Solid Blues Tour
Washington Center for the Performing Arts
October 6, 2007
Columbia Artists Management has booked four acts to tour this fall, billing the show as "Solid Blues." They naturally looked to the South for the talent, and made sure that the musicians were diverse yet able to convey a unified musical message. The outcome of the show is a true testimony to the title of the act.
The well-attended opening night of this seven week tour began in Olympia, Washington and provided a rare evening of blues entertainment for the supporters of this local center for the humanities.
To set the mood of the show, the cool, Big Easy boogie sounds of Joe Krown were tickled down on a baby grand piano as homage to Dr. John was paid and blessings to New Orleans were well stated. The stage then took on the upbeat acoustic guitar picking of the North Mississippi Allstars. The traditional "Ragged But Right" immediately grabbed the attention of the unfamiliar audience.
Fans of Cody Dickinson got to see him switch roles and play "Four Till Eight" on a grand piano, while Luther Dickinson and Chris Chew continued to hold down the vocals, guitar and bass. "Make Me a Pallet" was sweetly sung, and the NMA classic "Going Home" triumphantly ended the acoustics. An electric version of "Po Black Maddie" provided a plugged in change of pace before a short intermission.
The audience was then treated to a set of Charley Musselwhite’s determined harmonica. Paired with The North Mississippi Allstars and Joe Krown as his backing band, Charley clearly enjoyed the benefit of having a well-versed rhythm section behind him to augment his harp. "Black Water" and "Christo Redemptor" were played with a familiarity and ease of contribution that you rarely find in a hosted (and opening night) situation such as this.
The climax of the show was the all-inclusive band formed to host the soulful voice and gospel royalty of Mavis Staples. The combined singing and playing that closed out the rest of the evening was gorgeously executed and presented the natural born gift that Mavis has to offer any audience. Her personal power to fill a room with awareness and joy has not faded with time, and true to her political upbringing she chose to deliver the messages of "Down in Mississippi," "Eyes on the Prize" and "Freedom Highway" with passion.
Mavis took the time to pay tribute to The Band for their music and eagerly conducted her provisional band through a highly participatory and spiritual version of "The Weight." The anticipated Staples staple "I’ll Take You There" was played with pleasure and saw the audience participation levels at the evenings highest.
This tour is a must see for any fan of the talent represented and is ordained to evolve into an incessantly growing Solid Blues extravaganza.