Monday, July 09, 2007

Little Bit of Blues at Lubber Run

Blues Greats Play Piedmont Style on a "Languid" Night

The humid air and clear skies made last night “languid” according to my friend Matt Baker, which here means “the perfect night to listen to the blues” at the Lubber Run Amphitheatre. Blues greats (they tour with Smithsonian Folkways nationally) Jay Summerour (snare drum and harmonica), Warner Williams (guitar), Rick Franklin (guitar), and Michael Baytop (“bones” and washboard), played about an hour long set including “Hey Bartender, There’s a Big Bug in My Beer,” “Travelin’ Man Blues,” and, believe it or not, “Auld Lang Syne.”

People spread out on lawn chairs, and chairs they attached to the bleachers. They were walking dogs. At least one group had their crackers and cheese near the back of the amphitheatre. The audience clapped to beat, and many gave the group of Piedmont stylists a standing ovation at the end. At the height of the performance, about 200 people sat in the audience.

Michael Baytop claps the "bones," wood blocks connected by a spring.

After the show, 20 or 30 headed to stage to meet the band and buy the CDs.

“I thought the show went tremendous, to tell you the truth. The audience was very nice; it was one of the friendliest audiences that we played before in a long time,” said Rick Franklin, who lives in Arlington’s Douglas Park. “They didn’t throw anything at us.”

“That reached the stage,” others chimed in.

“That reached the stage! They usually have one of those fences around,” Mr. Franklin joked.

Audience member Andrew, 11, who said he is in a rock band, came out to see the show, and he bought a CD.

“I know Rick from awhile ago,” he said.

Jay Summerour said of Mr. Williams, “We’ve been together like 20-something years.” This includes shows at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and all the way from Maine to Washington state.

“Mike and Rick and I play together a lot,” Mr. Summerour said.

Warner Williams finger picks the chords, Piedmont style blues.

Mr. Franklin, who plays guitar, said playing Piedmont blues, where the player finger-picks the chords rather than strums them, is a bit like bluegrass music “slowed way down.”

Mr. Williams and Mr. Summerour, Little Bit of Blues, will celebrate the release of their latest CD along with Mr. Franklin and Mr. Baytop at Strathmore Hall in Maryland on Aug. 1.

The 30-second video is from an “obstructed view” at Lubber Run—I really never even noticed before that our little theatre had obstructed views, but the light tower blocked my view of Michael Baytop.

This weekend at Lubber Run Amphitheatre:

Friday, July 13
7:00 p.m. “Robyn’s Place” WPFW Jazz Simulcast

Saturday July 14
8:00 p.m. A Cappella Festival with “The Tone Rangers

Sunday July 15
8:30 p.m. Film: “Slapsticon Festival Preview” accompanied by Tina Chancey of “Hesperus”.


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