Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ronnie Baker Brooks

I’m just a couple of weeks away from the day, five years ago, when Willie Panker suggested I think about extending my promotional skills on behalf of live Blues.  So I continue down this memory lane.  Obviously I’ve had five years of exceptional music at great venues and festivals, and I’ve also been blessed with numerous memories that can instantaneously become smiles.  Please indulge me this happy trip to the past.

I first met Ronnie backstage at the Greeley Blues Jam in 2009, shortly before their set.  I watched their set from the relative comfort of the photographers pit, because at 5’ 2” (on a good day), it’s about the only place I can see the performers without getting trampled by tall people who don’t see me in their peripheral vision (crowds can be a painful nightmare for us shorties). 

I’d not seen Ronnie live before, and along with C.J. Tucker and Carlton Armstrong (more about him in a minute), he had the great Jellybean Johnson with him!  Their set was like a new happy drug to me, the effects of which can only be felt at a live performance.  Fortunately since then, I’ve wracked up a number of those happy times, and have become friends with these fine gentlemen.  With Carlton, that almost didn’t happen.

For those readers who’ve seen a live RBBB performance, you know that Carlton wears some rather menacing expressions while playing the bass, and I was terrified of him.  I gave him a wide berth backstage, and when Cricket introduced us, if I remember correctly, I shook his hand, then started looking for an escape route, in case he didn’t care for my grip. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Doing Tommy's Laundry

Once again, I’m but a month away from five years of doing the promotion and booking at the Boulder Outlook, and that anniversary has me in full-on reflection mode.  But for this one, I don’t have to think back very far.

Something happened yesterday that got me thinking about all the odd little requests I’ve received over the years.  Tommy Castro and the Painkillers arrived at the hotel Sunday night, and played a sold-out, two-nighter Monday and Tuesday.  So, yesterday I run into Tommy at reception, and he’s purchasing quarters and holding a small bag of laundry.  Oh, and he had his bike with him, getting ready to take advantage of the beautiful weather we’re enjoying on the Front Range. 

Anywho, we talked about the show the night before, the weather, you know, just a brief catchup.  Then he jokingly asked me, “Hey, you wanna do my laundry.”  To which I replied, “Well, I do live to serve.”  We laughed.  Then he said, “Actually, do you think you could put them in the dryer for me while I’m out riding. “Of course,” came my reply.  Well, a woman beat Tommy to the hotel’s one public washer, so I said, “Just give me the bag. I can handle this.  Go enjoy your ride.”  So, about half an hour later, when the woman’s clothes were in the dryer, I found myself hunched over the washer, laughing hysterically at doing Tommy’s laundry.  Why is this so funny?  Oh, dear reader; have you any idea how many women would have LOVED to have been in my position?  Let’s just say I now know the answer to the age old question: boxers or briefs.  The answer can be had for a price.  I also know that Tommy can more than compete with me in the multiple-black-T-shirt department. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again. - Groucho Marx

Next month is the five-year anniversary of my time at the Boulder Outlook, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life story has taken paths I would have never predicted, leading me to the stories of so many others. Like a great book, great stories change the audience forever. Bells can’t be un-rung, and some stories’ rings echo in the heart and mind eternally.

Some of those stories can have me in tears of laughter at the recall. Like when Mike Zito told me about his first time both meeting and jamming with his guitar hero, Chris Cain. He said after about twenty minutes into a 45-minute jam with Chris, he thought to himself, “Damn! I’m holding my own up here with Chris Cain!” As they left the stage, Mike noticed Chris had a broken string, and asked, “When did you break your G string?” To which Chris replied, “About an hour ago.” Mike said he just sunk inside, thinking, “Chris Cain just kicked my ass all over the place with a broken G string.” While all that is sacred, tears are rolling down my face right now.

Speaking of Zito, he was here a couple of weeks ago, and we had our sacred 9:30 a.m. breakfast date. It’s become a tradition, so much so, that we don’t even bother confirming any more; we just both show up. Anyway, I told him what is one of my all-time favorites, and it involves Steve Spirn, guitarist and Tommy Castro’s former, long-time road manager/sound engineer, Jimmy Thackery, and an enveloped stuffed with cash. Coincidentally enough, this was told to me by Steve, also at breakfast. Here’s what happened (I have received permission from both parties to publish this):

It was the last day of a January Blues Cruise a few years ago, and Steve was on the upper deck fixing some sound issues when an administrator approached with his pay: an envelope with fourteen, one hundred dollar bills in it. She insisted he count it in front of her. Steve said he thought it was a bad idea given the amount of wind at sea, but he did, and then stuffed the envelope into his back pocket. Not long after, Tommy was going on stage, following Jimmy Thackery. Something was amiss with Tommy’s amp, so he called Steve over for an adjustment. Steve reached into his back pocket to retrieve his screwdriver. Do I need to tell you what happened? The envelope flew up in the air and disappeared before anyone could even track it visually.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blow wind, blow wind, blow my baby back to me...

