On Friday, Oct. 14, Mama Rue’s Blues Garden had their blow-out first anniversary shindig. Alongside Chef Eric’s fabulous jerk
chicken, collards, and Island rice with festival bread, they had the Keith Patterson Band’s official CD release party for Stone Cold Blue (which, despite the title, is over the top hot!).
Mama Rue’s is a smokin’ little juke joint just below the Hammock Shops in Pawleys Island. I don’t think they have more than ten or 11 tables inside, but the vibe is sweet , and outside there’s a big old bar with picnic tables and the main stage. I could live there.
Owners are Marrue Bleau and Chef Eric Sutherland. The duo met some 25 years ago in St. Pete’s, Fla. and have been looking for just the right spot to open a Jamaican restaurant slash blues club (Thank goodness they’re on Island time and didn’t rush into anything!) Marrue books the music and runs the bar, which includes creating some pretty magical cocktails. Eric works his magic in the kitchen.
Chef Eric is a native of Galina, Jamaica. He’s been in the States since 1979. Eric is a self-taught kind of chef. He cooks from the heart, with no recipes. He blends his own seasonings, makes his own signature hot sauce, his own jerk sauce. He buys whole seafood and he buys local.
I had a chance to talk to Eric when he came out to the bar during a brief kitchen break.
“When I was younger, I was adventurous! My first job was at the Playboy Club in Ocho Rios in Jamaica. I was determined to travel a
lot, so I then I worked for different cruise lines. Before I came to Pawleys, I was cooking in Atlanta. Now I like Pawleys; the people are friendly, always nice.”
I think Eric’s cooking must put them in a good mood … or it could just be hanging at the bar with Marrue.
She grew up in Florida and says she’s worked in and out of restaurants since she was 17.
“I was a bartender at a hotel in Palm Beach, working with a little jazz trio there, and that planted the seed of owning my own place.
Marrue has spent time in the Keys, on Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos; she’s lived on the Suwannee River. Marrue and husband Steve lived on a 27-foot sloop for a time. They took off on a motorcycle and wound up in Mobile, Ala. for a while, too.
“I met Eric when my husband and I used to hang out at his place in St. Pete’s,” says Marrue. “It was called the EZ Jamaican Cafe, and people just went to it in droves. I needed a job and he took me in.”
Marrue and Eric are in the process of expanding the menu to offer more vegetarian fare. For me, I like the stuff that moves! Curried goat, jerk pork, Wednesday night ribs, the daily catch in Jamaican butter sauce or escovitch style (with spicy vegetables). Even the lowly burger is to die for.
I love the character of the place. There are no TVs to distract from the music or the conversation. Marrue laughs when she says, “We don’t serve shooters, we serve cocktails.” And if it’s wine you want, it comes in sweet little jelly jar glasses, New Orleans style.
All that, and top drawer music, too. Marrue tells me that she’s always been drawn to early blues. At Mama Rues, though, she’s
running the gamut. Of blues, that is. Earlier this month, Mississippi John Doude was in the
house! Local bluesman Todd Roth of My Buddy Todd is a regular player. You can catch George Davis playing a set or two, as well. Rootsy, bluesy gospel duo Blue Mother Tupelo played to a packed house this summer. Rickey Godfrey brought his hot rockin’ blues to Mama Rue’s and folks are still talking about it.
That brings me back to the Keith Patterson Band, another rockin’ blues band, somewhat reminiscent of the seventies, when it was hard to tell the difference between blues rock and hard rock.
Keith’s 11-track debut CD, Stone Cold Blue is solid blues rock, dominated by guitar and B3. I can’t do a full-on review here, but the disc is in my car player and I’ve got it loud!
The five-piece band includes Keith Patterson on guitar; Daniel Korzelius singing lead vocals; John Taylor on drums; Brian Mckenzie, guitar and lap steel; and Drew Jacobs on bass.
They put on a great show. My guess is they’ll be back at Mama Rue’s before too long. YEAH!
