue. Magic Dick and band did a rocking hour set and left many wishing they would have played a little longer.

Jimmie Vaughan
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
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Jimmie Vaughan, the Austin, Texas guitar player and crowd favorite, wearing his bright yellow and gold shirt started out with a rousing "Boom-Bapa-Boom" boogie from his "Strange Pleasure" CD and followed with "Texas Flood" in tribute to his brother Stevie. The black clouds, which had been threatening for the past hour, rolled in after "Texas Flood" and the rain hit with some strong winds. Luckily it was only a short down pour that didn't dampen anyone's spirits. Jimmie delivered some very good guitar playing done with taste, reserve and maturity.

Robert Cray
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp, All rights reserved
Robert Cray was up next and this turned out to be a major highlight of the weekend. He has those low key, smooth sounding vocals and delivers his biting guitar licks with clear precision and fiery energy. He had the Memphis Horn section joining him on stage pumping out some super soul and R&B rhythms that complemented his soulful vocal stylings. After Cray's all too short set he was brought back for the first, and well deserved, encore of the evening.




B.B. King
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
B.B. King closed out the evening with his standard but always impressive show. The middle part of his show where he sits down and plays with just a few other musicians is always my favorite part. He likes to talk to the audience and is always so warm and friendly. Musically, BB is one of the most copied blues guitar players but few come close to duplicating his distinctive sound. "All I do is play Lucille,'' King says with a smile, pointing toward his trademark Gibson guitar.







Shirley King
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved



Shirley King performed after Mill City @ Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues. Backed by the Blue Chamber band at Famous Dave's Shirley put on one of her trade mark entertaining shows. She has the ability to draw her audience into her act and always delivers a strong performance. She also had a special treat in store for her when her dad B.B. King arrived near the end of the show. Shirley and Big John Dickerson did one final number for her dad that had some fun repartee. This was a special night for Shirley because it was the first time her dad has been able to see her perform.

B.B. King
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Big John Dickerson & Shriley King
Photo © 1997 by Tom Asp
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This was another musically fulfilling weekend featuring a wide variety of music...I only wish I was able to see more of the performers (not always easy to do with multiple shows going on at the different stages). But I do look forward to a repeat performance next year!

Mill City Music Festival Day One

Mill City Music Festival Day Two

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

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Copyright © 1997 by Ray M. Stiles
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