" Big Apple Blues July 2006 "

by Bob Putignano

As it appears in "Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine"

New York Report - July, 2006

Greetings from the Big Apple where their has been some stellar shows to talk about, as well as we will peak a bit into what is coming to the NYC area in the next month or two.

This show could wind up being the best show of the year, that being Bernard "Pretty" Purdie's birthday celebration in New Jersey, which featured a sweet soul/jazz performance by the Masters of Groove (Bernard, Reuben Wilson & Grant Green Jr), followed by a stellar band which consisted of Steve Cropper, Will Lee, Phoebe Snow, Eddie Floyd, Leon Pendarvis, Rob Paparozzi, and a awesome horn section consisting of: Blue Lou Marini, Tom "Bones" Malone, Wynston Bryd, and Chris Eminizer. Needless to say that this band smoked from the moment they hit the stage, Cropper was particularly on, and the horn section roared throughout. Perhaps the bands finest moments occurred when the timeless Eddie "Knock on Wood" Floyd fronted the band and was scintillating covering a fine smattering of his hits and other Stax chestnuts.

Up at the Turning Point in Piermont, NY- Coco Montoya blew apart this wonderful venue's foundation, with a 2 plus hour rocking performance. Coco has to be the one of premier rocking guitarist on the blues circuit, as his performances never disappoint, and he is wonderfully creative with his well thought out guitar solos. Lord knows he learned a lot from a man he calls "Pops" that "Pops" being the man he spent years with- the immortal Albert Collins, and Coco never does a show without playing a couple of Collins tunes, and you can easily hear the immense influence Albert had on Coco in his phasing and tone. Be sure to see Coco when he rolls into your town, and Coco told me to be on the lookout for his new CD on Alligator which is produced by Little Feat's Paul Barrere. Street date should be by the fall or early 2007.

Up at Levon Helm's in Woodstock NY I had the good fortune of catching two performances, the first of which featured the N'Awlins Gumbo Kings, and the second show featured The Brian Mitchell Band. Both nights also had the wonderful soul stirring Alexis P. Suter opening up (see this women and her band live with the always wonderful Bruce Katz in her band & wonderful background singers lead by Vicky Bell & Levon's daughter Amy) and of course The Levon Helm band closes things out with the likes of Jimmy Vivino, Michael Merritt, and the aforementioned Brian Mitchell who all reside as part of Levon's band. The scene that Levon's crew (Barbara O'Brien & Vicki Reid-wife of Bruce Katz) has created is unlike anything I have ever seen in all my years of attending live performances. The entire vibe is so cool, as the crowd really focus's on the music, and the way the barn is laid out it is very easy to wander in and out of the venue check out the stars or whatever and meander back in to check out the high level musicians on the floor level stage. And Levon sounds wonderful, his voice back to full throttle, and you get to witness (arguably) one of the world's greatest rock & roll drummers, who is playing his butt off and obviously having the time of his life- and its all right there in this very friendly and intimate barn. What is also cool is how all the various members of each band sit in with Levon's band, as members of Alexis band and her background vocalist join in, and on my first visit, the horn section of the Gumbo Kings (featuring Steve Howard) joined Levon's horn section, and really took the music to another level. Brian Mitchell is another musician to keep your eye on at Levon's, (many of you might remember Brian from his days with the great Walter "Wolfman" Washington) as Brian is now striking out on his own with a solo career, and a brand new CD titled "Diggin' Up the Roots" which is available at his web site:BrianMitchellMusic.com Brian's performance at Levon's was second to none, as he is an extremely gifted and creative pianist, with deep roots from his hometown of NOLA, this cat can hang with the best of them, and Brian received several standing ovations during his intense piano attacks on this very special night, his band is also of high caliber musicians as well. So put Brian Mitchell on your watch list (he gigs around the NYC area) and if you can catch him as part of the Levon Helm band in Woodstock- you will not be disappointed. For more info about the Levon's "Midnight Ramble" go to: Levonhelm.com And if you go to www.NYBluesandJazz.org find out how you can win a ticket to one of the now legendary Levon Helm's "Midnight Ramble's."

The NY Blues and Jazz Society had its first Band Member showcase at the legendary Bitter End featuring IBC winner Little Toby Walker, and the East River Blues Band, which also served as a CD release party for each performer as they both have new CD's out. Here is what Toby & members of the East River Blues Band has to say about their experiences at the Bitter End:

Toby Walker Said: "Being a member of the NYBJS sure has it's benefits. Just the idea that one can be fully updated on all the good music that is happening in the NY Metro area and beyond with the simple click of a mouse is pretty amazing. Add to that the various discounts on shows, reviews of CD's and live perfomances and interviews with your favorite artists, a blues and/or jazz fan really couldn't do too much better. I'm proud to be a member. By the way... I sold 23 CD's at the Bitter End show. That sure was nice." East River Blue Band Said: "The Bitter End may be historic but it's just about one of the most comfortable venues to play and see someone play. The view from the bar and from the seating is all intimate and comfortable. The hosts Nikki Armstrong and Michael Hill were so gracious and up for the gig. We thank them for volunteering their time again for the New York Jazz and Blues Society. Without the society and their tireless teamwork events like this one would never happen. We were able to sell 25 of our CD's and because they were behind the event we had over 75 paying guests at the show! The society is so important for New York's blues acts!

We worked for over two years putting together our new material and producing our CD High Tide so the release party was very important to us. The NYJBS's Band Member Showcase came through for us! We were thrilled with the success of the the show and are proud to be members!"

The next NYBJS member showcase is all set with The Jeanne Lozier Band & Dave Gross Band (both of whom have brand new CD's out & getting strong radio support around the country) which will be held on 8/13 at the Bitter End, and I will have more to report about this event in the next issue

There are some fine shows coming into BB King's that I will talk about next month, that being The Chicago Blues Reunion with Harvey Mandel, Nick Gravenites, Barry Goldberg, Tracy Nelson, and others, plus at the Turing Point in Piermont I am really looking forward to seeing a NRBQ reunion of sorts with founding NRBQ members Terry Adams and Steve Ferguson along with long time "Q" drummer Tommy Ardolino, and Peter Toigo on bass- this should be a goodun'.

Until next time, please keep supporting live music performances in your area, and always try to purchase a CD from the artists on stage- as it means so much to them!

Bob Putignano www.SoundsofBlue.com

Bob Putignano, President of NY Blues and Jazz Society www.NYBluesandJazz.org & www.BluesandJazzSounds.com Bob Putignano www.SoundsofBlue.com

Bob Putignano
Radio Host WFDU's "Sounds of Blue"
President of the NY Blues and Jazz Society