Perfect night to venture into the Capitol City for some music and relaxation at the 10th annual Blackeyed & Blues at Bushnell Park in Hartford. The Reet is tired, but always the trooper; a brief nap beforehand rejuvenates her. Our quick trip east on I84 lands us in the midst of rush hour traffic, but we detour off Sisson and then up Capitol to, well, the Capitol! We park right across from the entrance ramp to I84 (for a quick getaway), walk up the front lawn of the Capitol, then make our way around back to the wonderful slope of Bushnell Park. Looks like they let the grass grow pretty high before cutting, leaving a hayfield look to the park lawn. C'mon, Eddie Perez, what's up with that?
It's only 5:30. The Bluelights, the opening act of tonight's 5-act lineup are finishing up their set with an old Elvis tune as we enter the fenced-in checkpoint inspection (whew, the Reet's pocketbook, filled with contraband, passes muster), set up our chairs toward the back of the venue and call Keith. I find him still at his nearby office (those State employees are SO diligent!); he will be here shortly. Sharie, still under the weather, will not join us this evening. I spot a nearby beer tent and order a Red Hook lager (forgot the name), then realized I was supposed to get a band beforehand. Oh well, I put my beer down as I pulled out my ID. Now legal, I rejoin the Reet. Suddenly, Vin (now beardless) and Marsha (also beardless) appear, fresh from work with chairs strapped over shoulders.
Next up are Waterbury's Eran Troy Donner and his band. While Donner kicks ass on guitar/vocals with his bandmates Neal Hatcher on bass and Loyd Norton on drums, Keith finally joins our ranks. He's quickly off with Vin/Marsha to sample the Black-eyed Sally's offerings, while the Reet and I hold down the fort. A chap is handing out fliers for an upcoming Hartford Stage production of Yesterdays, an evening with Billie Holiday. As he offers the flyer he glances at my Anthony Jack's shirt and remarks, "Hey, great restaurant!" I now realize it's getting kind of chilly, so it's a quick trip back up the hill to the car to grab the sweater that I earlier told the Reet wasn't needed. Now it's time for some jambalya! While in line I notice a familiar piano shirt on the girl next to me. Hey, you get that at Jazz Fest? Yeah! Went the first weekend this year and raved about Joe Cocker's performance.
We're all settled in, hungers/thirsts satisfied, minding our own business when we suddenly get slammed by the Alexis P. Souter Band. This larger than life black woman from Brooklyn is fantastic, backed by two white chicks (bizarro world - 'and the white girls sing....') and a fabulous band (Bennett brothers on guitar/bass, Ray Grappone on drums and Bruce Katz on organ). The style is a little like the old Delaney & Bonnie stuff. I get down close to the stage to get the video shown below. Very cool. Keith picks up a copy of her new cd, Just Another Fool. Can't wait to hear it. A check on her touring schedule shows her appearing July 9 at the Battery Park "River and Blues Series" in NYC. The Reet decides to call it a night, so I accompany her back up the hill to the car. I'll go home with Keith, probably after Christine Ohlman. I don't think we'll make it to hear Bronze Radio Return.
We've heard Christine Ohlman, the Beehive Queen, and her band, Rebel Montez, a number of times the last few years, most recently last summer in Hamden on a bill with Los Lobos. Her biography offers ...this queen of blue-eyed rock n' soul grew up loving equally the sweetness of a Memphis horn line and the raunch of an electric guitar riff, whether played by Muddy Waters, Keith Richards, or Pop Staples......all the while continuing to torch clubs up and down the Eastern Seaboard in support of her recordings (Strip, The Hard Way, Radio Queen,Wicked Time, and and two new recordings, a 2008 career retrospective entitled Re-hive and, in early 2009, The Deep End, her first CD of original material in five years, featuring special guests Ian Hunter, Dion DiMucci, Levon Helm, GE Smith, Marshall Crenshaw, Big Al Anderson, Andy York and Eric Ambel) with her band Rebel Montez (Michael Colbath-bass; Cliff Goodwin-guitar; Larry Donahue-drums). "I've come here tonight to set your souls on fire," she'll tell an audience. And she will.
RICK! The Rick appears out of nowhere, beer in hand. Tells us he was at a business 'function' over at Vito's and thought he might run into us here. Best of all, he forks over my pari-mutual winnings from last week's Cape golf trip (I was the ONLY one who bet on VIN! Silly Vin, he bet on me!) Beers are on me, guys! Vin and Marsha take in Christine's first couple offerings, then call it a day. Keith, Rick and I make our way down to the front of the stage to catch the end of the set. Solid show, as always and I'll be most interested in hearing the new CD. Christine will be appearing at Cafe Nine on Saturday, July 11.
It's late. We're out of here! But where the hell was Kevin Meier? Until next time, stay thirsty, my friends.