Posts Tagged ‘blues


* Chris Thomas King, Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome @ Vinyl Music Hall + Q & A W/ Lang Hollowman. 06/25/11

This isn’t my grandfather’s blues. On a night that saw Chris Thomas King perform a hip-hop, spoken-word laced version of the blues standard “The Thrill is Gone,” local musician Mike Roycroft expressed his thoughts on witnessing the new wave of blues created by Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome. “After all these years, I think it’s really hard to do the blues without being trite or cliché, but she makes it all her own in such an awesome and literate and thoughtful way. Not only does she add to it with her natural singing voice, but she redefines it with her songwriting voice and a spirit that is all her own.”

With guest artists joining the Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome family throughout their set of mostly new material, the Pensacola group set a tone of respect for music tradition while fearlessly sounding the call for creative exploration.

Following Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome and making his return visit to Vinyl Music Hall, Grammy Award winning artist, Chris Thomas King added fresh new twists to a set that featured many tunes from King’s first performance in the Pensacola, Florida venue. This time around, donning a pinstriped suit, King raged with even more fire this night, skillfully weaving solos behind his head and commanding the role of devilish, party instigator of the foot stompin’ good time for every soul in the house.

***A Few Minutes With Lang Hollowman of Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome***

TCAS: Who were the guest artists for the show?

LH: We’d definitely like to thank the following for the inspiration they have on ‘their’ songs played this night: Joey & Lavinia ‘One Love’ Harrison, Jeff Glickman (percussion/harmonica), Brian Vogel (trumpet), & Mr. Virgil T. Badwater (oil drum & tambourine).

TCAS: You played quite a few songs I haven’t heard before. What is the story behind the material you played?

LH: Yes, most of the show was new songs…mainly because that’s what we’re into right now. The songs seem to be writing themselves, but its hard work to get them to reveal them to us. We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of time as just the two of us writing and playing vocally and instrumentally, and some good inspiration mixing in with everyone else in the ‘Chrome’…that just sets up a good cookin’ recipe to write ‘This Way To Glory’, ‘A Letter from John’, ‘Engine No. 9’, ‘Headed on Down the Highway’, ‘Left Hand Side’, ‘Dear Delilah’, and several others that we’re in the midst of recording right now.

TCAS: Any shows or announcements you’d like to promote?

LH: Presently we’re just focused on recording now to get through what may end up being a double album in the end. This must really be our only focus. We’re really aiming for a great production quality through the collaboration with our favorite sound designer, friend, and engineer ‘Disco’.

TCAS: Anything you would like to add?

LH: The opportunity and pleasure to share a night with a legend like Chris Thomas King, is one of only a few reasons why we share what we do with our friends (audience). Our audience, we know are our friends, and to be able to step into the audience and watch our musical favorites…well, that’s why shows are such special & humbling evenings to us. And to close, hangin’ after the night was finished at the 5 1/2 Bar with all of CTK. Patrick took care of us all, so see him as much as you can. We can’t help but to feel at home chasin’ the sun up one more time.



* Chris Thomas King, Mr. Fahrenheit, Brooks Hubbert @ Vinyl Music Hall. 02/05/11

Amid a night of red hot music, one of the most moving moments occurred when the Louisiana bluesman paid tribute to a music legend. Before the final song of the night, Chris Thomas King shared his story of working with the late Ray Charles.

“One of the coolest things I’ve done on my musical journey is go into the recording studio with the legendary Ray Charles and record some music for this movie for which he…he heard it….he couldn’t see it. But it was an amazing experience for me to watch a man who has never seen a movie before, score a movie. And I get a chance to work with him and do that. And as a tribute to a legend, we want y’all to help us out.”

Within one quick breath of his last words, King transformed Charles’ immortal piano riff intro of “What I’d Say” and smoothed his beautiful, blue Gibson ES-137guitar into service and gave the Vinyl Music Hall crowd one last fervent song to end an electric night.

Kicking off the show was local musician, Brooks Hubbert. A one-man machine of many styles and talents, Hubbert performed a set of blues music infused with helpings of beatbox breaks, charm and a smooth command of slide guitar playing.

Following Hubbert’s performance were local group, Mr. Fahrenheit. Supported by a very vocal and enthusiastic following, the members of Mr. Fahrenheit include Katy Hubbard (saxophone, vocals), R.J. McKee (guitar), Ben Minor (drums) and Robert Pennington (bass). With an eclectic, infectious sound that has jumped the crowd of every show I’ve seen of theirs into good-time mode, the stage was positively set for the main performance.

