Monday, July 20, 2009

It all began... over a beer in an alley

I worked with the Longview Downtown Development Corporation and 100 Acres of Heritage for 25 years. This volunteer group created and oversaw both Alleyfest and the Alley Musicfest. The festival evolved from the Alley Art Show, a one day art show started in 1978. In 1988, Alley Art featured a few local Musicians in the beer garden as part of festival. While listening to the entertainment, Jerry Russell, Ken Kennedy and I talked about how well the crowd responded to the music and the possibility of adding a street dance to the organization's events. This was the genesis of Rigadoon/Alley Music Festival, the one night street dance featuring three bands, which ran as an independent event for three years.

In 1992, under the direction of Longview Downtown Development Corp. president, Jay Godfrey, Alleyfest began by combining AlleyArt, Hoop It Up - a 3 on 3 basketball tourney, and Rigadoon/Alley Music Fest. It was a three day festival in downtown Longview, Texas. I worked with the both musicfests from 1989 to 2002.

In 2003, Alleyfest took a new direction, both deleting one music stage and booking fewer national touring artists. This decision coincided with the end of my tenure as music director. In the fourteen years of coordinating the music and serving a year as Alleyfest chairman, the group strived to never compromise the original goal set from the festival's inception ~ to bring the best bands available to the people of Longview, Texas ~ because we knew this would be the only live musical/art event many festival attendees would see each year.

Here is the year by year list of the bands who played the festival from 1989 through 2002.

Rigadoon ,1989 - The Bluebirds played to a hasily moved crowd in the National Guard Armory when a down pour soaked Longview. Even with a shaky start, the first event was well received and LDDC ran out of food and beverage.

Rigadoon, 1990 - Gary Primich and the Midnight Creeps, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Trout Fishing in America provided a great evening of music from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Alley Music Fest, 1991 - A New name was chosen because most folks didn't understand the meaning of Rigadoon. Christine Albert, know for her Blue Bell Ice Cream jingle, Dallas Brass and Electric and Trout Fishing In America provided a great evening of musical entertainment.

1992: Dallas Brass and Electric, The Stratoblasters, The Carribean Connection, Warren Caesar Zydeco Band, The Old Fiddler's Contest, and The Original Dixie Chicks

1993: Brave Combo, Walter Hyatt, Joe Kubek and B'nois King, The Bluebird's with former A-Train vocalist, Micki Hunneycutt, Michael Johnson and the Killer Bees , and Joe King Carracso and the Crowns. (Joe and Michael teamed up together for a last set of Raggae meets Tex-Mex that blew away the whole crowd).

1994: Anson Funderburg and the Rockets with Sam Meyer, Toni Price, Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters, Wayne Toups and Zydecajun, Brian Black, Webb Wilder,and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

1995: Blues great Big Daddy Kinsey and the Kinsey Report, Chris Duarte, Doyle Bramhall, Tutu Jones, R. L. Griffin and the Holt House Review, and that kid from Shreveport, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jo-El Sonnier, Trout Fishing in America, Joe Ely, and the Back Seat Drivers.

1996: Elvin Bishop,Our first national headliner, Russell Jackson made his first appearance, Big Mike Griffin, Sue Foley, Tommy Castro, Mitch Woods and the Rocket 88s, Ronnie Dawson, Tiesco Del Ray and the Nut Rockers, The Naughty Ones, and Ponty Bone and the Squeezetones.

1997: Katie Webster and Vasti Jackson, Wet Willie vocalist, Jimmy Hall and his new band the Prisoners of Love, Russell Jackson, Mem Shannon and the Membership, Sean Costello and the Jivebombers, The Cate Brothers , Sam "Bluzman" Taylor, the Bluebirds, The Radio Kings ,and local bands Mr. Walker and Dr. Benjamin and Van Go.

1998: Eric Burdon's I Band featuring Ansley Dunbar, Long John Hunter, Sherman Robertson, Russell Jackson, Bryan Lee, The Bluebirds, Micheal Burks, Wes Jeans. Hash Brown's Band with 13 year old guitar prodigy Andrew Baxter, Jr., Sun Pie Barnes and the Zydeco Sunspots, and Hippie Gumbo.

