By SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // Under clear skys and warm temps, Day 2 was about as good as it gets
Day two of the 2016 Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival is in the books. Under clear blue skys, the annual blues festival at Tom McCall Park featured some terrific sounds.
Since I usually come in through the Salmon Street entrance, my first stop is always the Front Porch Stage to check out some Zydeco sounds. Saturday featured a great trifecta as Chubby Carrier, the Too Loose Cajun Band, and Curley Taylor were the first three acts of the day.
Local favs Too Loose were great, as always. Steve Kerin, a Louisiana native, has a solid band around him and their sounds are as authentic as any to be found this far away from the land of gumbo and crawfish.
Carrier and Taylor are regulars for the fest and are always a treat. Both were in fine form, squeezing their accordions with each adding in their great vocals.
Speaking of accordions, I love accordion jokes. Hanging out backstage after his set, Taylor asked me if I had gotten any good pics. I told him that I had, but I'd have to photoshop out the accordion. He just rolled his eyes.
If you haven't heard Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram before, go look him up and check out his tremendous blues guitar talents. Only 17, he qualifies as a prodigy by any definition of the word.
Ingram has been referred to as the next B.B. King, he is simply that good. Indeed, on Saturday he was at his best when playing in the style of King. He even has similar facial expressions as he internally sinks into his groove on solos.
I got a chance to chat with him after he caught Maceo Parker's set and he tells me that a new album drops in September. Look for a review in a couple months.
The joy of discovery is one of the biggest benefits of a major festival and the day introduced me to the rockin' sounds of the 24th Street Wailers. Hailing from Canada, the five-piece group throws down some serious blues infused with 40's and 50's jump blues.
Local cat Rich Layton has been singing the praises of the Wailers to me for some time now and I'm certainly glad he did. Fronted by drummer and lead vocalist Lindsay Beaver, the group played a fantastic set featuring some serious upright bass, sax, keys, and electric guitar. Look for some great music in the years ahead from this group.
My personal highlight of the day was Maceo Parker. His set was by far the funkiest of the day, not surprising given his years of playing with James Brown and George Clinton. Parker was in fine form and clearly enjoying himself.
Brown was famous for the tightness he demanded from his musicians. Parker expects just as much from his supporting cast and they delivered in every way possible, with nary a missed beat or note amongst them.
Parker's sax playing is rock solid. Parker seamlessly integrates rhythm, syncopation, and melody to carry his band across decades of R&B and funk all the while keeping it fresh. Last night's set also included some terrific nods to Ray Charles, one of Parker's biggest influences.
Brother of Stevie Ray and a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmy Vaughn closed out the Brewery Stage last night in perfect form.
When asked about Jimmie Vaughn, Eric Clapton once said that his biggest take away from Vaughn's style was to keep it simple. Vaughn is the master of clean, neat, and minimal. Some guitarists will put more notes into a single measure than Vaughn will an entire solo and never come close to matching what Vaughn will achieve with the same notes.
After warming up with two instrumental numbers, Vaughn launched into his main set with style and ease, effortlessly coaxing notes out of his custom signature guitars. Keeping with his minimalist approach, Vaughn runs almost every song straight to his dual amp setup, forgoing the use of effect pedals. He even makes his own picks, cutting them from plastic hotel room keys.
Vaughn was joined by Lou Ann Barton and together they provided the perfect close to the day, her sweet sounds wafting over an extremely appreciative crowd. A perfect end to a great day.