Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

June 25th, 2007

The sun shone down favorably upon blues fans Saturday for the 5th Annual Blues Picnic sponsored by the Madison Blues Society.

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

The Dulcinea and I made our way to Warner Park around three o’clock and found it pretty crowded. Folks were hanging out on the lawn and milling about the food stands and, of course, the bier garten. I was pleased to see that Capital was a sponsor and immediately grabbed a Fest. Playing was the Charles Walker Blues Band. Here’s the band’s leader.

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

I thought they were pretty good but it just seemed like the performance was missing something. However, when Miss Shanna Jackson started singing, the situation improved dramatically. I loved her voice and she really tore it up on T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday Blues”.

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

With their set over, The Dulcinea and I wandered around and was immediately attracted to Jada’s Soul Food which had a stand. I got some ribs and peach cobbler. Curiously enough, The D, who earlier had said she wasn’t that hungry, suddenly got all famished. Who can blame her. The ribs were outstanding! The meat was tender and juicy and the sauce wasn’t too sweet. The peach cobbler was great as well. We are definitely going to have to get us some take out soon. For dessert I had some jerk pork from Jamerica, which is customary fare for me at just about any outdoor Madison event.

Needing a refill, it was off to the bier garten where we found a nice spot. Soon Old Man Standiford showed up followed a short time later by Pete. And a bit after that Dogger appeared along with Miss Regan. We drank beer and shot the bull before heading over an adjacent volleyball court which Regan took to be the biggest sandbox she’d ever seen. She managed to inveigle some other kids to bury her in the sand.

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

Hanging out on the lawn, I heard some of the other bands but really didn’t pay too much attention. The Cash Box Kings sounded OK. I presume it was Livin’ Will that did the cover of “Voodoo Chile” that I heard. They seemed to be on the rock’n'roll side of the blues and heavily influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughn whose music is not really to my taste. Not bad but SRV has never really been my thing.

As dusk approached, my friends had places to go and a child who needed a nap so it was just The D and I for the final set of the night by Bobby Bryan & the Original Downtown Players.

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

These guys were awesome! Musically, they were tight but loose with Robert Cray being an obvious comparison. The only song I can recall the title of is “The Devil’s Playground”.

Drummer Rick Flowers:

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

Bassist Lon Walker:

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

The man himself:

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

Steve Skaggs is on keys but I don’t have any photos of him with me at the moment. They were able to play straight ahead blues ala Cray or Albert Collins and then seamlessly go into a song that veered towards rock only to follow it up with something that smelled like funk. I can see why they won the MBS Wisconsin Blues Challenge. Bryan had a great rapport with the audience and, as with all great bluesmen, he knew how to fire up the audience with a little showmanship. Playing with his teeth, playing on his knees – I was reminded of seeing the great Lonnie Brooks at the Crystal Corner several years ago.

I recorded a wee bit of video so you can check out Bobby Bryan for yourself.

bbryan vid I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues
(Right-click on the photo & save the file [Quicktime].)

I am rather hoping that Bryan can spark a blues renaissance, of sorts, here in Madison. The MBS’ calendar has a number of weekly shows which is a good thing. But most of the rest of the events are blues festivals and none of them are in Madison. Don’t blues musos swing through town anymore? Maybe I’m just not paying attention but it sure seemed that folks like Lonnie Brooks and Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials would play here at the Crystal or the Harmony much more often than they do.

Anyway, a good time was had by all. I managed to catch a couple out by the pond at dusk.

 I Went to a Picnic and Got the Blues

Related posts:

  1. Koko Taylor and the Madison Blues Scene
  2. Show #110: B.B. King at the Madison Blues Festival
  3. Blues from the Delta to Chicago and Beyond
  4. Show #75: The V.D. Blues
  5. Upcoming Shows – 19 June 2007

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