Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winter Park, Summer Blues Part #3

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.

Winter Park, Summer Blues Part #2

So, where was I?  Ah yes, Dustin Pittsley was just taking the stage.  The boys from Oklahoma revved up the crowd and let everyone know why their Colorado popularity is exploding.  This was their first Blues From the Top appearance, but clearly won’t be their last.

In between each of the main stage acts, we enjoyed sets from The Future of the Blues, the kids’ stage.  Ranging in ages ten to late teens, the Future Stage produced some wonderfully memorable sets, demonstrating the remarkable musical abilities inherent in some kids, and how fun that can be when they are given both encouragement and room to grow.  I think the youth stages at both BFtT and Greeley Blues Jam show how serious we Coloradans are about the future of our beloved music. 

A couple of weeks ago, Young Austin received the first standing ovation of the GBJ, and this past weekend, he got a few more, as did all of the kids.  At the risk of sounding corny, one would have to be soulless not to tear up and feel a glowing warmth from head to toe and beyond watching and listening to these kids give it their all, with the Blues flowing through their young veins. Every great now and again I get some mild grumbling about how often I put kids’ bands on the stage at the Outlook, usually opening for a bigger act.  I’ll take the grumbling, because along with John Catt of BFtT and Pam and Al Bricker from GBJ, I firmly believe it is my responsibility and obligation to do whatever I can to nurture and motivate these talented kids.  The Catt, the Brickers, and the Bee will continue our support of these kids and their music for as long as we draw breath.

Winter Park, Summer Blues Part #1

I’m having another one of my William Wordsworth days. Perhaps I should explain. Wordsworth’s I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud has been my favorite poem for decades. Certainly the imagery is beautiful and spot on, but it’s that last stanza that hooked me the first time I read it. And every time since. I even made a refrigerator magnet with that stanza to remind me of the benefits of daily reflection.

I can tell when I’m going to have a Wordsworth day the moment I open my eyes. Like this morning. That last stanza is about reflection, and this morning I’m in full-on reflection mode from this past weekend’s 9th Annual Blues From the Top festival. The daffodils and my heart are dancing to the Blues (read the poem at the conclusion, and that will make sense).

This is the first year I’ve made the journey to Winter Park, CO, on Saturday morning instead of Friday evening. There were logistical concerns that prompted that decision, and although I missed the Friday night jam at Smokin’ Moe’s, I still heard about a week’s worth of great Blues in an awe inspiring Rocky Mountain setting. It’s just so damn beautiful! And, had I gone up Friday evening, I wouldn’t have had an EXHILARATING wildlife sighting. My good friend Bill was driving, and as we rounded a corner, I noticed what I thought were three small deer having a little nosh by the side of the road. Just as we got parallel to them, I noticed they were in fact rams. I’ve been in Colorado for twelve and a half years and these were my first rams! I’m still pretty excited about it. The last two on my list for sightings are mountain lion and bobcat. If anyone has any good sighting areas, hit me back.