Weekend full of Blues and Funk
By: SARAH ERMAN, A&E EditorAfter all the preparation, the Patrons of the Arts Blues and Funk Festival went off without a hitch. The event was a two night series, beginning on Friday, Feb. 3, and continuing the next night, Saturday, Feb. 4.
Jonathan Secor, who is currently teaching a Topics of Arts Management course, was the Special Program Coordinator in charge of this high energy event. Secor began the night with a brief introduction where he promised that they were, "going to deliver."
Friday night was opened by the colleges very own Jazz band. The band consisted of 14 members and was under the direction of Wes Flinn of the Fine and Performing Arts Department. They began their set with Jim Beard'sb "Ode to the Do-Dah Day." The rest of their set list included "Monks Dream" by Thelonious Monk, "Beware the Eyes of March," by Wes Flinn, concluding with "Soulful Mr.Timmons," composed by the legendary James Williams.
The jazz band featured many solos, which are very common to jazz. Some of the soloists included David Winn on baritone saxophone, Adam Jolicoeur on tenor saxophone, Alexandria Schultz on flute, and Dan Bisson on guitar. It was a strong performance by the group and was a solid opening to an evening that was filled with energy.
With the momentum already rolling, Secor introduced the next act, "Misty Blues." The lead singer of the band, Gina Coleman, is an alum of the College, having received her Masters in Education. Coleman said that Secor had called her and told her how he had a blues festival coming up and wanted her band to play; having previously booked them a while back at MoCA. "Misty Blues" has been together since 2000, but most of her band mates have been playing together since her last band "Cole-connection," which started in the mid to early 90's.
The five piece band was joined by Charles Neville on tenor saxophone. Though Neville is probably most recognized for his part in the "Neville Brothers," he has been a part of the musical world for almost 57 years. His master improvisational skills and his ability to play just about anything helped to fill out the sound of the "Misty Blues" set.
They began their set with "29 Ways," composed by Willie Dixon, and originally performed by Dixon and KoKo Taylor. Their entire set consisted of nine songs, other songs included- "They Call Me Big Mama," by Big Mama Thorton, "Got my mojo working," a song that has been performed by Elvis Presley and "The Greatful Dead," and concluded their set with "You're gonna need somebody." The "Misty Blues" were a great group of performers. About Gina and her band, Neville stated, "It's always nice to find a funky blues band in Massachusetts."
The next band of the night was straight out of New Orleans. "Papa Grows Funk," led by John "Papa" Gros, was a change for the audience. They brought the audience through nine different songs, mainly of instrumental pieces with big guitar solos, and saxophone breaks. "Papa Grows Funk" also took the opportunity to play with Charles Neville who is also from New Orleans.
Gros told the crowd, "If you feel the need to get up and shake something, its ok with us." Many students in the audience accepted their invitation and got up to dance in front of the stage. The dancing didn't really take off till they played their rendition of "Come Together," originally done by The Beatles. The nonstop set list also featured some Mardi Gras music like "It's Carnival Time," and their first song off their first album, "Passing."
The second night began much like the first, with the jazz band playing another four pieces, concluding their series of events with "I Feel Good," by James Brown. This song included vocals by Alexandria Schultz.
The next band was of a unique makeup. "The Connor Meehan Blues Band," was a collection of local musicians including Connor Meehan, Steve Ide, Rob Putnam, and Ed Moran. They had never played together before; Meehan said he has played with them all individually on separate occasions. So, instead of a well rehearsed and solid set list, the audience had the privilege of watching a jam session take place. The band played six songs which included Hall & Oats "What's Going On," and James Brown's, "Papa's got a brand new bag." For a group of musicians who had never played together before, they were able to successfully pull off an incredible sound.
The last band of the two nights was the "Michael Hill's Blues Mob." This three piece band concluded the festival on a high note, performing a total of 13 songs. The band consists of Michael Hill on vocals and guitar, Bill McClellan on drums and back up vocals, and Michael Griot on bass and back up vocals.
They performed primarily original songs that have been on their albums, though favored the crowd with some Hendrix and Muddy Waters. Unfortunately, the crowd possessed less enthusiasm towards dancing the night away, but that didn't stop Hill from playing "Let the Ladies have the floor," a song about how they enjoy it when the ladies dance up in front of the stage. Some of the song took on political views such as the songs "Bye George," and "Black Gold." Hill kept explaining how the blues has a message, and the "Michael Hill's Blues Mob" definitely delivered a message to the audience.
The two nights gave audience members an entertaining experience that provided the community with an opportunity to witness legendary talent on the Church Street Center stage. Next year may bring a new batch of artists, but till then, we are left with the memories of rhythm and blues.
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