Day two of the ninth Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival began in a similar fashion as the first, with a parade from a Mummers string band, this time of the Polish variety. But unlike the previous day, the BluesPowR Blog was there to see this one, which put the normally behind-the-scenes festival founder and organizer Don Hooker front and center as he led the Polish American String Band onto the festival grounds.
The onstage program began with legendary blues guitarist Bobby Parker, who gives quite a show despite his mature looks and vocals, which can still range from a rough growl to a falsetto. In addition to such classics as “When Things Go Wrong,” “Angel of Mercy,” and a funky “I Ain’t Superstitious,” Parker also offered a number of originals, including one of his first recordings, the rocking “Watch Your Step.”
The son of another famous blues guitarist was next to take the stage, with Big Bill Morganfield providing an impressive display of the talent he has both inherited from his father, Muddy Waters, and honed during his own years as a performer, with songs that included “Blow Wind Blow,” “Got My Eyes on You,” and “Sail On” before he closed on an exciting rendition of “Mannish Boy.”
New Orleans’ Anders Osborne made certain that anyone who might have dozed off during the short break was wide awake when he came on with the screaming “On the Road to Charlie Parker.” Osborne’s set may have been a little more metal blues than some cared for, but the guy does play a mean guitar and certainly made for an interesting variation from the day’s earlier acts.
Sticking with the New Orleans theme, the schedule next offered the big band sounds of Bonerama, fresh off its West Coast tour. In addition to a smoking medley of the Treme theme and Bobby Bland’s “Turn on Your Love Light,” the youngsters also welcomed Anders Osborne back to the stage for one of the weekend’s top performances, a closing take on Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”
Recent Blues Music Award winner Joe Louis Walker kept things rockin’ with a nice mix of his own songs – most notably, “Sugar Mama” and the closing, Song of the Year-nominated “I’m Tide” – and several numbers featuring guitarist Murali Coryell (son of jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, if the last name sounds familiar to you), including “Minor Funk,” “In the Room with Jimi,” and “Blues is Taking Its Place.”
The Texas tones of guitarist Jimmie Vaughan and his Tilt-a-Whirl Band were the next to grace the amps, including such gems as “What Makes You So Tough” and “Just a Little Bit” before they were joined for a handful of songs by another Texas legend, vocalist Lou Ann Barton. Barton and the band exited the stage to allow Vaughan a quiet solo on “Six Strings Down,” a song about the calling of “another blues-stringer back home” that the Fabulous Thunderbirds founder wrote in memory of brother Stevie Ray. Rejoined by the band, Vaughan closed with a powerful “Texas Flood” before clearing the stage for Sunday headliner Chuck Berry.
Needing to begin the journey home to western PA, we were only able to catch a portion of Berry’s set (once he worked out a tiff with the videographer over being filmed for the jumbotrons) in the form of “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Carol,” and “My Ding-a-Ling.” While the 84-year-old Berry isn’t quite as smooth and spry as he used to be, it was nice to have an opportunity to see the rock n’ roll legend in the flesh.
Congratulations and thanks again to the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival for putting on this latest in a string of quality events. Here’s hoping for many more years of the blues (and sun) on Annapolis’ sandy shores!