1999: Canned Heat , Chris Thomas King and Rockin' Tabby Thomas and the Mighty House Rockers, Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones, The Excello Allstars with Earl Gaines and Roscoe Shelton, Mark May and the Agitators, The Bluebird Review with guests Wes Jeans, Mikki Honeycutt, and the Moore Town Horns, Andrew Baxter, Jr., Mason Ruffner, chicano bluesman, Randy Garibay and Cats Don't Sleep, Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs , Mr. Walker.

2000: Leon Russell, Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds, Little Charlie and the Night Cats, Rick Moore and Mr. Lucky, Big Mike Griffin, Russell Jackson, Anthony Gomes, Brint Anderson, Sweet Miss Coffey and the Mississippi Burning Band, The Bluebirds and Mikki Honeycutt, The Headhunters,The Mofo Party Band.

2001: Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Guitar Shorty, The Reba Russell Band, The Rockin' Highliners with Robert Tycholis, Theresa Andersson, Joe "King" Carrasco and the Crowns, Andrew and Morgan Baxter and Serious Business, and Voodoo Healin'.

2002: Koko Taylor and Her Blues Machine, W. C. Clark, The Silent Partners Reunion featuring Russell Jackson, Tony Coleman, and Andrew"Jr. Boy" Jones, Joe Louis Walker, Anders Osborne, The Reba Russell Band , The DeRailers, The Radio King's Brian Templeton, Joe "King " Carrasco and the Crowns, and Ponty Bone and the Squeezetones.

The purpose of this blog is to revisit many of these artists via "YouTube" the latest of science's modern miracles.
I hope you enjoy these posts. ~ The SR Mgt. Team

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Celebrating Those Who Have Gone On

These posts keep reminding me how important it is to see these great performers before they are gone. Looking back, many of the great artists who played Alleyfest through the years have passed into that "big jam session in the sky." Here is a list of those artists and the year they played Longview:

Gary Primich (blues) ~ 1990 Rigadoon
Warren Caesar (zydeco) ~ 1992
Walter Hyatt (folk) ~ 1993
Champ Hood (with Walter Hyatt)~ 1993
Michael Johnson of the Killer Bees (Raggae) ~ 1993
Sam Myers of Anson and the Rockets (blues) ~ 1994
Doyle Bramhall (Texas blues)~ 1995
Big Daddy Kinsey (blues) ~ 1995
Ronnie Dawson (rock-a-billy) ~ 1996
Freddy Pharoh(drums Sue Foley Band) ~ 1996
Katie Webster (blues) ~ 1997
Sam "Bluzman" Taylor (blues) ~ 1997
Sean Costello (blues) ~ 1997
Micheal Burks (blues) ~ 1998
Rockin' Tabby Thomas (blues) ~ 1999
Randy Garibay (blues) ~ 1999
Earl Gaines of the Excello Allstars (soul/blues) ~ 1999
Roscoe Shelton of the Excello Allstars (soul/blues) ~ 1999
Robert Lucas of Canned Heat (60's boogie music) ~ 1999
Koko Taylor ( Queen of the Blues )~ 2002

Dolyle Bramhall
Bramhall was born on Feb. 17, 1949, in west Dallas. He said his older brother was an early influence on his musical tastes. “In the early ‘60s he had four or five friends who’d come over and listen to these great old blues albums,” Bramhall told me in 2007. “I’d sit outside his bedroom door and listen to Muddy (Waters) and B.B. (King) and Lightnin’ Slim and Lightnin’ Hopkins.”

In high school Bramhall started a band, the Chessmen, with Jimmie Vaughan on guitar; they once opened for Jimi Hendrix when he played Dallas. “I looked over and the three of them were were moving their feet and snapping their fingers,” he said.

By the ‘70s Bramhall was keeping the beat in Texas Storm, which featured both Vaughan brothers. The period was one of great creative growth for all three players, as they found eager audiences in Austin for their fiery update of the blues. The sound they created would end up making Stevie Ray an international star in the ‘80s. “We were both aware of wanting to show our influences, but stretching it out a bit,” Bramhall said.

An early song they collaborated on, Dirty Pool, ended up on Stevie Ray’s 1983 debut album Texas Flood. Stevie Ray would record numerous other songs that Bramhall wrote or co-wrote with him, including Wall of Denial, Scratch-N-Sniff, Tightrope and The House Is Rockin’. One of Bramhall’s finest compositions, Life by the Drop, documented the different directions their careers took.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Anders Osborne ~ 2002

Anders was born in 1966 in Uddevalla, Sweden, left home at age sixteen, and hitchhiked and played music throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the U.S. He settled in New Orleans in 1985 and still calls Louisiana his home.

During his first decade in New Orleans, Anders lived in the French Quarter and played regularly in local clubs. After gaining a following, Anders received an independent record deal with Rabadash Records out of New Orleans, and released "Doin’ Fine" in 1989.

Anders and his band toured the U.S. during these years and in 1995, he was signed to Okeh Records. He released "Which Way to Here", and album that dealt with spirituality and tolerance. The record became Osborne’s first commercial break with two top-five singles “Favorite Son” and “Pleasin’ You.” Both were featured in several Hollywood movies, and the latter was later recorded by Jonny Lang.

Koko Taylor ~ 2002

Born Cora Walton in Shelby County, Tennessee in 1928, Taylor was the daughter of a sharecropper. She left Memphis for Chicago, Illinois in 1952 and in the late 1950s she began singing in Chicago blues clubs. She was spotted by Willie Dixon in 1962, and this led to wider performances and her first recording contract.

In 1965, Taylor was signed by Chess Records, for which her single "Wang Dang Doodle" and featured Little Walter on guitar. National touring in the late 1960s and early 1970s improved her fan base, and she became accessible to a wider record-buying public when she signed with Alligator Records in 1975. She recorded nine albums for Alligator.

Taylor influenced musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Shemekia Copeland, Janis Joplin, Shannon Curfman, and Susan Tedeschi. In the years prior to her death, she performed over 70 concerts a year and resided just south of Chicago in Country Club Hills, Illinois. Taylor died on June 3, 2009. Her final performance was at the Blues Music Awards, on May 7, 2009.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Guitar Shorty ~ 2001

Guitar Shorty,David William Kearney, was born on September 8, 1934, in Houston, Texas, but grew up mainly in Kissimmee, Florida where be began playing the guitar at an early age and began heading a band not long after. During his time in Tampa Bay, Florida, he received his nickname, Guitar Shorty, when it mysteriously showed up on the marquee of the club he was playing as 'The Walter Johnson Band featuring Guitar Shorty.'

He steadily began to garner accloades from his peers and, at the age of 16, he joined the Ray Charles Band for a year. He then recorded his first single in 1957, "You Don't Treat Me Right", under the direction of Willie Dixon when Dixon saw him playing with the Walter Johnson orchestra. Eventually, he would join Guitar Slim's band and move to New Orleans, Louisiana. While in New Orleans, Shorty also fronted his own band which played regularly at the Dew Drop Inn where he was joined by special guests such as T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner and Little Richard.

Shorty next moved to the West Coast at 19 in order to play with Sam Cooke. He played up and down the west coast and Canada until he met his future wife, Marcia, in Seattle, Washington. His new wife turned out to be the half-sister of Jimi Hendrix, who attended several of Shorty's gigs and possibly being influenced by Shorty.

The following years were both good and bad; to get by at one point even, Shorty made an appearance on Chuck Barris' Gong Show, winning first prize for performing the song "They Call Me Guitar Shorty" while balanced on his head. He and his wife eventually settled in Los Angeles, California. Appearances at major festivals like The Monterey Bay Blues Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival,The King Biscuit Blues Festival, and Alleyfest 2001 brought him to larger and larger audiences.

Get The Long and Short(y) of it here.

Monday, July 9, 2001

The Official Alley Quiz.

Test your knowledge of the golden years of Longview's Alleyfest with "The Official Alleyfest Challenge" :

1. This Southern rocker isn't all wet, he has a full time job working as Hank Williams, Jr.'s saxophonist and harp player.

