Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Artis Lounge and Billy Branch

I know I have written about this before and by now you may be sick of reading about it, but I’m going to write it over and over again.  Artis Lounge on a Monday night is the place to be in Chicago, period. Billy Branch without a doubt is the world’s best blues harmonica player performing today. He and his band, the Sons of Blues take the genre to a level that few performers will ever achieve.  

Billy jokes about the band being classically trained musicians and after that statement Dan, the guitar player, kicks that John Lee Hooker riff ala “Boom Boom” as the crowd leaps to its feet. Their version is pure nostalgia blues musicality. I for one could not contain myself. I am not much of a dancer and I do feel like a dork doing so, but I did not care. I think it is because age gives us an excuse to act stupid or is it youth.  I could never figure that one out and the older I become the less I care what people think.  I did it anyway.  No matter.  People did not pay attention to me because all eyes and ears were fixated on the north end of Artis’.

In attendance last night was Sharon Lewis. Sharon is a blues vocalist beyond compare. She and the SOB band dominated a version of “Ernestine” and it was superb. 

Also “In The House” was Eddie Shaw. Eddie is one of the few remaining members of the wolf pack. He was Howlin’ Wolf’s sax man. Eddie is old school and this author absolutely loves old school blues.  Eddie’s voice is as smooth as silk and brings one back to a different era, time and place.  He is truly a master of the blues and truly a real live connection to the golden era.

Ronnie Baker Brooks was there too.  I have seen Ronnie on many occasions and he, like Billy, is an ultimate showman. He played the song “Stuck on Stupid” and then broke into “Hand me down my Walking cane”.  If you have not seen Ronnie Baker Brooks you must. He is old school/new school and I pure joy to see and hear. He can blues you, then rock you and all within the framework of the three chord environment.  I have met a lot of people in the blues community and Ronnie is one of the greats and a true gentleman. I also might add that we had a very nice conversation about staying on the 1. You musicians know what I’m talking about. 

Electro Glide records recording artist Jimmy Warren was also there, but did not stay long enough to play as he had a very early recording session Tuesday morning.  His next performance will be September 11, 2020 at Governor State University.   This is an all star night of the blues which includes Ronnie’s dad, Lonnie Brooks.   

Paris (vocalist) was there and had just returned from an eight month tour with Melvin Taylor.  She did not get a chance to sing, but I hope she returns next Monday and does.

The legendary Twist Turner was in attendance. Twist is the blues go to guy if anyone needs an in the pocket solid drummer.  I tell you this man has played with all the greats. I do not have enough space here to list them all. The list of who he did not play with would be much easier to produce. It would be a very short list indeed. I might add that Twist is a  prolific songwriter that has  many a tune. Just go to youtube and put in his name and listen . 

Billy branch is one super entertainer and I might add one extraordinary gentleman. It is a pure privilege to be accepted into Blues Ville by all these great artists.  I am humbled by the artists that are in this great city of Chicago. Billy calls it the blues capital of the planet. I have to say he is correct.

Terry Lape AKA  “Gatorman”  
Artis Lounge is located at 1249 east 87th Street Chicago, Illinois


Maralyn said...

Unbelievable Monday night at Artis Lounge. Great old divey blues bar...dug it tremendously. Billy Branch is always thrilling to listen to and I saw many more blues greats that blew me away. Even though it was a "school night", it was worth it!!