Making his Vinyl Music Hall debut, Chris Thomas King made his way to the front of the stage accompanied by Jeff Mills (drums) and Ryan Clute (bass). Having made musical contributions to the movies “Ray” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou”, King also appears in both the Academy Award winning biographical epic about the life of Ray Charles and the Grammy winning film based on Homer’s poem “Odyssey.”

With a set that included “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” an astral rendition of “St. James Infirmary Blues,” “Man of Constant Sorrow,” and “The Thrill is Gone” (a blues standard made popular by B.B. King and written by Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins), Chris Thomas King presented a healthy dose of the blues on this Saturday night.

-Michael L. Smith

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-Mr. Fahrenheit performing at The Pensacola Roller Gurlz “Coming Out Party” at The Handlebar


* Buckwheat Zydeco, Hollowman/Badwater @ Vinyl Music Hall 10/24/10

My parents took me to my first concert in 1977 to see the O’Jays perform in the Mobile Civic Center. My dad was in the Navy and we had just moved to Pensacola. It wasn’t enough that music was played constantly in our house, but we had to see it, feel it, as well as hear it being played by real musicians. Music was huge in our family, as with many families across the world; the styles may vary, but the bonds created are universal. I cannot tell you which parent is more passionate about their music, but since my mom raised me while dad traveled and served his country, her love of gospel and soul music was closest to my heart most of my young life until I became a teenager and made her endure the craziest of musical rebellions.

“Now that’s real music” is what she would say on road trips whenever her favorite songs would interrupt the miles of dark roads and nights. Mom even developed a physiological response to such music; As soon as the “real music” came on, her elbows would press against her side, her shoulders would lift up slightly and she would slowly sway her body to the music and snap her fingers to the beat. I don’t remember the details of my first concert (I had just turned 3 years old) but I do know that she has taken me to quite a few concerts when I was growing up, so to repay the favor, I try to take her to shows every now and then. I haven’t taken her to any shows recently, so when it was announced that Buckwheat Zydeco was playing Vinyl Music Hall, I decided to ask her. Her quick reply was, “Who?”

Zydeco music and the 2009 Grammy Award winner for Best Zydeco/Cajun album, usually aren’t mentioned alongside Mahalia Jackson, Betty Wright, Shirley Caesar and other artists that are familiar to my mom, but Buckwheat Zydeco (whose real name is Stanley Dural, Jr.) puts on a show that could move just about any lover of music, regardless of genre.

Opening artists for Buckwheat Zydeco’s first performance at Viny Music Hall were Hollowman/Badwater. Comprised of local favorites, Betsy Badwater and Lang Hollowman, Hollowman/Badwater gave the audience a special surprise as they played a set before and after Buckwheat Zydeco’s performance, giving everyone a tasty meal of zydeco music sandwiched between two hearty slices of the blues. Their first set quickly heated up the crowd, preparing everyone for the ensuing Zydeco invasion.

Making a quick entrance to the stage, Buckwheat Zydeco and company fired up the crowd with their fast paced and unique blend of music. Between songs, the Zydeco legend asked those in attendance, “Everybody, having fun?” which was reciprocated loudly by the crowd.

The only real pause in the set occurred when Buckwheat Zydeco haulted the music to tell a story. In what I thought was going to be a serious moment, he told a tale so full of dramatic pauses and tension that it would make the most seasoned of storytellers jealous. It was the story of how he was half asleep during a flight and two twins who were seated nearby, came to his seat, looked at him curiously and said, “Who Dat? Who Dat? Who Dat say they gonna beat them Saints?” The crowd exploded with laughter. Even I, being a Bucs fan, found the moment amusing.

Towards the end of the set, the group performed a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” which was loudly greeted with approval from the crowd. As the performance was about to close, Zydeco waved to the audience and exited the stage as a band member followed close behind him with a coat extended out, shadowing the performer as he walked away. In a move made famous by James Brown, I anticipated that Zydeco would fall to his knees while his band mate draped the coat over the exhausted entertainer’s back, to which Zydeco would throw it off and return for an encore to everyone’s delight. Zydeco didn’t throw off the coat, but he did return for an encore. This time, leaving his accordion silent, he walked to the piano that he tickled occasionally during the night, only this time, he gave the ebony beauty his full attention while seducing the audience with showmanship, soul and heart.

After finishing a song that he stated was not a cover song, but a song inspired by “Bob Marley, The Master,” he stood with wide open arms, humbly accepted the audience’s adoration, and lifted two loving peace signs. As for the previously mentioned coat, he picked it up, put it on by himself, one arm at a time, and gracefully exited the stage.

If mom had been able to attend the show, I’m pretty confident that she would have given all of the artists performing this night, her “real music” stamp of approval.

-Michael Smith

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