June 8, 2002
|Since I was unable to talk any of my usual cohorts into the road trip, I
decided to solo it from Dallas out to Longview for AlleyFest. The drive was just over two
hours. I found downtown Longview, parked, and walked towards the music. When I got to a
stage, I realized that I'd somehow bypassed the entrance gates and admission charge. Oh
well, that's five bucks towards gas money.
Anders Osborne and WC Clark were both playing the 7:30-10:00 slot, and I spent my time back and forth between the two stages. For those of you not familiar with Anders, his style is very eclectic, bluesy at times, but with lots of jazz, soul, R&B, and a bit of funk mixed in. His band consists on guitar (Anders), plus drums, sax, and sousaphone, if that gives you any idea. I'm a fan, but it's definitely not for you "blues purists".
My first time seeing WC Clark. He put on a good, crowd-pleasing show, for example, following up a song "for the kids" (Breakfast Blues) with some "Stevie Ray for the grownups" (Cold Shot). The show did drag at times, but wghen it did, I just bounced back to the other stage.
But what to say about Koko Taylor, besides Wow? I'd seen her once before, about 3 years ago, when she played what may be DFW's worst blues venue, a show at McFarlin Auditorium put on by TITAS. That day, I was in the back, amidst 2,500 Park City blue-hairs who looked at you odd when stood and danced, and whooped and cheered, when you ought to be sitting down and applauding politely, thank you very much. Poor Koko coundn't seem to figure why no one seemed to be enjoying themselves.
At AlleyFest, the crowd of perhaps 800 was much more enthused. They did sit much of the time, but you could tell that they were suffering from that uniquely Texas music dilemma - even those wanting to stand and dance are afraid to be impolite by blocking other's view. When Koko took the tempo up, though, folks came to their feet, and for the encore, there was even a mini rush to the stage.
Koko's band, the Blues Machine, did a couple of numbers before she came out, and couple after she was done. This was smart, since they were talented and tight, but once Koko was on stage, it was hard to notice anyone else. For a woman in her 60's, her voice still has amazing power. For most of the set, I was about third row center, and from this close, you could see the emotion that she brings to her singing. Although it may have just been perspiration, I could swear she seemed to be crying as she sang "I'd Rather Go Blind".
The set list included classics like Wang Dang Doodle and Sweet Home Chicago, plus some interesting covers of Big Mama Thornton (Hound Dog) and Melissa Ethridge (Bring Me Some Water).
|The Queen of the Blues
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Photos copyright © 2002 by Swag