Saturday, July 12, 2008

Groovin' on a behive queen 'n tex-mex on a picture-perfect Friday night in Hamden...

Gooljean Gool (Bobcat baseball head and brother of Rejean Gool) once bounced a tee shot about 100 yards down the fairway into the cup for a hole-in-one on a spring day long, long ago here. He couldn't do that now. No, his skills have not eroded over the years (he never had any), but now this tract of land on Dixwell Avenue is no longer the Meadowbrook Country Club. It's gone!

It is about 6:30pm. We've already had some tasty Mexican (Eating Raoul) and witty reparte at DaVins, so we're contented boys and girls. Vin directs us to park at the middle school, where we assemble our belongings (folding chairs, coolers, even a blanket!) and follow the crowd down the hill, across the field/fairway, past the vending trucks, up the hill to a viewing spot about 50 yards from the stage. The park has a wonderful natural slope down to the stage for a viewing area and it's filling in fast. We settle in and we await Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez.

Per AllMusicGuide, Christine Ohlman is a "....writer, singer, book editor, record collector and performer, ....probably best known to the general public for her work as vocalist in the Saturday Night Live band, specifically the G.E. Smith years. Both were founding members of the Scratch Band that specialized in the soul drenched rock she has continued to release with her own group Rebel Montez....She has also contributed her husky pipes to albums from the diverse likes of Charlie Musselwhite, Kenny Neal, Eddie Kirkland, Big Al Anderson and Ian Hunter. Ohlman sang the theme song for 30 Rock and was one of the singers for Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden in 1993. In her non-vocal work, she was an original contributor to All Music Guide and edited Andrew Loog Oldham's book 2Stoned."

I originally met Ms. Ohlman in 2006 at the Meriden Daffodil Festival while purchasing one of her CDs after her show at the bandshell stage there. She had just packed everything up to leave, but graciously she directed me over to the back of her station wagon to get one. When I mentioned that I was leaving the following week for Jazz Fest in New Orleans, she related to me her great love for the recently-ravaged city. I emailed my post of the show to her that night and she replied in kind, thanking me and sending me the link to a piece she had written for the New Haven Advocate about her experience in New Orleans at the first post-Katrina Mardi Gras. I introduced her to Johnny Gumbo at a Cafe Nine show, which subsequently led to her appearance at the Southington Apple Harvest Festival. I'm a big fan of her music.

The Beehive Queen (the beehive is her tribute to Ronnie Spector) and her band, Rebel Montez (Michael Colbath-bass/vocals, Larry Donahue-drums/percussion,Cliff Goodwin-lead guitar), are in great form and first-rate soundsystem throws it out to us perfectly. Prior to launching into It's All Over Now, Christine tells us that, although the song was made popular by the Rolling Stones, their version would be closer to the original, done by the Valentinos'. The boys love the hour-long set; the girls do not.

Los Lobos follows after a brief intermission. Bad time to hit the head, for there are hundreds lined up, single-file, at the two available locations. Oh well, hold it in for later. We settle in for some more great music. The band is tight, energetic. Curiously, despite wonderful musicianship and solid vocals, the only songs that are catching my attention are the covers. Their style reminds me somewhat of the Iguanas, but I find the latter to have catchier songs. Not to quibble, Los Lobos is still very good. I finally make my way through the crowd down to the shorter lines at the port-o-johns to get some relief. Whew! We stay for the start of the encore, but it's late and the boys must be awake early for golf, so we sneak away before "La Bamba" closes the show. Not sure what was going on, but the stage was filled with people as we drove down Dixwell on our way home. A good time was had by all. (note: Los Lobos rocking out for the kids- article

Concerts continue during the summer at the bandshell. However, tonight's pairing may have been the best, for acts like The Fifth Dimension, Mickey Thomas' Starship and the Temptation Review don't hold much promise, at least for this cowboy.

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