Just in from Healeys. Eddy B called to tell me Kenny Neal was a last-minute special guest at Jeff Healey's regular Thursday gig. He was in town because his daughter had a CD launch at the club the night before so they asked him to sit in with them. Dave Murphy was probably the previously scheduled guest and he did a stand-up job backing up Kenny and when he sang a couple of tunes in the next set, he rocked. So as I'm watching this go down, I'm trying to analyze what makes this work. When you're a "special guest" like this, there's no rehearsal, no charts...you're lucky if the key get's announced. So the seasoned veterans would not pull out an original tune that no-one has heard (which is what I've often done). No, they play the most obvious blues standards they can think of. Two that Kenny did, Bad Sign and Big Boss Man, are tunes that I could pull out and play, except anytime I've tried somebody would groan "I can't possible play that song one more time" Well I'm going to run over those two and maybe a couple more standards and have them ready for the day that I'm invited to come up and do a couple of tunes.
Kenny pulled it off great - his whole set was predictable, easy to follow-along songs (there was even a sing-a-long song). He's a great performer - I learned a lot watching him. When he wanted the band to come down in volume, he looked back to Al (Webster, the drummer) and then bent down a bit to signal that the volume was about to drop. The Al gave the snare a little snap - I love that!. Al is an amazing drummer - so relaxed. Alec Fraser was playing bass - a rock - and there was a fiddler doing a blues tune when I came in. A young guy...I want to meet him. Apparently he plays with Jefff healey's Jazz Wizards. I also heard of a great fiddler who plays with Grand Bouche. I'm going to get me a fiddler that wail the blues and we could have a real high-energy duo.
Last night I went to hear African superstar Baaba Maal. That was amazing. The stage was laid out beautifully and the lighting just right. There was lots of dancing (even some Senegales audience members climbed up and did that Senegalese two-step. The vocals were the thing, with backing from two percussionists and 3 acoustic guitarists and one playing the "Senegalese guitar" ..a simply strung instrument with maybe 3 strings. He was a true virtyuoso on that instrumen. One of the guitarists, the one who was sitting down at the back of the stage, turns out to be a legend himself...and mentor to Baaba Maal. He played great.
I'm going to try to come up with a tune that uses that afro-groove. Yes...I'm still here wrriting songs when I should be wrapping up my album. Well, no regrets - the thrill of coming up with a good tune is amazing...even if the tune is eventually discarded, at that moment of creating, it's cloud nine.
When somebody asked about my album tonite I said well. there's a pro and a con to recording at home. You can take your time and you *do* take your time