5/21/2001 JAMES HARMAN BAND/BLUES ANGELS

JAMES HARMAN BAND.  James Harman is a “dynamo of jump-jive lingo, perpetrator of more than 250 live-wire club shows a year, and one of the keepers of the real-deal blues vibe” (Blues Access).  His special demeanor has earned him the name “Icepick James”.  When he is “on”, there isn’t anybody better, smoother, or cooler in the blues.  His performances have a kinetic vitality – the energy leaps like lightening from the microphones to your feet.

Singer, songwriter, and harmonica player extraordinaire, James Harman has been a key performer on the Southern California Blues scene since the 1970s.  He was born in Alabama, grew up in Florida, and matured as a musician in Chicago.  His recording career began in the early 1980s and he has released a dozen CDs since, garnering multiple W. C. Handy Award nominations along the way.  His music combines soulful vocals, skillful harmonica, and lyrics with a sense of humor.

According to Santelli’s “Big Book of Blues”, humor is what sets Harman apart from other Blues performers.  This sense of play is embodied in his CD  “Takin’ Chances” (Cannonball Records), which was nominated for a W. C. Handy Award. This fun-filled theme album is about the gambles we take in life, love, relationships, and money, as well as the sometime futile pursuit of them all.  His most recent CD, “Mo’ Na’kins, Please” (Cannonball), is a compilation of studio recordings from the mid-’80s with Hollywood Fats, Junior Watson, and Kid Ramos.

The James Harman Band is on the road most of the year, traveling throughout the states and Europe.  The band includes Nathan James on guitar, Alan West on drums, and Lucky Medina on bass.  Together, they play a combination of blues, boogie, and a touch of 50’s rock n’ roll that will keep the Vets Hall jumping.

BLUES ANGELS. The Blues Angels have been performing together for five years.  They have performed for the SLO Blues Society, Mothers Tavern, First Night, the Midstate Fair, and other venues on the Central Coast.  The “angels” are noted for their great dance music and energetic instrumentation.  The Blues Angels credit B.B. King, Robert Cray, Paul Butterfield, Junior Watson, Tommy Castro, and Gladys Knight as influences and describe their style of music as “modern day, West Coast, electronic groove blues – the way you like it.”  The Blues Angels are composed of five experienced local musicians.  The silk and gravel voice of Brett Hoover provides the lead vocals for the band.  He is backed by Danny Oneill on his massive Hammond organ.  Larry Brebes plays lead guitar and provides backup on vocals.  The rhythm section includes Tom Leatherwood on bass and vocals, and Josh Carson on percussion.

December 9, 2000 Smokin Joe Kubek with B’nois King / Oasis

Smokin’ Joe Kubek Band with Bnois King

Smokin’ Joe Kubek seems to have been born to play the guitar, and has been demonstrating this ability for almost 30 years.  A guitar prodigy at the age of 14, the Texas teenager frequented the Dallas Bar scene in the 70’s and early 80’s, playing with Stevie Ray Vaughan and the three Kings (B.B., Albert, and Freddie).  However, Kubek didn’t really hit his stride until 1987 when he teamed up with jazz guitarist and singer B’nois King from Louisiana.  Together, they create one of the most unique collaborations in contemporary Blues.

Smokin’ Joe and Bnois King are a study in opposites.  Kubek slashes away on his blue stratocaster.  He explodes on stage with a blazing blues/rock style born from the guitar traditions of Texas.  King finesses fat chords with a hollow body Gibson and belts out blues with his whisper-to-growl voice.  His background is rooted in the jazz sounds of Louisiana.  Together, they form a musically intuitive partnership.  Kubek’s impeccable guitar solos follow King’s sublime vocals perfectly.  The jazz-infected blues guitar runs of King are sharp and inventive, and are a great counterpoint to Kubek’s slashing, stinging power and drive.  King’s impassioned vocals are one of the most distinctive sounds in the blues.  His vocals can bring tears to your eyes, sinking into lonely soulful blues or reveling in the joy of being alive, as he completely captures the heart of a song.

This duo has produced seven CDs since 1991, most for Rounder Records.  Their latest release is “Bite Me”.  What is most striking about his new album is Kubek’s slide playing, which can be raw and urgent like hardcore Elmore James or full of fire like the best of the rock blues guitarists.  Despite the brilliance of Kubek’s guitar work, it does not overshadow the contributions of Bnois King.  King’s dry, T-Bone tinged vocals are fresh and distinctive, and his jazzy guitar is the perfect foil to Kubek’s incendiary style.  As a songwriting team, they are creative and confident.  “Their music is stripped and serious, hell-bent and beautiful.  And it’s all sent from Texas with love” (Blues Access).

Oasis

The opening band Oasis has been on the SLO music scene since 1985.  This five person band is highly versatile, playing everything from Big Band to Big Chill.  For our blues show, they will be playing rhythm and blues with a twist of Motown.  The band includes Frank Gary on saxophone, Ed Harris on bass, Willie Klearman on guitar and vocals, Dan Murry on keyboard and vocals, and Joe Rodriguez on drums and vocals.  Their collective talent and enthusiasm for music makes Oasis one of the most popular bands on the Central Coast.

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