Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 190 #233)

Jerry Portnoy!!!

B1 was honored to have the amazing Jerry Portnoy with us in class this week. The evening was a huge treat. Jerry is a fantastic storyteller and regaled us with tales of Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Walter Horton and others. He has true blues history and remembers every detail! In all the time we've hosted guests, this is the first time 90+ minutes flew by without Joe saying a word - Jerry knew just where to take conversation and needed no steering or prompting.

In the "poignant moment" category that B1 will never forget, Jerry described the day he got the call to tour with Muddy, or, as he called it "the royal summons". Stepping on stage as part of the Muddy Waters Band and being announced with the band was the musical high point of his life and even telling it this many years later brings a tear to his eyes. It was wonderful to see a player with his skill and career be so thankful for the opportunities life has given him.

In addition to road stories, Jerry also has definite ideas about making music and he gave us some very deliberate, thoughtful responses to questions about songwriting, tone and playing behind vocalists. On the the topic of tone, for example, he used a visual metaphor for the sound of a note and ended with this:
"Make a good sound come out of your instrument because it's sound that will move people."
B1 was rocked by the spirit and wisdom of a great player and person. Thanks for spending time with us, Jerry!

photo: Grant Kessler

P.S. Joe has arranged a special disc of additional Portnoy material that will be for sale in class next week, so bring your cash!

Chicago Blues Harp Bash #3 A Smoking Success!!!

The Bash Sunday night at SPACE was an overwhelming success! It was a packed house - 197 harp fans crowded the club - and performances were off the charts. B1 is still reeling from this exciting weekend!

RickEy, Harry, Lamont, Kirk and Shoji all did a phenomenal job and set Jerry Portnoy up to blow the audience away with his set. In addition to the advertised bill, special guests made appearances: Tommy McCracken sang a couple tunes with Lamont Harris and thrilled the crowd; Willie Buck sang with Shoji Naito and sounded great; we even got to hear Gerry Hundt blow harp on a tune with Shoji.

It was an extreme honor also to have both our previous headliners in the audience: Billy Boy Arnold and Jim Liban. Thanks guys! We loved having you there supporting the show.

Huge thanks go out to all who made this show possible:

- Gerry Hundt for jumping in and backing everyone up on guitar
- the rhythm section Mike Flynn and Steady Eddie Kobek for making
all the harp players sound great
- Shoji Naito for also playing guitar
- Jake at SPACE for making the show happen
- Michelle Filisko for manning the store
- Jaime Viehweg for designing and maintaining our Bash website
- David Kachalon for managing the stage
- Bone for helping push ticket sales
- Marianna Delinck Manley for the fantastic poster design
- Grant Kessler for shuttle service and photography
- Highway RickEy Trankle for photography
- Buzz Krantz for being Buzz!
- Tina in the Old Town cafe for catching the show and baking cupcakes
for us
- Joe Filisko for having the vision to make the Bash happen
- and thanks to those who made generous donations to "the fund"

We'll have photos up for you to see next week!

Class Notes
  • Shoji has a My Babe practice track available here.
  • Big Jim has a job!
  • B1 harp player Mark Holden and his wife had a baby! Emerson Rose Holden was born August 30 and she is blowing harp already:

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew