The Scene: Two thousand or so folks scattered on a hillside amphitheater surrounding the band shell built a couple generations ago for the Baltimore Symphony’s outdoor summer series. Sunshine, 80s, breezy – perfection.
Music started at noon and we arrived c. 1:30 so we missed Blues Therapy. Came in the middle of the set for Big Daddy Stallings. Daddy was churning out blues-tinged 50s rock n’ roll. Closed his set with Sly Stone’s “Higher.” A good start.
Next up was Eric Lindell, who I’d never heard of. Very impressed. Blended modern blues with funk, NOLA carnival music and island guitar chopping. Tasty reggae version of “Don’t Bogart That Joint.” On the funk numbers, Eric got to burning up his SG. Boy can play. I wanted to get his CD but the line at the Blues Society stand to get autographed copies was too long. Guess I wasn’t the only one who dug it.
I had been looking forward to Dirty Dozen Brass Band for a long time. Had heard such great things about them that I was pumped when they took the stage. Surprisingly, they were the low-light of the day. When their arrangements were complex or when multiple horn players were improvising simultaneously, it hit me more as noise than music. I think in a good hall where they didn’t need amplification, it would be different, but here I think they were victims of the PA. It’s cool that they use sousaphone and baritone sax instead of a bass player, but when those two huge sounds came out through amps together I felt like I was getting pummeled. Great instrumentalists, to be sure. When the band backed down and each soloed to just drum and rhythm guitar accompaniment, they were terrific. Set included “When the Saints…” “What’s Goin’ On” “Superbad” and “All Over Now.”
Then Lady Joan. At first, she too was a victim of the PA. The bass was so big in the mix and so thick and muddy, you could hardly hear anything else. After scouting the whole hillside for a place that sounded decent and failing, I was so frustrated I did what I’ve never done. Actually went to the sound board and complained. Venue guy there said Joan’s road manager kicked his staff off and insisted on running sound himself, so there was nothing they could do. Frustrating. After 2-3 tunes, the band heard it too and started giving directions. By “Help Me” it was better. Never got ‘dialed in’ but was listenable the rest of the day.
Then…. LADY JOAN! Man, I knew she had a great voice from recordings of The Dead and Phil shows. But I didn’t know how good until I got to be there. The richness, the suppleness, the expression of her voice! It’s still ringing in my ears. “Holy Waters” gave me chills. My biggest hope was for “Brokedown Palace” and she delivered the sweetest version. She touched her heart and said “That goes out to all you Deadheads, from me to you.” Didn’t play my second hope, “Cream Dream” off Breakfast in Bed, but she played a nice set of tunes from that record, Pretty Little Stranger and earlier stuff. Closed with a rocking take on Dave Mason, but couldn’t encore to keep the schedule for Dickey Betts' closer (sep. review). Can’t wait to hear Lady Joan again.
Hot August Blues Festival
Oregon Ridge Park
Breakfast in Bed
Baby is a Butterfly
?? Alone With You?
Kiss & Say Goodbye
One of Us
Only You Know and I Know
The band shell (with mini-Joan):
Breakfast in Bed:
Whoops, try this one:
"Breakfast In Bed"
Joan rocks the blues: "Help Me"
Here ya go:
I think that's my big bro in the Dirty Dozen pic (to the left of Straw-Hat Guy)
He sez no. But he was right about there.
Nice shots, Randall!
Looks like you were in the stage left group of Heads that she dedicated the Brokedown directly to.
I was for the pix anyway. Didja see me? Sat further back for the show. Wish I'da known there were zoners there, I'd have loved to hang out a bit.
That's me, next to the guys on stilts:
Seems like it was no coincidence that the bass was so overpoweringly loud when I saw her in San Francisco a few months ago... I bet she's sleeping with the bass player, she was sure giving him the eye at Slims...
btw, the torrents are still running of the SF show, check it out if you want to hear some of these songs again...
Still as before on Trader's Den: