Livin' With The Blues In Salina
Written by Dave Glackin
Deitra Farr, reportedly "one of Chicago's top vocalists," brought the house down with her high-energy no-nonsense vocal style. She was one of my favorite acts of the festival, although photographing her presented a real challenge. Toward the end of her set, she ended up practically making love to one of the cameramen through the lens. That footage may never make it onto DVD...
Sweet Betty (Betty Echols Journey) really belted out the tunes, and provided the perfect act to follow Dietra. Her style was rather mesmerizing and totally natural.
The crowd was in for a real treat as Dietra and Betty took the stage together. What a great duo! These two deserve all the fame and fortune that they can find in the music business. After Alvin Youngblood Hart, this was my favorite act of the festival.
Tony Joe White got the crowd up and applauding with his unique version of harmonica and electric guitar. With his shades and guitar amp set to 10+ on the "grit" scale, my good friend John Volk dubbed him the "swamp Lou Reed." According to the festival flier, White's songs have been recorded by "Elvis, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Etta James, John Mayall, ... Waylon Jennings and Dusty Springfield." (Ten bucks says it wasn't Dusty's famous cover of "The Look of Love.") He was the easiest musician of the festival to photograph, as he just sat there and played his ass off. Here is a selection of my best pics, painfully edited from many candidates.
For the 2003 festival, Chad chose to show us where some of the roots of the blues lie, namely in gospel music, and he had a church to play it in to boot. The Campbell Brothers play pedal steel guitar (Chuck Campbell) and lap steel guitar (Darick Campbell). With Denise Brown on vocals for most of the set, this group really got the crowd jumpin' (for Jesus, as it happened). Stan Ricker and I were both wondering just how much this old church could take. If the whole crowd had been going in unison, the Campbell Brothers might have literally brought down the house. Instead, they only did it figuratively. The energy that flowed out of Denise Brown during her vocals looked like it was sourced straight from Hoover Dam.
Meanwhile, back in the recording booth, I found my close friend Stan Ricker (right) enjoying the music with Gus Skinas (left) of Sony.
Here Gus is shown with his Sony Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recorder, mastering what could be a stunner of an SACD. Let's hope that Chad chooses to issue this one soon.
As the concert was ending, I captured Myra Taylor in the front row, basking in the glow of the festival. Myra was big in the Kansas City jazz and blues scene in the forties. Chad had the good sense to release a first-class recording of her on LP, CD and SACD, entitled "My Night to Shine." I recently gave a copy of this to a close friend of mine who grew up in KC in the forties, and it has literally become the favorite recording in her entire collection. (Very, very highly recommended.)
Here is the man who made this all possible, pictured with his wife Lydia and an unidentified member of the audience, just as the festival was drawing to a close. My best wishes to Chad for many more successful years of stunning Blues Masters at the Crossroads festivals. It's become an event that I can't bear to miss.
Here are a beaming Denise Brown of the Campbell Brothers (left), Myra Taylor, and Chad Kassem, still basking in the glow of two nights of simply bodacious blues. Until next year!