Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Blues Blowdown at Strand

March 21, 1994|MIKE BOEHM

By the event's name, you'd suppose that the eighth annual Blues Harmonica Blowdown would be a lung-powered cutting contest, with laurels going to whoever was left standing after all the gusts had died down.

But far from presenting the blues as a zero-sum game that tries to winnow the losers from the winners, the show on Saturday at the sold-out Strand suggested that blues music is an open door through which musicians of varying temperaments and styles are welcome to enter. For this evening, at least, player after player and band after band went through that door and found something on the other side that brought out the vitality in them.

The satisfying if overlong program (seven acts playing for more than six hours) featured the loving but playfully rendered traditionalism of the Hollywood Fats Band, reunited after 15 years--sans the late Fats, but with his guitar protege David (Kid) Ramos ably complementing Al Blake's astute vocals and harmonica.

The recently revamped James Harman Band played with reinvigorated sizzle, and the night ended with the virtuosic, highly idiosyncratic jamming of Carey Bell Harrington, who got his schooling in the harmonica on the 1950s Chicago blues scene.

A solid under card of Southern California blues talent included young veteran Robert Lucas, and elderly veteran Blind Joe Hill. Harmonica Fats, another longtime presence on the Los Angeles blues scene, was casual about playing his namesake, but made a strong impression with gritty, biting vocals and his trademark stage antics.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|