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.