Tradewinds, Cotati

January 16, 2004
By Rolf Olmsted

Beginning a whole blues weekend at Tradewinds, Levi Lloyd & 501 Band  brought their soul blues show to the 'Winds.  Adam Birney on keyboards, Steve Guerrero on drums, Sweet Lou on bass, Dee Wills on vocals, and Levi Lloyd on guitar.  Levi and the band had worked a full day and they were tired getting started.

Doing their show band thing they started right out with "6-3-4-5-7-8-9". Levi's guitar sounded hot through his little tube Music Man amp.  He got that burning tone right at the start.  He started the guitar screaming when Adam sang "Empty Arms."  Levi really got the guitar playing cranked up early and kept it up all night long.

"It's Your Thing (do what you wanna do)" got all the dancers out on the floor.  Slowly the song mutated into "I Feel Good" and then after several verses mutated into "Cold Sweat."  I hadn't seen them do funk numbers this 'hard' before.  They played statement sections with a hard metallic 'robotic' feel and then would get into fluid soloing sections.  It was the most commanding I'd seen them be.  The snap to the 'robot' sections was tough and hard.  Levi's solos snarled as he overdrove his amp.

After this they eased off with some of their crowd pleasing pop tunes like "Handbags And Glad Rags."  They then did "Born On The Bayou,? probably my least favorite song of theirs (it's been done to death, plus I knew Credence very slightly before they were famous).  This rendition did find some new things to do with it.

The second set was long and I spent it dancing to lots of soul favorites like "My Girl."  Dee Wills did a lot of singing this set and he and Levi had some nice harmony a few times.  I wish they would practice that more.  Doing crowd pleasers for a full dancing house they played "Ain't No Midnight Train,? with a full sound.  Steve Long, sitting in on trumpet, got some fine solos in on several songs.  And the hard funk crept in several times "Tear the Roof Off The Sucker" was fun with the crowd chanting, "We want the funk, gotta have that funk!"

The last set was played to a smaller house and was much more bluesy.  Levi's guitar playing was really to the front and some of us had asked for songs.  Z.Z. Hill's "Play Me Some Downhome Blues" hit the spot. Levi reared back and really played some great leads on this song.  I asked Levi to play "Red House" because he hasn't played it in a long time and he really played some off the wall different stuff on it.  He definitely wasn't copying any record.

It was good to see Levi fire out when playing with the 501 Band. Sometimes they are too willing to play motel show tunes.  I recognize that they need to play wedding and motel tunes to make a go of the band, but I could wish for a little higher level of songs and a little greater level of musical challenge.  Levi showed his guitar fire; I want the band to show this more.  Levi shows so much fire in other settings, it would good to see it in his own band.

...Rolf Olmsted

Rolf Olmsted was born on the banks of the Mississippi River and had a dog and played his father's mandolin. He was exposed to the blues at an early age which accounts for it. Among his accomplishments are reproduction, a collection of cheap guitars, and computer semi-literacy. He's guilty of attempted guitar and mandolin playing.