Once again, I’m a happy girl, with some lip-rippin’ food and cool sounds to boot.
On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 23, from noon until 7 p.m. at the Triangle Lounge in Wilmington, N.C., it’s Jim Quick’s Big Fish Shtick. And our boy knows how to party! There will be four bands this year – JQ & Coastline, the Castaways, 40 East and Band of Oz, plus deejay Joey Warren, who always puts the fun in fundraiser.
Ticket donations are $25 each for this event and all proceeds go to United Cerebral Palsy of Wilmington (www.ucp.org). So be sweet. Open up your hearts and your pocketbooks.
Come hungry kids, cause you be eatin’ all day. Jones Fish Camp will be on hand with fish and fixin’s. Boom Boom’s BBQ will be front and center. Plus you’ll have fried shrimp and Captain Crain’s World Famous Shrimp Stew. Think I’m gonna faint!
The music don’t get no stronger … Jim Quick & Coastline, where swamp funk meets smart. Quick is a lyrical Energizer bunny with soul.
Wilmington-based 40 East is a new band for me, one I can’t wait to hear. From what I’ve listened to on the web, they’re kind of crossover country pop with a little R&B thrown in for good measure.
The Castaways are one of those beach bands who like to mix it up. You can expect to hear their signature beach tunes along with some great soul sounds and some killer rock and roll. If we’re lucky, lead vocalist Karen Clayton will treat us to her version of “I (Who Have Nothing),” originally released by Ben E. King back in 1963. Goose bump time!
Last but not least, Band of Oz, frat band turned pro, and one of the most sought-after beach bands on the scene. These guys have been winning awards and hearts for years.
As with any fundraise worth its salt, the Big Fish Shtick will have auctions, raffles, door prizes and more.For any of you extra generous folks, sponsorship packages are still available at $250, $500 and $1,000 levels. Go to the website for details (www.bigfishshtick.com).
Piedmont Blues refers to a regional subcategory of blues, which is characterized by ragtime-based rhythms associated mostly with African-American musicians of the southeastern U.S.
Freddie Vanderford is Piedmont blues. Born in the tiny town of Buffalo, S.C., he grew up listening to his grandad playing harmonica, though more of a mountain style than blues. Freddie started playing guitar at ten years old, appearing on the Farmer Gray show on WSPA radio in Spartanburg, S.C. and the Bob Ledford TV show on Channel 13 in Asheville, N.C.
He credits “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson as an important musical influence in his life.
“I met ‘Peg Leg Sam’ when I was about 15,” Freddie tells me.
Jackson was a percussive harp player with a talent for storytelling. A rough sort of character who played in a traveling medicine show, he lost his leg in a hoboing accident and part of an ear in a shooting.
“I first heard him play harmonica on this little AM radio station. I found out that he lived close by, so I started going to see him. At first he wouldn’t play for me. I played for him.
”He was a crazy old guy, but a good guy,” Freddie says, laughing, “I started carrying wood for him, I’d take him to buy liquor, I’d take him to gamble. Guys would have their straight razors and pistols out on the table. Didn’t see a lot of cheatin’,” he laughs.
“Eventually, he’d play, and then I’d play. We’d go out to where they sold moonshine. Someone would pull out a dollar. And then someone else would pull out a dollar, and this would go on all day.
“Greasy Greens was one of Peg Leg Sam’s tunes, and that’s why it’s the title track on my album.”
Greasy Greens is an album that’s chock full of Piedmont harmonica blues and more, and I love every minute of it. The 16-track recording includes originals by Freddie Vanderford, some traditional blues and some unexpected covers.
The opening track, and one of my favorites is the traditional tune “She Can Cook Good Sallett.” And by the way, that’s Upstate guitar sensation, Brandon Turner on acoustic guitar. “Trouble Come Knocking,” one of Freddie’s own pieces, rocks the room and “Greasy Greens” made popular by Pink Anderson is another fave.