2. You'd never mistake the two, this performer signed left handed autographs for a nervous John Lee Hooker.

3. This silver haired headliner began his professional career at the age of 14 and appeared on Bobby Boris Pickett's ";Monster Mash" and The Beach Boys "California Girls".

4. Unable to join Otis Redding on tour in 1967 because she was pregnant, this Alleyfest artist was not on the plane that took Otis Redding's life.

5. This Alleyfest performer portrayed Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" with George Clooney and also appeared in "Ray".

6. Orphaned at age 11, this performer was named Chicagoan of the Year in 1999 and performed at both the Clinton and Bush inauguration parties.

7. This Alleyfest performer was band leader for both Little Richard and Sam Cooke, leading the band on rock classics, "Bring It On Home" & "Twisting The Night Away" , "Long Tall Sally" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On."

8. He joined the Dell-Kings, the house band at the Sahara Hotel, and worked with legends such as Jackie Wilson, Judy Garland and Sammy Davis, Jr. -ole' baby.

9. While working in the house band at Clifford Antone's famous Austin blues club, he played with virtually all the stars in the blues world - Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Eddy Taylor, Big Walter Horton, and Buddy Guy.

10. This band's music has been featured in commercials for Tide Detergent, Target, General Motors, Miller Beer, McDonalds, Amtrak, and Smokey The Bear.

11. Belying his "good ol' country boy" persona, which Alleyfest performer was actually a 1959 National Merit Scholar in physics ~ he's a gentleman hog farmer.

12. This Alleyfest artist launched the careers of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, John McVie , Mick Fleetwood, Andy Fraser, and Mick Taylor - Eric Clapton has stated, "He has actually run an incredibly great school for musicians."

13. This six time Alleyfest performer was a member of the great B.B. King Orchestra for 7 years.

14. A great guitar player in his own right, the Alleyest performer was also Jimi Hendrix's brother-in-law.

15. This member of the Rock-a-Billy Hall of fame toured with the Lightcrust Doughboys and played drums Paul and Paula's "HEY PAULA" and Bruce Channel's" HEY BABY".

Bonus Round: This Alleyfest performer was an NFL lineman and IS a full time National Park Ranger.

Super Bonus: This ex-boxer hired a driver and picked up a band so he could come to Alleyfest.

Super trivia: These guys know how to Party! Legend around here is,after flying in from California to play Alleyfest these fun loving brothers rented a car proceeded to invest most of their money at Harrah's Casino in Shreveport.

Answers in the comments section!

Scoring: 0-4,You must have been out of town a lot the first weekend of June!
5-9,You were there, but maybe you had too much to drink!
10-14, Hey, I remember you, you were on the front row every year!
15+ Wait a minute, you're me!

Thursday, June 21, 2001

Sir John Mayall ~ 2001

John Mayall, OBE, is a pioneering English blues singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. His musical career spans over fifty years. Mayall's father was Murray Mayall, a guitarist and jazz music enthusiast. From an early age, he was drawn to the sounds of American blues players such as Leadbelly, Albert Ammons, Pinetop Smith, and Eddie Lang, and taught himself to play the piano, guitars, and harmonica. Mayall served three years of national service in Korea and, during a period of leave, he bought his first electric guitar.

John Mayall has been influential in the careers of many instrumentalists, including Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Mick Taylor, Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Harvey Mandel, Larry Taylor, Aynsley Dunbar, Hughie Flint, Jon Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Andy Fraser, Johnny Almond, Jon Mark, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, and Buddy Whittington.

In 1984, Mayall restored the name Bluesbreakers for a lineup comprising the two lead guitars of Walter Trout and Coco Montoya, bassist Bobby Haynes and drummer Joe Yuele. The mythic name did perhaps something to enhance the interest in a band which by all standards was already remarkable. A successful world tour and live recordings achieved the rest. In the early 1990s Buddy Whittington became the sole lead guitarist in a formation which included then organist Tom Canning.

Of the Order Of British Excellence Sir John said, "It's the only major award I've ever received. I've never had a hit record or a Grammy or been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." ~ Wikipedia