ONE MORE MILE
April 17, 2004
I knew this was likely to be a lightly attended show with a big star show at another venue and two other blues gigs in Sonoma County. Then it turned cold. I didn?t care.
I walked through the cold parking lot into the Tradewinds' back door into an almost empty house. No one was at my table and I set up there and then went up the street and got a large coffee from the little lady at Tamarama. There wasn?t hardly anyone across the street at Sweet Lou?s or Spancky?s. When I got back there was still very few there. Lee Thomson was giving his drums a last tweak; Jersey Jim was fussing with his wireless. Craig Kloor was talking with some friends; he just plugs his maple-necked strat into his amp, straight-no chaser.
I consider shows like this "Command Performances" where I get to have the band to myself. I?ve had "Command Performances" with national acts like Guitar Shorty and Craig Horton, I was good with having one with a band I knew would give a full show no matter how many of us were there. They?ve done it at the 'Winds before?and won over a house.
Starting with a loping shuffle that had that Magic Sam sound, the band members started physically kicking their legs to get warm ad get warm. And then right into Freddie King?s "San-Ho-Zay" which they started driving and getting warm on. Little muffs began to disappear (they hadn?t played together for about two weeks) and the steam began to build.
I was a little apprehensive about the folks that were in the house; some of them seemed drunk and oblivious of the quality of the music. There were others who seemed to be unsure of what kind of place they?d walked into. Behind me I heard the back door pop and Mo walked in, dropped her shawl over the back of a chair while saying "Hi!" and was out on the floor dancing. Within 20 minutes six of Sonoma County?s finest "blues queens" walked in. They all said the same thing, "I wasn?t going to come out tonight, but?" then they all watched the band and got that intent look.
One More Mile went into Guitar Slim?s "I Wanna Be With You" and did their own way with lots of drive. Craig Kloor began to really burn in the lead playing and Lee and Jersey Jim really hit their stride with the full rhythm and harmonic pulse. Jim?s vocals stayed in his strong low vocal rasp and the whole thing began to really pulse with Craig?s ice-pick-in-the-frontal-lobe lead playing. Craig?s body began to wander around the floor and he began to make faces as his brain engaged fully with his playing.
T-Bone Walker?s "Cold, Cold Feeling" was packed with feeling. The drunk couples came on the almost empty dance floor and began a disconnected muscular twirling which naturally led them unerringly into Craig who smoothly danced around them while soloing.
Now the band became the blues at it?s hardest as Craig drove over the rhythm section floating on the pulse while crying and ringing the notes. The blues queens were all out on the floor. Ronnie Jean appeared and she and Mo were out dancing within five feet of Craig for the next three hours. At various times there were five or six blues queens out dancing on the floor. I concentrated on dancing in the second line to avoid obstructing sight lines and having laser beams burn holes through me. As Craig would move sideways in the band area the blues queens would sway in that direction.
Sonny Boy?s "Checking On My Baby" was a real hot jump rocker as more people began to come in the door. The music going out the front door of the ?Winds was drawing them in. Terri turned to me and said, "These guys DESERVE to get a big following in Sonoma County. I haven?t found anybody like this in four years." Craig began to do chicken clucks in his solo on "Checking" and making us laugh. An impish grin and little steps while he did his soloing. His faces became devilish and boyish and commanding by turns as he played.
In the second set I danced a lot and didn?t always note the song titles. I remember "Born In Chicago," Freddie King?s "Big Leg Woman (in a short, short mini-skirt).?
Most of all I remember Magic Sam?s "I found A New Love."
"Well I found me a new love
Well you made me unhappy
So now, if you hear me baby
And I love my new love
A whole lot more people came in the door and they wanted to dance and One More Mile turned to "Roadrunner" and "Hip Shake Baby" which had a real roadhouse feel. Little Milton?s "Same Old Blues" and "T-Bone Shuffle" kept up the jump and there was lots of dancing. Their name signature tune "One More Mile" had the folks out on the floor.
Magic Sam?s "Don?t Want It All (just want a little bit)" was a dance freakout for most of us. The Blues Ladies started asking why these songs weren?t on One More Mile?s CD and I steered them to Magic Sam and Westside Soul and Black Magic (on Delmark). Craig sure can play those Magic Sam tunes.
Jersey Jim asked for requests and I asked for Freddie King?s ?Have You Ever Loved A Woman.? Craig and the band ripped this emotional song, crying and sobbing out the lead lines.
"Have you ever loved a woman so much
you tremble in pain?
But you just love that woman so much
it's a shame and a sin.
And then as a dance tune to end the set they did a bluesified version of, so help me, ?Pipeline!? Ronnie Jean said, "I hate surf music! But that wasn?t too bad."
During the break I had the pleasure of introducing KRSH?s Bill Bowker to Jersey Jim and Craig Kloor. Ronnie Jean: "You and Mo turned me onto this band and I?ve been calling Bill all week to come see this."
Terri said, "I wasn?t going to come out, and then I was only going to stay a set. I?m not leaving." The blues ladies were talking with one another while looking behind them to make sure no guy was listening. They had those Mona Lisa smiles looking at tall dark Craig while he sat shyly in a chair against the wall. I don?t know if one of the reasons Craig started playing in high school was to get girls, but it looks like it might work.
The third set began with a minor instrumental blues with chord changes like "Imagination" that was very affecting. Craig seemed to gather steam with every tune and become more and more emotional sounding. A large part of the time he was playing with his eyes closed, floating on the harmonic pulse Jersey Jim and Lee Thompson throbbed out. The ladies were out swaying in front of the band.
"I Wonder Why (baby, you?re so mean to me)" was followed by a great rendition of Bobby Blue Bland?s "Straight From The Shoulder" from that Members Only CD knocked my socks off. One More Mile has really diverse sources for their tunes?and then they do them their way! "Serves You Right To Suffer" was an aching scream done nothing like the John Lee Hooker original. Wow. A sort of surf send-up on "Hideaway" changes was really wild. Things kept getting wilder and more bent at the end.
It was sort of fitting that the last song of the evening was Magic Sam?s "I Don?t Want No Woman Telling Me This and That." It was wonderful. OK, One More Mile come back to Sonoma County, the jungle drums are going! I want to see them on a warm summer night at the Tradewinds. The ladies will be out in force.
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