DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Port City Gets a Groove On

Posted in Interviews, Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on July 11, 2011


Being a fine old southern city, Wilmington, N.C. is steeped in tradition, and one of its favorites is the upcoming Cape Fear Blues Festival set for July 29 – 31.

Three days of blues in the Port City will include live concerts, a blues workshop, an all-day blues jam, a guitar raffle and the always popular Blues Cruise aboard Wilmington’s Henrietta III.

Nashville's Rickey Godfrey (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Headlining the main deck on the Friday night Cruise will be Nashville guitarist Rickey Godfrey and his band.

“Rickey is a consummate entertainer,” said Cape Fear Blues Society president Lan Nichols in a telephone interview. “He’s a master on guitar … and has a really emotional voice. Rickey reads his audience and knows exactly what to give.”

Godfrey, who has been blind since birth, has been nominated for both guitarist and keyboard player of the year by the Music City Blues Society. He’s touring now as a featured guitarist with the Cee Cee James Band, so this is a rare opportunity to see the Rickey Godfrey Blues Band.
Above the main deck, fans will be treated to the retro blues of Wilmington’s own wildly popular Ten Dollar Thrill. Up in the atrium will be acoustic storyteller Tampa Blue.

Cruisers will be noshing on heavy appetizers provided by Angie’s of Chris’s Restaurant and no doubt enjoying the three different cash bars.

Get to the Blues Cruise a little early so you can enjoy Rick Tobey on the dock before you board.

The boat departs promptly at 7:30 p.m., but be sure to get there early enough to enjoy blues veteran Rick Tobey singing his unique brand of Chickenhead blues on the dock before boarding.

The Henrietta III will return to dock by around 9:30, and you’ll want to head right over to  the Port City’s favorite blues saloon, the Rusty Nail, where The Treblemakers will be rockin’ the room with their electric blues/classic surf sounds!
Presented by the Cape Fear Blues Society, the Festival has a reputation for bringing top talent to town while it also showcases the best in local and regional blues artists.

According to Nichols, this year is no exception. Saturday begins with a free

Guitarist Eric Manning is presenting this year's blues workshop.

blues workshop conducted by Raleigh-based guitarist Eric Manning and sponsored by longtime Festival supporter Finkelstein Music. Following the workshop will be a performance, also free, by Manning’s band, E-Train & the Rusted Rails, at The Cellar in downtown Wilmington.

The Festival’s Saturday headliner is Studebaker John & the Hawks (The name refers to a Studebaker Hawk, a car he still owns).

“John is a triple threat,” said Nichols. “He plays great guitar, harmonica and has an excellent voice, too. He’s got a lot of old-school Chicago in his sound, but can rock out, too.”

Born in Chicago as John Grimaldi, he started playing harmonica at about seven years old, and was greatly influenced by Chicago’s famed Maxwell Street. He learned guitar after watching a single electrified slide guitar performance of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers.

Studebaker John & the Hawks headline the Saturday night concert at the Rusty Nail. YAY!

Currently on tour through the U.S. and Canada, Studebaker John talked by phone about his newest CD, Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings’ That’s the Way You Do (Delmark 2010). The 15-track recording is essentially a tribute to all the musicians who performed on Maxwell Street.

“It was a labor of love for me. I started thinking about it years ago, when I was on a bigger blues label, but they didn’t think it was commercial.

“Then last year, I was working at St. George Records, playing a session for Delta Slim, and these two musicians – Rick Kreher on guitar and Steve Cushing on drums – were there and I thought that maybe we could do it.

“The three of us were able to conjure up a sound.

“I wanted it to be a tribute, but still original.  It’s the same line-up as Hound Dog Taylor: two guitars, drum, and harmonica … I’ve always been a fan of Less Is More.”

His Rusty Nail show on Saturday night will include tunes from the new CD as well as the full band sound of Studebaker John & the Hawks.  Don’t miss this one!

Opening for Studebaker John, by the way, is local acoustic fave, Spider Mike Bochey, so get there early.

The Sunday blues jam starts at noon, and this is always a great event. There are a lot of great players in Wilmington, and they come out of the woodwork for this event, so get ready to be entertained. Bring a lawn chair, but leave your coolers home. There will be plenty of food and drink for sale.

The Jam ends at 6 p.m. with the Finkelstein Music Guitar Giveaway—a Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet guitar ($850 value). Raffle tickets cost $1 each with proceeds supporting the projects and programs of the Cape Fear Blues Society.

Raffle tickets are available at Finkelstein Music and The Rusty Nail.

For more information about the Cape Fear Blues Festival visit http://www.capefearblues.org or call 910-350-8822.
©Dariel Bendin.

