Posted by: joetatesblog | November 14, 2008

Boogie Woogie Piano

NIGHT BEAT on Rhythm Street       Joe Tate

 Saturday

 Tonight we got to hear some old fashioned New Orleans piano from Macy Blackman at Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar at 2009 Bridgeway. Macy presents a combination of styles ranging from Professor Longhair to Ray Charles. In between you can hear Fats Domino, Doctor John, Huey Piano Smith and a little Jerry Lee Lewis. His excellent piano playing is complimented by his soulful vocals. He is accompanied by Bing Nathan on bass.

 Starting off with “Let the Four Winds blow,” you can feel Fats Domino in the air. The vocal is spot on with all the little Fats Domino piano figures sprinkled in. The patrons react to “Tipitina” as if they know what to expect. Macy has his fans here and this song gets them going. This must be Professor Longhair’s defining song, though many more are to come.

 Next is Rays Charles’ “Hallelujah I love Her So” followed by “Rock House” and eventually “One mint Julep.” “Rockin Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu” segues to some swamp blues with “Goin Back To New Orleans. Listening to these guys is like a little trip down south, if you know what I mean.

 Macy grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and got his chops in New York City. He came to the Bay area in 2000 and now lives in Kensington. He has played with Dr. John, the Clovers and has his own group, the Mighty Fines, that features Jack Dorsey on Drums, Nancy Wright on Tenor sax and Snakebite on baritone sax. They can be heard at Ana’s Jazz Island in Berkeley on June 28.

 Macy can be heard also at Servino’s in Tiburon. He will be there July 3. Also coming up is the “Blues Piano Orgy” on May 30, at the Belrose Theatre in San Rafael. This event will have Macy Blackman, Sid Morris and Wendy DeWitt. If you feel like venturing to North Beach, you can hear Macy every Monday and Tuesday in June.

 Macy has a couple CDs that are good listening. His newest, “24 Hours A Day,” demonstrates his ample musical skills and is infused with the New Orleans style. He also has an older CD, “Something For Everybody,” a mixed bag of R&D , be bop and blues.

 For more information about Macy Blackman go to http://www.macyblackman.com/

 For reservations at Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar call 332- 1512 The music schedule can be found at http://www.saylorsrestaurantandbar.com/entertainment.htm

 Wednesday

 Following the trail of boogie woogie piano to the No Name Bar at 757 Bridgeway, Wendy De Witt is holding forth tonight with a surprise guest. Wendy is one of the anointed Queens of Boogie Woogie, which was recently celebrated at the Sweetwater Station in Larkspur.

 Wendy is endowed with incredible musical independence. Each of her hands is under separate control, the result of right-left brain coordination that is the basis for this ability. When her left hand gets to movin, the boogie starts groovin. The right hand spins the melody all in syncopation to that powerful bass line coming from the left. It is marvelous to watch her hands dancing, sort of in circles, around the keyboard.

 “Texas Stomp” sets the tone with it’s quick rhythm and driving bass to get the feet tapping. Wendy’s four-inch heels start to move and her wide brimmed hat is bouncing around. Pretty soon this statuesque woman started singing in a total groove. With the piano filling out the spectrum, all you could have added is drums. Her “Walking Down The Road” was hand clapping good and she got a little vocal help from one table.

 Eugene Huggins showed up and brought some real blues power to the proceedings with a pocket full of harmonicas. Wendy introduced him and they took off with “Mother Earth,” the Memphis Slim classic. Wendy has a unique way of playing this song with a slowly descending bass line that, mixed in with the moaning harmonica, sounded spooky and dark  It sounded like it had been crossed with St. James Infirmary. Real nice.

 Huggins then sang a few songs including some Jimmy Reed and his holiday favorite, “Life Is a Nightmare.”  This is one special song. The pathological precept here may be a laughable absurdity. Describing all the bummers of life, the song has an uplifting beat that gives a happy feeling. He sings it with a smile so you know ther must be some irony in there.

 Wendy closed out the set with a few cuts from her “You’re Not There”  CD. She played “Don’t Want No Man,”  “Unknown Boogie”, and “All You Cab Do Is Cry.” She has another CD titled “Soul Shake.” 

 For more information about Wendy De Witt got to http://www.wendydewitt.com/

 

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