Ivy Room, Albany

April 16, 2004
By Maureen Hayes, Da Blues Traveler

Loaded up the van with some of my favorite blues buddies and we went to witness the Return of Zinn at The Ivy Room.  It had been awhile since the last sighting.  Something was feeling real strange about this gig and I couldn't place my finger on it.  It had been bothering me days before.  I thought that maybe because it was quiet around the Zinn camp but that wasn't it.

I called at 8 p.m. to be sure he would be there and they said, "Yes, it's the return of Zinn tonight" so that wasn't it.  I thought maybe his life might be in disarray and his show would be BS and maybe he didn't want to play, but that wasn't it.  He was indeed ready to play.

Still not knowing, I settled in for a great night of blues from ours truly, Rusty Zinn.

Finally starting off, it was Paul Revelli on drums. Ronnie James on bass.  This cat by the name of Robert Sidwell on guitar.  Never seen him before.  He was great!!  Loved his soft, intricate rhythm riffs in the background and he would rip a mean solo every so often as well.  He?s from the Hucklebucks outta Sacramento.  I have never seen them and should make it a point to scope them out.  According to their website they have won a couple of Sammies and are often voted the Sac Valley favorite blues band.  Real nice rhythm playin' and I often found myself tuning into his riffs.

Rusty is by far, one of my favorites, Period!  When he's on, he's on. This was not one of those nights.  Not enough of that guitar and when it did happen, it sounded like crap because his amp was screwed up.  Too much frustration, from my point of view, anyway.  It was getting in the way of him really stretching out.  Robert was getting more attention from me and that's uncalled for.  Deserving, but uncalled for.  Rusty is just too damn good.  His amp was so crackly that it was tweakin' my ears!

His voice was on this night.  That PA was nice and clear and them vocals are just a melter.  Make me feel like jello.  Still wanted that guitar work of his that screams out.  Reaches out and pulls you in.  That guitar that gets your attention and makes you pay attention.  I wanted more of that double pickin', souletting stuff.  Then after an announcement about venturing off the blues track for a few, it dawned on me...Does he even want to play the blues anymore?

He's workin' a new record and it ain't the blues, he warned.  Sure enough they weren't at all.  Reggae/ world beat feel and it was sittin' time.  Call me narrow-minded, if you want.  It was good.  Nice beat, nice lyrics and very uplifting!  I didn't want uplifting dammit, I wanted the blues ;-).

That's OK, Rusty.  You can dabble in that stuff for ONE record and then you get your butt back into the blues where you belong.  I'll wait.  You can throw in a song or two in your shows but please be careful.  That's just my opinion so don't get mad.  A couple of people in our group REALLY liked it so don't listen to me.  Music is very personal and you do what you've gotta do but please don't stray too far for too long :-(

At any rate...it was real good to see Rusty shaved head and all.  All that beautiful red hair all gone 'cept for some on the chin.  He actually looks pretty darn good bald.  It was suppose to be one of those magical guitar nights and I could tell he WAS ready to play.  He looked to be in good form too bad the amp wasn't.

OK..OK!.....I'll let it go now.

Ronnie James, Ronnie James.  I knew I saw him somewhere but couldn't place where or with whom.  After asking I found out it was with Fabulous T-Birds and Lil' Charlie.  Bad ass bass but did you know he could play a killer lead guitar?!!  Aaah man, that was great!!  I'm sorry but that was one of the best solos of the night.  What a treat and a great way to end the night.

The crowd was VERY subdued and it wasn't hardly a dancin' crowd on this night.  Then it got real crazy.  The folks started hitting the floor and the howlers started howlin'.  I was literally picked up a couple of times and received a rather enjoyable wedgy in the process ;-)

Very strange dancers out there and one gal made sure the guys on stage had a view during a whole entire song, if not the whole entire show.  Front and back view!  Man...watching the crowd from the stage must be amusing at times.  I wonder what that's like?  Wish more musicians would share those sorts of things with us.

Earlier in the evening, this gal was chastised for screamin' like a cat (it was annoying) and everyone laughed loud and hard at her expense.  Sorry, I don't find that stuff amusing.  Her head hung low and you could see her crouchin' in the corner.  Right after her being chastised, Rusty went right into, "Tell me pretty baby, why you so doggone mean?" (Treat You Like A Queen).  I kind of felt bad for the wild and crazy enthusiastic girl.  But, I?m happy to say that it didn't break her spirit for long.  She came back and with a vengeance.  You go girl!!

Great crowd it turned out to be.  They were loud and even demanded an encore.

The ride home was enjoyable.  After a stop at Happy Donuts down from the Ivy Room for coffee, and donuts of course, we settled in for the trek home.  T-Bone Walker was in the player and I MUST have that CD!! He's so good!  This CD Rolf shared with us is a essential for every blues collection.  Why don't I have that CD yet?  I need to dig a little deeper in the blues.  Just so much out there.  I do have a record of his but this one last night was great!!!

Thanks Rusty for a rather interesting night.  Not the norm, or the guitar I expected, but interesting to say the least.  Thanks Ivy Room for having the blues every so often.  (And now every Tuesday with Freund and guests.)  Thank you blues buddies!!  I just love my blues life.  Friends and live blues, who needs more?

Still needing some blues guitar, I'm looking forward to Saturday night with One More Mile!  Craig Kloor will fill my needs, this I know.  It won't be that Zinn style I so desired but it'll work just fine.

...da Blues Traveler