Festival Schedule
Friday, July 29
5:30 p.m. Live blues on the dock. (Water St. at Dock St.) Blues soloist Rick Tobey will  treat you to the blues,  Chickenhead style, as you wait to board.
7 p.m. Boarding begins.
7:30 p.m.  Blues Cruise on the Henrietta III! Headliner Rickey Godfrey brings his gritty, soulful blues to the main deck. Wilmington’s own Ten Dollar Bill will be rockin’ the party deck. Storyteller Tampa Blue will be in the atrium. Tickets are $49 (www.wilmingtontickets.com). Or call 910-350-8822.
9 p.m. Post-Cruise Party featuring The Treblemakers at the Rusty Nail, 1310 S. 5th Ave. (910-251-1888).
Saturday, July 30
11 a.m. Blues workshop sponsored by Finkelstein Music: blues guitarist/vocalist/ songwriter Eric Manning followed by an outdoor set of  jump blues and rockabilly from Manning’s band E-Train & the Rusted Rail at The Cellar, 35 N. Front St. Free.
8 p.m. Festival concert. Headliner Studebaker John & the Hawks. A night of electric blues from a Chicago legend. Opening act Spider Mike Bochey, at the Rusty Nail, 1310 S. 5th Ave. (910-251-1888). Tickets $8 advance/$10 at the door.(www.capefearblues.org or http://www.wilmingtontickets.com)
Sunday, July 31
Noon – 6 p.m. All-day blues jam under the tent at the Rusty Nail. Free.
6 p.m. Guitar raffle announced. Note: you don’t have to be on hand to win! Raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5. A steal!

Port City Blues Fest July 23 – 25

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on July 16, 2010

This year the Cape Fear Blues Festival is celebrating its fifteenth birthday and it will be another birthday bash to write  home about. From July 23  – 25, Wilmington, N.C. will be full of blues fans ready to take in one great show after another.

Bill “Sauce Boss” Wharton is headlining the Festival’s Friday night Blues Cruise. (Photo David "Steam" Smith)

The Festival opens Friday night with the traditional Blues Cruise aboard the triple deck Henrietta III riverboat at the corner of Water Street and Dock. The two-hour party along the Cape Fear will be rockin’ with performances by Bill “Sauce Boss” Wharton and his band. The only thing hotter than his slide guitar is his  Liquid Summer Hot Sauce. I want me some of both! Locals Dusty Long & Friends and Rick Tobey will be adding to the fun, and don’t forget to check out Spider Mike Bochey as you board.(Tickets $49).

Over at the Rusty Nail, the Dynamic Thermotones will take the stage at 9 p.m. for a night of blues-driven R&B. And don’t be surprised if things get funky! Love this band! The Rusty Nail, located at 1310 South 5th St., is a typical little juke joint, and one of my faves. It’s home to Wilmington’s weekly blues jam. Call the club at 910-251-1888 for ticket info  (Tickets $5).

Saturday’s the big day and the festival concert is moving back to Legion Stadium under the tent. Yay! This year, according to everyone’s blues buddy, Festival organizer Lan Nichols, there will be five blues acts  starting at noon and going pretty much nonstop until almost 7 p.m. Here’s the lineup: Mac Arnold & Plate Full ‘O Blues, Jen & Tonic, Tampa Blue, the Cape Fear Blues Jam Band and Blind Lemon Pledge.

Mac Arnold has toured and recorded with the Muddy Waters Band. You will love the funked up soul-blues of Mac Arnold & Plate Full ‘O Blues.

Jen & Tonic is a group I’ve been wanting to see live. They put out a great blend of classic blues and soul, throwing in some contemporary stuff  just to mix it up.

If you’re into finger-style guitar and acoustic blues, you’ll especially enjoy the soulful sound of Florida’s Tampa Blue.

Local Wilmington group Blind Lemon Pledge, although fairly new to the scene, was the 2009 Cape Fear Blues Challenge winner. They feature Jaime Michele on lead vocals and Mark Scott on guitar and vocals. Last, but not least, is local favorite Cape Fear Blues Jam Band.

By the way, parking is free. You’ll find plenty of food and drink vendors, restrooms and even games for the kids. Don’t forget  your lawn chairs and blankets. (Tickets $12 advance/$15 at the gate).

Saturday night, there’s another shindig at the Rusty Nail, this time with the ever-popular Ten Dollar Thrill. And they are thrilling. (Tickets $5).

One of the Tuesday night jams at the Rusty Nail.

The all-day Sunday Blues Jam is at Legion Stadium and it’s always a blast. Here’s a chance to play on the Festival main stage with some of the best players the area has to offer. You know the drill: no coolers, no pets. Just bring your lawn chairs and get ready to groove.

Before I forget, this year’s Festival blues workshop (Finkelstein Music, 6 S. Front St.),  Saturday, 11 a.m., will be Theresa Blue performing her unique blend of blues, folks and Americana. Otherwise known as Theresa Lindstrom, she’s the throaty voice of divorced blue collar moms everywhere. Careful, she’ll grab your heart when you’re not looking. Call 910-762-5662. (Free event).

The Festival ends at 6 p.m. with the Finkelstein Music Guitar Giveaway. This year, it’s a Squier (by Fender) Vintage Modified Telecaster Thinline guitar. Raffle tickets, which are available at Finkelstein’s, cost  just $1 each or six for $5; Ticket info at www.capefearblues.org.

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