The Josh White adaption, “One Meatball” is just pure pleasure. Freddie offers up a tasty version of Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind” and does Townes Van Zandt proud with “White Freightliner Blues.”
Johnny Cash fans, you’ll be happy to hear Vanderford’s versions of “Delia” and “I Still Miss Someone.”
Freddy Vanderford is the 2010 recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for his Piedmont blues harp work and is being featured in a special B&C Art Museum exhibition melding S.C. music and visual art.
Players on the CD include: Freddie Vanderford (lead vocals, harp); Brandon Turner (acoustic, electric, resophonic and steel guitar; banjo; acoustic bass; snare drum; bongos; djembe and backing vocals); Matthew Knights Williams (acoustic guitar, backing vocals); Don McGraw (electric bass); Fayssoux McLean (backing vocals); T.J. Jeter (kick drum and hammers; drums and bongos); David Ezell (acoustic guitar, backing vocals); Wes Wyatt
I spent a good many years, most of my twenties, thirties and then some, in L.A. and I often just ache
for California sounds and sensibilities. So when I heard that outlaw singer/songwriter Steve Young was coming to perform at a South By Southeast concert in Myrtle Beach, I was very excited. Besides just being a fan of his talent, I knew the Georgia born musician had also been a transplant to L.A. and figured he’d be telling stories and playing some California music.
I wasn’t disappointed. This Southern boy has a soft spot for L.A. and it shows in his lyrics. “Silverlake” (Switchblades of Love/1993), which he performed simply and beautifully, is an unabashed love letter to a neighborhood just near downtown L.A. When Steve lived there back in the late 60s, it was a sweet little barrio and artists’ refuge … before it became “too gentrified,” as he commented during the show. I love his line, “Silverlake is about more than gold.”
His rendition of Warren Zevon’s “Carmelita,” an edgy tale of a heroin addict on the skids, was somehow starkly warm, fitting because Los Angeles is the ultimate contradiction.
But let me get off the California bent here and talk about this artist, and artist he is.
Growing up throughout the South, Young was an early Elvis fan and by his teenage years was already a skillful guitarist. He moved to New York City in the early 60s, becoming part of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village.
Steve Young’s music is hard to pigeonhole. It’s blues, it’s folk, it’s country, it’s even Celtic. But above all it’s Southern, and it’s soulful.
The South By Southeast show was a super all-acoustic concert, just a songwriter and his music.
Steve’s son Jumal Lee Young was supposed to join him at the Music Feast, but he’s been sick and couldn’t make it.
So, for two hours, Steve Young shared his tales of the road with us, giving us the backstory for each tune, very much the same format as his live album, Stories Round the Horseshoe Bend (2007). Just a songwriter and his music. And a wicked sense of humor.
“The song’s pretty famous; I’m not, but the song is,” he quips, introducing “Seven Bridges Road”(Rock Salt & Nails/1969), his tune that was recorded live by the Eagles for their Eagles Live album (1980). It was also covered by Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton and Tracy Nelson, among others.
Talking about “Lonesome On’ry & Mean”(Seven Bridges Road/1972), Young’s tune made famous by outlaw country artist Waylon Jenning, the songwriter deadpans, “Yeah, I don’t know why Waylon wanted to make this his image, but he did. I mean the song’s about givin’ up drink and drugs and performing sober. Waylon never realized that.”
Other tunes he performed included his “White Trash Song”(Seven Bridges Road/1972) about his family, mind you; the eloquent “Montgomery In the Rain” (Seven Bridges Road/1972), a hit by Hank Williams, Jr. and traditional songs like “Little Birdie” and “Hoboin’.”
It occurred to me during these old folk tunes, that Young’s talents as a vocalist and his arrangements are equal to his songwriting skills – which are considerable.
If you get a chance to experience Steve Young live, jump at it. This is exactly why I “Trust the Frog.” (www.steveyoung.net)