MICHAEL BARCLAY BLUES BAND
January 17, 2004
It was a sparse crowd at 9:30 on a cold January Saturday night but people kept coming in the door at Tradewinds. As usual it was an older crowd willing to pay the $5.00 cover charge. Michael Barclay was fussing with his amp. Kent Fossgreen was checking his settings. Rick Cutler at the drums was warming his hands. Banana was standing at his organ waiting. Joel Rudinow was quietly caressing out a few chords on his piano, while Roger Volz was holding his alto sax ready to go.
A middle-aged couple I'd never seen before at the next table, seeing the people still streaming in the back door, said, "We take it that this isn't the twenty-something mingle-and-meat-market?"
"That's across the street."
They laughed. "We're in Sonoma County for a meeting. We wanted to hear some good blues."
"You've come to the right place. Barclay is one of the good ones." They spent a lot of time dancing and regretfully left at the last break.
Satisfied with his adjustments, Michael turned around, smiled at the band, called out the first tune and they broke into "Dark Night." This instrumental tune used to be a long highlight of their middle set, now it's the opener. A great instrumental number, it sure is a way to start out on a high note.
"Soul Patch" was done very funky with a pile of rhythm. The dancers were out on the floor big time and suddenly the place was packed. Michael was looking more relaxed than I've seen him in a while and the mood seemed to infect the band and they were looser than their last few gigs. Moving right into "Red Haired Woman" Michael broke out the wah-wah pedal and the effects right away and proceeded to get the place yelling. Very hot.
Roger Volz sang his new song "Maintenance Man."
"You sit at the bar and hold you arm
You're a high maintenance woman,
One of the things like about the Barclay band is they do classics their own way. On "Dust My Broom" Michael barely quotes the classic opening lick and then they're away doing their own thing. Their rendition owes more to Robert Johnson's original that to Elmore James' famous electric version.
"I?m going to get up in the mornin?,
I believe I?ll dust my broom
I?m gonna write a letter, telephone
every town I know
I don?t want no woman, wants every
downtown man she meets
I believe, I believe I?ll go back
And I?m getting up in the mornin?, I
believe I?ll dust my broom
I?m gonna call up Chiney, see is my
good girl over there
The dance floor was packed and the band was sounding great. I went out and danced despite the press of people. The band was really firing out and looked like they were having fun. I sort of lost the thread of noting what tunes were being played, I was in the dance zone. Somewhere in here Michael turned on his chorus effect pedal and really started making some shimmering sounds and really surged in his lead solos.
At the first break there was lots of talking and socializing with the comfortable full house. Lots of regulars and friends. My soul sis started me into snickering with her observations on life.
The second set started with a hot opener I didn't recognized. The band is adding new stuff. I got into dancing again and not making notes but I remember "I Refuse" with a honking sax solo by Roger. "Stagolee" done sort of New Orleans style with a lot of "Nawlins" R&B feel. A classic shuffle of the "C. C. Rider" type (only with different words) was as hot as a pistol. "The Sky Is Crying" was done real slow and hard, almost mean in feel. Howlin' Wolf's "Louise" was another tough sounding slow hard one.
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.