BLUESLBLUESBLUESBLUESBLUESBLUESBLUES

By Jean Metcalfe

Along about the time The Rib Tip Kings really got into their set, and continuing throughout the hot set of Curtis and the Kicks, I experienced that feel-good feeling that I get every time I see the scene in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" where the characters are gettin' down to Vince Gueraldi's lively music instead of practicing their Christmas play. Huh? Well, watch for a rerun of the cartoon on teevee later this year and I think you'll understand what I've just said.

The denizens of the asphalt dance floor at the intersection of Oak Street and Garvin Place on October 11 ignored the semaphores that normally control the flow of traffic when it is not closed for the Garvin Gate Blues Festival.

Foree Wells, winner of the Sylvester Weaver Award. Photo by Jean Metcalfe

The Shufflin' Grand Dads certainly didn't live up (down?) to their monikker as they kicked off the festival with a wonderful version of hit songwriter Alan Rhody's "Louisville Loves the Blues." Rhody ("Trainwreck of Emotion," "I'll Be True to You" and "Wild-Eyed Dream"), who lives in Nashville, was on hand in his Derby City hometown for his tune's debut, as was John O'Connor and the television cameras of Channel 11's Louisville Tonight show. (Even a brief bit o' the blues would have been a welcome respite from the nefarious Senate confirmation hearings.)

Tommy Cosden (a.k.a. Cosmo) did the vocal honors on "Blues" and charmed the audience (this writer, at least) when he said, "I know this is a blues festival, but we're old rock 'n' rollers. We're gonna do some rock 'n' roll for you. Y'all don't mind, do you?"

Not me, Cosmo! Not me! And I didn't hear anyone else grousing either, as handsome MERF President Wayne Young played guitar and shared the vocal honors. Bassist Ron Payne, drummer Marvin Maxwell and Pete Peterson and Bob Ramsey on keyboards ably rounded out the Grand Dads.

Yes, Louisville does love the blues. The old man with a hat and cane loved the Garvin Gate blues. So did the tiny pre-schooler; And each danced according to his or her individual talents. Those who didn't dance enjoyed watching those who did. If there had been a contest for the dancer having the most fun and if I had been the judge, the trophy would have gone to a tall, reed-thin, who-knows-what-age gent who had to go it alone after unsuccessfully trying to get a companion to join him on the dance pavement But he eventually "met his match," as the old phrase goes: A young woman took him on and by song's end (and you know how long a blues number goes on) I thought he looked a little frazzled. But it wasn't long before he was at it again. Whew!

Rock 'n' Roller Cosmo loves the blues, too. Photo by Jean Metcalfe.

The Derby City Blues Review certainly did their part, as did Foree Wells & the Walnut Street Blues Band. Very entertaining.

KYANA Blues Society President Perry Aberli delayed the start of Foree Wells' set to present the dapper bluesman with the Society's third annual Sylvester Weaver Award. Named for the late Louisville blues guitarist, the award is presented to a local artist in recognition of his/her dedication to the perpetuation of the blues. The first two awards went to Henry Woodruff and Jim Rosen, respectively.

A red satin jacket presented to Wells by Society Secretary Keith Clements brought a huge smile of appreciation from the likable bluesman who in the '50s had a group called The Red Coats.

The weather was great for the fourth annual Garvin Gate Blues Festival. And the attendance was good and the music was most enjoyable. My only complaint, which I registered with Secretary Clements, was that there wasn't a booth selling the tasty red beans and rice that I had remembered from last year. Clements reply: "If that's the only thing that's wrong, then I guess we're doing all right." Agreed.

Perhaps the tasty concoction was available on Saturday. Unfortunately, I was not on hand for what surely must have been an entertaining lineup of blues: Kush Griffith and the Sunstroke Blues Band featuring Smoketown Red, The King Bees, Lamont and the Homewreckers, The Sonny Love Band, da Mudcats, Chicago's The Professor's (Eddie Lusk) Blues Review, who were joined later by Alligator recording artist Maurice John Vaughn.

The blues moved indoors both evenings at about 11 p.m. for a Blues Jam and Social hosted by MR2 BLUE (on Friday) and by Society President Rocky Amaretto and the One Night Only Blues Allstars featuring Winston Hardy (Saturday). Whole lotta blues going on. Sorry I had to miss those events.

Yes, Louisville indeed loves the blues and this writer is a Louisvillian.