The Orange County Blues Society hosted the monthly “Orange County Blues Society Open Jam” on July 27 at the Main St Restaurant in Yorba Linda, California from approximately 2:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Created by Orange County-based bluesman harpist/vocalist Jeff “Papa J” Hudson, it was founded in order to give blues music and Orange County-based blues acts their presence.
Thanks to California freeway traffic and another SNAFU, your crusty chronicler and his sexy sidekick Mary Sparks arrived fashionably late. By the time they found seats, Papa J and a group of musicians were already turning out their tuneful take on T-Bone Martin’s “Stormy Monday”. Regular readers know that your rather reclusive writer and his femme fatale “photog” actually always enjoy these jumping jams so don’t expect an in-depth analysis or even a perfect playlist. It’s all about the overall experience and not a detailed documentation. Just be happy to hear highlights, mmmkay?
Memorable moments included timely tributes to the recently late songwriter J. J. Cale in the form of a blues-tinged “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” covers which were both written by Cale and made famous by Eric Clapton. “I don’t know nothin’ about that” Papa J ad-libbed in the middle of the lyrics of the latter. (Either way it’s cool, Papa J. That’s rock ‘n’ roll.)
Papa J and pals also performed one of your rascally writer’s favorites “Laundromat”. (Again, there’s a reason why yours truly doesn’t own a washer and a dryer.) Singer-guitarist Pete DeMarzo of Soul to Soul joined in the jam and put out a healthy helping of “Hug You Squeeze You”. Sandro Eristavi did “A Letter To a Business Woman” off his recent release Blue Sharp Minor.
Other highlights included Papa J and the boys in blues belting out yet another tribute to Cale and other recently deceased rockers in the form of their version of the minor-keys blues bit “The Thrill Is Gone” made famous by B.B. King. Romeo Maxx included a reggae-riffed version of Bill Withers’ 1971 hit “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”. Naturally, Papa J and company cranked out a cover of the classic “Route 66” first recorded by Nat King Cole and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”. Finally, every artist remaining joined in on a rockin’ closing cover of Jimi Hendrix’s hit “Hey Joe”.
The event’s participating performers also included: drummer Ray Moreno, multi-instrumentalist and singer René Mente, guitarist/bassist Mike Dotson, harpist Mr. Blues, drummer Tony Tee, guitarist Arnold Cruz, drummer Mike, guitarist Steven 7 and last but certainly not least fantastic fourteen year-old drummer Matthew Fyke who perhaps put in the most surprising performance overall. (The inclusion of such a young performer is one reason why Papa J’s pet cause Blues In The Schools is so significant.) After all, as “Papa J” Hudson has often said: “The blues is America’s only original art form” so it’s important that the genre be shared with future generations.
As per usual, mention must also be made of the service provided to those attending the event. Thanks to our willing waitresses Lissa, Melinda and the remaining Main Street staff at the venue. Papa J reminded one and all that “blues is a condition and blues music is the cure” adding “I hope you guys are feeling much better when you leave here”.
One of these days your rockin’ writer just might show up sans pen and notebook so he can applaud with both hands and properly praise all the people involved in this esteemed effort. Once again, this musical mélange of live, raw jamming is what makes the Orange County Blues Society’s open jams just plain . . . well . . . jam!
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.