Published since 2005
Brenda Knepper is a creative director, illustrator and calligrapher.
The Blue Cafe was rocking on Saturday night, November 26, 2005, with a line-up that included Joe Wood and the Lonely Ones, Buck Wildstar and the inimitable Walter Trout and the Radicals. A popular blues venue that features live music almost every night, the Blue Cafe is located in downtown Long Beach, California. The club features two stages, upstairs and down, two bars, billiards and an outdoor patio. Open from 11:30AM until 1:30AM on weekends, the Blue Cafe also offers full lunch and dinner menus. Walter Trout was the big draw on Saturday night and, with a reasonable $15 cover charge, he drew a packed house.
Appearing regularly at the Blue Cafe as the house band, Joe Wood and the Lonely Ones featured Wood's bluesy vocals and K.K. Martin on lead guitar. On Saturday they played from 5:30 to 8:30PM. Born and raised in Long Beach, singer/songwriter Joe Wood's background includes a lengthy stint as the lead vocalist for the '80s punk rock band, True Sounds of Liberty (TSOL). Transforming into a blues musician while maintaining his hard rock roots, Wood has played with many of his heroes including B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.
Wood has a powerful voice that's perfect for the blues. "You ready, K.K.? You going to catch up? Joe asked as the group started their first number aptly entitled "Without Time, as Martin hurredly set up. Although adept on the guitar, it is clear that Wood's voice is his main instrument. His vocals ranged from screaming wails, gruff shouts, rhythmic rockin' rap, and a smooth blues sound. The group played B.B. King's "Don't Answer the Door and I would have liked to have heard less of the heavy rock accompaniment and more of Wood's plaintive, wailing voice ("tell her to PLEEAAAASE stay away, cause I don't want a soul, baby, hangin' around my house ). Martin's soulful solos on the guitar were reminiscent of Hendrix.
Joe Wood extends his creativity to the visual artsan outsider artist with no formal art training, he produces expressionistic acrylic and oil paintings that feature musical legends such as Johnny Cash, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Muddy Waters. Some of his work was exhibited at the Blue Cafe on Saturday. His most recent CD, The Lonely Ones, is at www.cdbaby.com. Check out the Joe Wood website at www.joewoodmusicandart.com.
In anticipation of Walter Trout's performance at 10:30PM, the place was packed by 9:00PM, when opening act Buck Wildstar came on. Buck Wildstar is an Inland Empire blues trio that has been together since 1997. Lead vocalist and guitarist Geoff Gurrola started out with "Be My Woman backed up by Jo Jo Hughes on drums and Bobby Abarca on bass guitar. Gurrola proved to be a very hot guitarist and a good singer. Picking up the tempo they moved into a energetic rendition of "Feelin' Pretty Good for the Shape I'm In. They ended their set with a lengthy improvised version of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want. Gurrola has been called one of the premier blues guitarists in the Inland Empire and Jo Jo Hughes has solid percussion skills. There was an enthusiastic crowd gathered around the stage by the time they wrapped up at 10:00PM. Information about the group's CD can be found at www.buckwildstar.com.
Coming back from a series of concerts in the Netherlands and Denmark, this was Walter Trout and the Radical's only Southern California appearance on their Deep Trout tour and the word had gotten out. After a delay in setting up, the crowd gave a cheer when the guys finally started warming up with Trout shouting, "after some testical difficulties, we've got some balls back in the situation! And that they did. Skillfully backed up by Sammy Avila on keyboard, Joey Pafumi on drums and Rick Knapp on bass, Trout plays hard rocking blues. "Life in the Jungle started with a slow tempo that rose to a scream. "Kill the Monkey, from his latest CD, had a great guitar soloTrout has an over-the-top mastery of the six-strings.
New Jersey-born Trout spent years playing guitar behind greats such as John Lee Hooker, Joe Tex and Big Mama Thornton. In 1981, he joined Canned Heat, remaining with them for several years. Trout plays the guitar as an extension of himselfwhen he screams, it screams. The man knows how to get some incredible sounds out of his instrument and the crowd at the Blue Cafe was enthralled. The Los Angeles Times describes Trout as a "torrential, gladiator guitaristthe kind the term 'guitar hero' was coined to describe. Walter Tout is not to be missed if you like fiery, intense playing. This was a testosterone-injected evening of rockin' blues!
Trout's latest CD, Deep Trout, is available at www.waltertrout.com.
Photo Credit: Richard Boyles
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