Bull Durham Blues Festival

We had a great time playing the Bull Durham Blues Festival in Durham, NC, last Saturday.

After our mid-afternoon show, we didn’t have anything else to do except go home on Sunday. So instead of packing up and hitting the road right away, we were able to enjoy the festival, hang with some friends and make a few new ones. Here’s some of what we saw and heard:

The crowd loved the Homemade Jamz Blues Band, a group of young siblings from Tupelo, MS. Their drummer, Taya Perry, was only ten years old. Darren liked her playing so much he had his picture taken with her and set it as the background on his cellphone.

After them came the Lee Boys, a Sacred Steel group we’ve worked with before. I watched from behind the stage as they whipped up the crowd with praise music. After the set I asked Roosevelt Collier, the steel guitarist, if he knew Dante Harmon, who plays steel guitar in a church near my home in Georgia. “Dante Harmon?” Roosevelt said. “He’s standing right behind you.” From where I’d been standing behind the stage I’d seen only the back of the drummer’s head, and I hadn’t recognized Dante sitting there. All the Sacred Steel musicians start on drums. So everybody had a good laugh on me. Dante and I promised to get together in the next week or so and record a little steel guitar jam.

The surprise treat of the day was Trombone Shorty, a young horn band from New Orleans. The oldest guy in the group was 26. Their band put on a powerful show. When the drummer first sat down we heard this “Boom! Pock!” I said to Mark, “Are those the same drums people have been playing all day? They haven’t sounded like that before.” “Yeah,” said Mark, “I think they are.” Then Darren came rushing over saying, “That’s the same kit! It’s the same kit!”

Some guys just have their own way of hitting a drum. I’ve heard of people checking out John Bonham’s kit and saying, “They’re nothing special, just drums.” When Bernard Purdie sits down to someone else’s set, you know from the first whack that somebody’s come to town. Then when another drummer tries to follow that with a lot of fancy licks, you realize it’s not about the licks. Louis Armstrong said, “Some guys have to play a hundred notes because they don’t know how to play the one right note.” A lot of that one right note is the tone and the spirit behind it, and my one right note might not be the same as yours. That’s a big part of what makes watching other bands so much fun.

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