MICHAEL BARCLAY BLUES BAND
January 15, 2005
I arrived slightly early for the monthly Michael Barclay show at the Tradewinds. One of the things I?d missed in the concrete block warren of Honolulu was melodicism and some harmony beyond three chords; I was looking forward to the Barclay Band?s larger concept of the blues. Michael was fussing with the equipment, adjusting the house sound, and giving his guitar a long tune-up. The other musicians (Banana on organ, Kent Fossgreen on bass, Roger Volz on Saxes, Joel Rudinow on piano, and Gary Silva sitting in on drums) set up, eyed Michael, and talked among themselves.
Suddenly Michael was ready and turned around and the band went into "Dark Night,? one of their fine instrumentals. The small crowd of regulars turned to the band and mostly watched, enjoying the rich sound. I wish that there was a sound clip of this playing as you read this, words aren?t much good describing a big groove instrumental with a cosmic feel. It was a great start, and filled me with relief: "Oh God, I?m back, I missed this."
Michael?s song "Red Headed Woman" got every body out dancing. Michael was hot early and was driving and emotional. His singing was emotional too as he went into the next song, singing about "your new found friend" in "I Refuse (to get the blues)."
"I refuse, I refuse,
In a hoarse but heartfelt tenor Michael sang:
"I can feel your body
And it makes me so
Old love, leave me
I can see your face
And it makes me so
This song, done with looseness and power, had little muffs in it that would mark the evening.
I?d been into Kent Fossgreen?s amp repair shop (next to Zone Music) and Kent was playing a working dub CD of new songs the band was working on. The new CD is in the works and Michael?s been concentrated on new songs. Since the Barclay Band has been playing fewer gigs lately and working on new material, their regular show songs were a touch rusty. All through the night they would play with fire and a loose attitude, and occasional glitches. The back door kept opening, and more and more people came in.
Now the band moved to
one of the new songs. Michael sang:
Then in a changeup they did "Drown In My Own Tears."
brings a tear,
I guess I'll
Roger Volz did one of the soul tunes he?s noted for since his days in the Dynatones, "I Stepped Over The Line." The grown crowd was into dancing and the band did a long "Gimme a Break" which included bass and drum solos. The now big crowd cheered.
The second set opened with a big instrumental that had folks out dancing. Michael strapped on a slide guitar and went into a brand new tune which Michael introduced as an "oedipal drama"---"Mama?s Cadillac." "Mama I wanna drive your Cadillac."
"Louise" was done rawer than usual and with a really big raw solo. This song was like the whole night: the Barclay band more raw and emotional than usual. This time it was a lot more like Howlin? Wolf and low down.
Roger did his song "High Maintenance Woman" with a new intro which faked me out, I thought he had a new song. Roger played a tenor sax some of the time, but his alto is really him.
Somewhere in here they did ?(Really Have To Use My) Imagination", my favorite tune of theirs, this time it had a different buildup into the tune, every verse changed in feel.
Then Michael dedicated a whole big Hendrix medley to John the Tradewinds manager, wild pyrotechnics and wah-wah pedal and all. "I?m standing next to a mountain, I chop it down with the edge of my hand!" Voodoo Chile segued into "Purple Haze" and then into a huge sounding "Red House." The crowd was screaming.
They closed out the night with ?Banana?s tune? with its skipping feel. People were still out dancing; we didn?t want them to stop.
I?m looking forward to the new CD sometime in the spring or early summer. I?m glad Michael is back to monthly at the ?Winds. It?s interesting watching them change and grow.
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