Blues Notes from Waterside

By Wally Stewart. Photos by Jean Metcalfe

I was admiring some tremendous art at the Waterside Arts & Blues Festival on July 3 when I encountered one of the publishers of Louisville Music News, who asked me to note my observations of the Festival and I agreed.

I was unable to arrive early enough each day to catch the mainstage performances, so their omission is for that reason only.

Metro Blues All-Star Rodney Hatfield bens over backward for the blues fans

On Friday, July 3, the weather was great after the sun had set, due to a severe thunderstorm the previous night that had significantly lowered both the temperature and humidity from levels the area had been experiencing.

As Curtis & the Kicks opened the show, the crowd was smaller than I had anticipated, but it reminded me of a patchwork quilt, with many colors of clothing, blankets and chairs seemingly sewn together. About forty minutes into the set C&K played a near requisite for a blues fest "Sweet Home Chicago." Several people heard the show "free," thanks to the large grassy slope at the adjacent Kingfish Restaurant. The Beat Daddys followed and the crowd inside the festival had grown by quite a bit.

At eleven o'clock the audience hushed as Marcia Ball made her third consecutive visit to town and sang one of my favorites "The Power of Love." She displayed those amazing "lightning fingers" on the keys and her trademark swinging right leg. As the set closed sometime after midnight Marcia declared, "The Louisville Curse is broken!" She referred to problems on past trips here.

On Saturday, the fourth, the evening crowd came earlier and was treated to gorgeous weather. I talked local blues fans Dallas Embry and John Brock into sharing a funnel cake while listening to the Legendary Blues Band. John washed the confection down with some gumbo; what a combination that must have been. At 10 a lot of oohs and ahs were heard when fireworks became visible a few miles behind the stage. The vivid explosions of color teamed with Charlie Musselwhite's harmonica explosions for a great show.

Lonnie Broonks waits at Waterside.

Around 11:30 Pinetop Perkins and LBB were belting out some old-time blues; it was probably the act I enjoyed the most.

I told Dallas that I could be a blues musician if I didn't have to play an instrument, as I had the mandatory facial expressions down pretty good. He basically replied "Me too," and we instantly formed the Louisville Air Blues Band. (You hr.-. it first in the LMN.) Our first "airing" will cover Gary Moore's "Still Got the Blues," and I've got dibs on lead guitar.

Da Mudcats opened the evening program on Sunday and on their last number Susan 0'Neil was backed by "The Suzettes," two friends recruited from backstage. It was a fun start for the last night of the festival.

I always enjoy the Metropolitan Blues AllStars and they were up next. One of their new songs, "I Would Do for You," is already a hit with me. After listening to them and while waiting for Big Shoulders, I watched the sun fading over the Ohio River and the long lines at the Port-O-Lets. The river glistened magnificently.

While Lonnie Brooks jammed hot blues I stepped some hot licks in front of the stage with a certain music newspaper editor.

I guess rain could only stay away for so long and it finally started falling during this last set. I went back to Indiana looking forward to next year's festival and hoping to see more of it.