And now we’re on to Sunday. Blues From the Top Sundays always start at 10:30 a.m. with a gospel set. This year was Ashley Cleveland, and wow! This was the most rocked-out gospel performance I’ve ever witnessed. By appearances alone, gospel is the last genre of music one would assume from this band, but gospel they are, and I witnessed a number of tissues on faces by the time Ashley’s voice was quiet. She’s a powerhouse, and I personally hope BFtT brings her back. I’d also like to have the flowing cardigan she was wearing. It was beautiful. And I’m so shallow...
They were followed on the main stage by one of Colorado’s great Blues heros, Sammy Mayfield, and judging by the audience reaction to his introduction, he inspires a lot of pride around these parts. Right before he and his band went on, I was backstage and I heard someone say, “I think he has Mr. Wonderful with him.” I spun around on my heels and said, “Mr. Wonderful is here?! I LOVE Mr. Wonderful.” About a year or so ago, Mr. Wonderful and Frank Terry came to one of the Blues jams at the Outlook, and Mr. Wonderful did a cover of “Stand By Me” that had tears streaming down my face. It was and still is the best cover I’ve ever heard of that great classic.
Sammy had nine people on that stage, including my good friends, Andy Irvine on bass and Scotty Rivera on drums. Round about the middle of the set, as I was dancing away in the pit, I glanced up and Scotty was smiling at me. So I did what any girl would do: I blew him a kiss. He then did something pretty amazing. Right in the middle of playing, he was able to shift one of his sticks to the other hand and blow me a kiss without missing a beat! Very impressive. As was the entire band, and with Mr. Wonderful’s energetic performance, I think we were all a little exhausted after their set. And happy.
Joanne Shaw Taylor was scheduled to perform next, but she couldn’t make the journey to Colorado as she’s ill (nothing too serious I was told), so Samantha Fish and Kate Moss took the main stage, and every man at that festival (and a few women I imagine) was spellbound and mesmerized by these two beautiful women tearing up guitars with talent and force. The feminist in me was beaming.
Speaking of beaming, there was another Moss woman performing last weekend, and this was her second time on the main stage at BFtT. She was there last year, and there is no better term for her than “crowd pleaser.” Her name is Sadie Mae Moss, and she very recently turned seven. She is the daughter of Kate and Nick, and the musical gene is hers for the taking. She sang a few songs with her dad on guitar and Grace Ritter, the daughter of Category 5 Amplifier’s Don Ritter, on tambourine. I believe she’s nine. Yes the kids are really cute, but they are also talented (Grace is also a bit of a photographer, carting around a camera almost her size). Sadie Mae is comfortable on stage, and has a terrific presence. She seems to be aware of and embracing her destiny. Let’s hope she continues, because at seven she already has a very good voice. It’s only going to get better.
Next up, my good buddy Albert Cummings! It had been two years since we last saw each other, and as we do tend to have a lot of fun together, I was really looking forward to spending some time with him. Unfortunately, we had some time, but not enough. There’s always so much going on at festivals, with a lot of people wanting time with the artists, so there’s nothing to be done. What little time we had, however, consisted of, as usual, laughter. The first time I met Albert he called me a bitch. It was in 2006, dead of winter in Winter Park. He was there for a Blue Star Connection Benefit with Tommy
Shannon, of Double Trouble fame, and George Rains, drummer for Jimmie Vaughan at Smokin’ Moe’s. I went to the green room after the show to interview Tommy. All three were there, and it went like this:
AC: John tells us your friends with Bob Margolin.
HB: Yes, I’ve know him since I was a teenager.
AC: So you’ve heard all the Muddy Waters stories first hand.
HB: Yes, and I actually got to meet him once.
AC: [SLIGHT PAUSE] You bitch!
Yes, the first time I met Albert he called me a bitch. The same trio came to play the Outlook a bit more than a year later, and as they arrived the evening before the show, we all had dinner. I reminded Albert of that first conversation, and he said, “That’s right. You bitch.” A couple of months later, I flew to Dallas for a Category 5 benefit show for BSC at the Granada Theater, and the same trio was on the lineup. I was at the theater helping with the auction items and getting ready for the doors to open, when I saw Albert walking up the street. I ran out to say hello, and we talked for a few minutes, along with Mike Widner, a Blues promoter. Albert then needed to go to the hotel to change, and I had to get back to work. A few minutes later, Mike Widner walked into the lobby, approached me with a very uncertain and uncomfortable expression and it went like this:
MW: Um, Honey?
HB: Yes Mike.
MW: Um....Albert told me to tell you you’re a bitch.
The look on Mike’s face when I burst out laughing was priceless. It was one of relief and confusion. I guess he’s not used to a woman laughing at being called that name. Just by point of clarification, Albert is the ONLY one who can get away with that, so don’e even try it!
Next up came courtesy of the United Kingdom; the Matt Schofield Trio, and wow! It was my first time, but hopefully not my last. It’s great to bear witness to this most soulful and original form of American music being nurtured in other countries. Keeping the Blues alive should be an international endeavor.
The iconoclastic Jimmy Hall and Wet Willie closed the festival, and there was no shortage of happy, dancing people enjoying this reunion. The crowd stayed strong until the end. It was still a packed park of sun-glowing Blues lovers, spent from the weekend, but still not ready for it to end. Well, at least that’s how I felt. Anyone else? Every year, parting is such sweet sorrow.
But part we must, and I’ve already started the countdown for next year. However, we do have one more John Catt/BSC event to come this summer. On August 6, in Littleton, Colorado, join us for the first annual Blue Star Connection Festival with Emma Henry, Jack Hadley, Ana Popovic, Deanna Bogart, Mike Zito, Zac Harmon, and...wait for it...The My Tommy Castro Band! We’ve just a bit more than a month, so don’t wait, get your tickets now. And while you’re at it, check out the great things Blue Star Connection is accomplishing.
~Honey Bee Sepeda~