RAISIN' THE BARN FOR SHORTY
April 4, 2004
"Let me love you, baby, you're
driving my poor heart crazy.
Baby, when you walk, you shake just
like a willow tree.
I wandered into the Tradewinds late. The Daniel Castro Band was setting up, which surprised me; I'd expected them to be on later in the evening. Joining Daniel Castro on guitar, were Shoeless Mike Emerson on organ, and Don Bassey on bass, with Randy Hayes (Coco Montoya Band, etc.) on drums. Daniel had his beautiful new red Telecaster thinline with the bridge double blade pickup, and he also had his reliable classic black regular telecaster out ("trigger").
Playing a fast short placed set they really tore into songs like ?Got My Mojo Working.? Driving dance tunes were the order of the night. They filled the floor. The closer was the great slow tune ?I?ll Play The Blues For You.? Dripping with emotion, Daniel?s crying licks were powerful and heartfelt. This was almost the best version of this tune I?ve heard Daniel do. It was huge.
In the madhouse of a benefit set change I helped Daniel navigate his amps out to the van. It seemed the least I could do after that set.
The Pulsators came on and did one of their fine danceable sets. Mick Whittington?s great bass playing combined with the horn section is so fine. I j enjoyed a combination that?s not seen too much these days?rhythm and horns.
Rick Clifford ?s sax keeps moving. Steve Long continues to grow as a trumpet player. The band showed a great vocal chorus in this set; they?ve been working on it you can tell. Steve Long is emerging as a fine vocalist as well as a leading trumpet player. Thanks guys.
When Levi Lloyd walked into the ?Winds around 7:30 I saw none of his usual sidemen with him. I wondered who the band was going to be. Levi began talking to the musicians. Mercy! It was Levi on guitar, Daniel Castro on guitar, Mike Emerson on organ, Carl Bowers on bass, and Randy Hayes on drums! Rick Clifford and Steve Long joined them on horns.
Powering out right from the beginning they showed why Levi has the true feel of a natural blues man. Alternately cooperating and competing with Daniel, Levi ran powerful solos out to the crowd. Daniel would rip one in answer and the fans (me too) would start screaming.
With Levi?s resonant fat woody tone alternating with Daniel?s telecaster drive it had the feeling of B.B. King meets Albert Collins. Meanwhile Mike Emerson would put out organ riffs and figures that perfectly supported the guitarists but were somehow stuff you never heard before. When Mike would solo it was fantastic in intensity. Really a knockout! A highlight was Levi and Daniel doing "Little Red Rooster." It was done far away from the Howling Wolf original and became a guitar tour-de-force with incredible dueling solos. At one point as Levi was soloing Daniel started pulling his shirt and trying to distract him, Levi started laughing but never missed a note. Back to back Daniel and Levi were shoving each other as they soloed. Levi seemed to go far inside himself and pulled out playing that I?m not sure he knew he had in him.
As Levi?s last solo went to the point where the audience was howling as great lick after lick was coming from Levi?s guitar, Daniel motioned to Rick and Steve and the three of them played a chordal crescendo perfectly in keeping with the intensity with which Levi was playing. Levi came out of the zone he was in with the last turnaround and the band did the last ?big? finish laughing and showing off. One of the best sets I?ve seen. I keep wishing the rest of the Bay Area could see Levi like this at his finest. I helped Daniel carry his amps out to the van again.
The good local rock band The Stragglerz came on but it was late on Sunday night and the set with Levi and Daniel had been so big that I had having trouble paying attention and I wandered out front. Levi was out there looking drained. I complimented him on his show. Levi laughed. "I?d like to thank my band for not showing up tonight."
Seeing the look on my face he continued---
"When I walked in here tonight I didn?t know who would be playing with me. The drummer Randy Hayes said he?d stay and Mike Emerson said he?d stay. Then Daniel said he?d stay but his amps were already in the van. So I carried his amps back in.
"Five minutes before the show I still didn?t have a bass player. Then Carl Bowers walked in the back door like it was fate." Levi put his head back and gave a deep laugh.
I told Levi it was just about the best set I?d ever seen him play.
"When the heavy artillery is there you better shoot your best shot! And these guys are the heavies! Man, I had to have the best stuff to keep up with them." Levi laughed with his head back again. Drained.
I apologize to the bands I didn?t see. I went home. It was late Sunday night. I was full.
"I am the little red rooster
Keep everything in the barnyard upset in every way
The dogs begin to bark and hounds
begin to howl
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.