Tradewinds, Cotati

April 10, 2004
By Rolf Olmsted

I walked into the 'Winds to a very small house. Drummer Daniel Burt was warming up with his sticks on the seat of a barstool. He nodded at me, "Gotta get warm."  If I played for MOFO Party Band I?d have to do stretching exercises.

A bit nervous about the crowd size, I got a Sierra Nevada from Kelly at the bar, and parked myself at my favorite back table.  It was too easy to get the table; there was no one at it. April?s been the kiss of death on ticket sales no matter how good the show.

Behind me the back door steadily opened and people came in. Blues regulars, dance regulars, by ones and twos.  Wandering outside I saw the parking lot was filling. John Clifton was trying to change his clothes behind the door of the MOFO Party Van, while being talked to by an appreciative fan.  Bill Clifton coming out for more equipment opened the back door while chuckling over his brother?s predicament.

The opening tune was "I Love You With All My Heart and Soul."  Mo magically appeared and said can I leave my coat here."  I never saw her sit down from then on.  The blues regulars immediately began streaming in and I stopped worrying about crowd size.  Within minutes regulars had slipped into all the chairs around me.  As the MOFOs moved into their second tune, the Wolf?s "Evil" the place was filling up.

?It's a long way from home,
Can't sleep at night.
Call on your telephone;
Something just ain't right.
That's evil, evil is going on wrong.
I want to warn you brother,
You better watch your happy home.
You make it to your house,
Knock on the front door,
Run 'round to the back;
You'll catch him just before he goes.
That's evil, evil is going on.
I have warned you brother,
You better watch your happy home.

If you call on the telephone
And she answers long and slow,
Grab the first thing smoking
And you got to haul it on home.
That's evil, evil is going on wrong.
I have warned you brother,
You better watch your happy home.?

(C. Burnette)

The Clifton brothers are something special; two gifted musicians psychic with each other. They seem to know what the other is going to do without looking. John Clifton is a great harp player with a full command of his instrument.  His vocals, delivered in a sly tenor, have his own original quality.  Dressed in a sharp iridescent blue sharkskin suit, he was grinning at the crowd and popping his shoulders.

Bill Clifton is an amazing guitar player, adept at both rhythm and lead playing.  Often he?s doing both simultaneously in the finest "West Side" tradition.  Always driving the band he really gets everything going and is always exciting. I love his guitar licks.

The MOFOs have a new bass player (Jon Crozzen having retired to family life) who plays the standup amplified bass.  "Young Jake" was how he was identified.  A thin sharp looking guy with wavy hair, he?s a showman who jitterbugs with a bass about as big as he is and plays a fine bass line.

Daniel Burt was his steady driving self on drums, watching the Clifton Brothers intently as they constantly change dynamics.  Driving this band takes energy.

The MOFO Party Band has one foot in classic Chicago blues and one foot in California blues.  They can play hard deep stuff and then swing like crazy.  They?ve got a real California blues feel.  Adding in the swamp and rockabilly feels they have some scope to their songs.

Halfway through the first set the joint was starting to be jammed.  Single women started coming through the door and I knew the guys would too.  Actually we could have used more guys there.  The dance floor began to have that throbbing jumping up and down look as the dancers began to move as a group.

At one point Bill Clifton went into the crowd playing his guitar for individual dancers.  He came upon Mo, dancing with her eyes closed in a trance, and soloed following her movements.  Part way through she opened her eyes and jumped about three feet in the air.  Bill then took it up on the bar and played a fine solo that I got to see from about a foot away.  Nice.

Little Voodoo Doll (Clifton)

"Little Voodoo Doll,
Your charms are working on me,
Your charms are working on me,
I come around here every time you call,
You know your charms are working on me.

Little Voodoo Doll,
What a mess I'm in,
What a mess I'm in,
You got me babe where you want me baby,
I might never come back again.

Oh Baby it scares me,
The way you shake your thing,
Round and round, up and down,
It's too much for my brain.

Oh little Voodoo Doll,
Look what you done,
When you do your little voodoo,
I know you're the only one.

My little Voodoo Doll,
I come a-running every time you call,
'Cause I love you most of all.
My Little Voodoo Doll"

The second set was packed.  The dance floor was shoulder to shoulder.  People were going wild.  It just never let up.

"Love is my business and I?m your businessman" really had them going.  People really got down literally on ?You?re a Dog.?  What a howl.

I?m not gonna go through their songs again.  Man, are they good and man, was this one hot night!  A wonderful crowd of people who know the blues and love to dance in front of a band there to bring the blues and to make them dance.  Thanks to all the regulars who came out for this event, it made the show.  Thanks to the MOFO Party Band for driving all the way from Fresno.  You really brought the blues.

...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.