Blow wind, blow wind, blow my baby back to me.
Well, you know if I don't soon find them,
I will be in misery.

Those of us living on the Front Range need no explanation for this week’s title.  Yes, we have Chinook winds throughout the year, but thus far, 2012 has been a blustery, gale-filled blowhard, and I for one am done!  I believe I’ve yet to arrive anywhere in 2012 without looking like a scarecrow having a bad hair day.  Enough!
Fortunately for us, these strong winds are blowing the Mike Zito Band into town, and they arrive tomorrow!  There are still tickets, but I suspect we’re going to have a solid crowd tomorrow night.  Mike’s a house favorite (or maybe that’s just me...).  Boulder Outlook, 7:30 p.m.
Once again, Mike is having a great year, having secured yet another BMA nomination for 2012 Best Blues Rock Album, with the wonderful Greyhound.  The BMA’s are in Memphis on May 10th, and if the travel gods are smiling on me, I’ll be going with Lionel (who’s nominated for Best Instrument - Other/Violin).  
For some reason (probably having something to do with the winds), I’m waxing poetic today, in the mood for sweet reflection, and with my dear friend but 24 hours away, I think I’ll wax rhapsodic about Mike.  We first made our acquaintance via email, by way of Jason Ricci.  It was about three years ago, and Mike and the band had two nights off during a tour, Jason advised him to contact me about a musician rate at the hotel.  Within a week or two, Mike had filled those dates, so we didn’t meet for another couple of months, backstage at the 2009 Blues From the Top.  I walked over to where he was sitting, and said, “Mike?”  He looked up at me (like I said, he was sitting...still didn’t have to look up much), quizzically, and said, “Yes.”  I said, “I’m Honey from the Outlook.”  Without another word, he stood and gave me the kind of hug customarily reserved for close friends and family.  And three years later, we are just that. 
The last time he was here, in September, we had more concentrated time, just the two of us, to talk.  No, Talk.  We rarely go more than a few weeks without an email exchange, a quick phone call, etc., but those long, uninterrupted times are sparse, and I treasure them for the jewels of time they are.  Like I said, Mike’s family, so join us tomorrow night at the big reunion.  I love you, Mike!
Speaking of pretty (and when speaking about Mike, it’s implied), tomorrow night Stone Soup is back with Deborah Stafford, and that Don Finan is all kinds of pretty!  They pack the dance floor, so wear comfortable shoes.
My Beloved Delta Sonics return Saturday night for their first Outlook gig since returning from going to the semi finals in Memphis, so let’s dance a lot and eat bar-b-q.  Tuesday is Dan Treanor’s jam, he also having recently returned from Memphis where he accepted the KBA for Education (Bob Corritore told me he said a lot of touching things about John-Alex in his speech), so another big “welcome home” is in order.
Tickets for Tommy Castro and the Painkillers are still selling, so call today if you’ve been procrastinating.  Today is Leap Day, so make use of the extra 24 hours and get some live Blues tickets.  Make the day count! 
~Honey Bee Sepeda~  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Congratulations Diunna!

My good friend, Diunna Greenleaf, and her band, Blue Mercy, is number one all over Europe! I’ve been hearing and reading about her latest CD, Trying to Hold On, and even listening to song snippets on her site, and DAMN! That woman can not only sing the Blues, she can write the Blues. So well that she’s once again been nominated for a couple of Blues Music Awards: for the Koko Taylor Award - Traditional Blues Female, and for Traditional Blues Album.

I’m going to get back to Diunna in a minute. I just moseyed over to the Blues Foundation site to look at all the BMA nominations again. Including Diunna, this year there are SIXTEEN nominees who’ve played the Boulder Outlook at least once, and they are: Tab Benoit, Johnny Sansone, Candye Kane, Tommy Castro Band, Trampled Under Foot, Samantha Fish, J.P. Soars, Eric Clapton (just seeing if you’re paying attention), Danielle Schnebelen, Lazy Lester, Keith Crossan, Lionel Young, Otis Taylor, Ben Prestage, Eden Brent, Mike Zito, and Zac Harmon. Right now I feel like I need to have a lie-down. That’s an overwhelming list of talent we’ve had the great fortune of hearing and seeing up close and personal. Wow...

Ok, back to Diunna. Anywho, I had a nice long phone chat with the Houston native late last week, and it was thrilling to share in her much-deserved excitement. Several months ago, I was having a nice long phone chat with another good friend (who also happens to be one of Diunna’s BFFs), Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, a producer on this CD, and he told me I’d need to fasten my proverbial seatbelt once I got my hands on it. He said it was one of the finest Blues records he’s heard in a very long time. Last week I had yet another phone chat with yet another Bob (who produced six of the thirteen tracks and plays harmonica on four of them), who has this to say: I’m just thrilled to be a part of Diunna’s new record. I feel it is simply brilliant. Diunna’s is one of the greatest voices in Blues today, and the songwriting on this is superb. A simply brilliant songwriter-oriented blues CD. ~Bob Corritore~