Tom Bowers and Curtis Lawson
NIGHT BEAT on Rhythm Street Joe Tate
This evening, I’m back at the Sausalito Cruising Club to hear the Tom Bowers Boogie Band. Tom Bowers is the fine bass player who also sings with Billy Dunn at the Blue Monday jam sessions that are held here. Tonight, he is backed by Dennis Geyer and Pierre LeTor on guitar with Randy Hayes on drums. The admission is $10 which includes the buffet dinner. Tonight’s buffet has salads, pasta, bread and chicken plus some dessert goodies.
Starting off with the Kenny Burrell classic, “Chitlins Con Carne,” the groove is set for low key, low volume with lots of chatter filling up the spaces between notes. With the sun sinking low over the panoramic view of Richardson Bay, it couldn’t be better. Our plates are full and with any drink you want, the music is just right.
This is a two-guitar band, which is to my liking. This used to be standard, but has become less common. These guys use their guitars like a kind of duet. The effect is created by trading licks in a call and response pattern. One guitar calls out a short phrase and the other answers with a complement. It’s a little different than the more common “taking fours” in which each instrument alternately plays four bars.
Tom sings a couple B.B. King songs and follows with T-Bone Walker’s “Times Is Hard.” When Dennis Geyer sings “Don’t Have To Worry Bout A Thing” with a mambo beat, people start to dance. Next is an original treatment of Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man.” All I can tell you is that it was a refreshing departure from the original style.
The set finishes with Albert Collins “Frosty,” after which I head for the Presidio Yacht Club to check out the Blues Explosion featuring Curtis Lawson, Lisa Kindred and Eugene Huggins.
The Sausalito Cruising Club is located at Dunphy Park, near the intersection of Bridgeway and Nap Street. Call 332 9349 for information or go to http://www.sausalitocruisingclub.com/.
The Presidio Yacht Club is a short distance away at Fort Baker near the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Curtis, dressed in a red suit with blue sequined cape and hat, is backed by the Eugene Huggins Blues Band with Gabe Navarre on guitar, David Kemp on Bass, Jake Baker on drums and Eugene assisting on harmonica and vocals. Lisa Kindred, the Down Home Girl, is also here to entertain us with her brand of homey blues.
The band warms up the room with a few songs sung by Eugene, which are infused with strong harmonica and guitar solos. Eugene introduces Curtis, who makes a grand entrance with a swirl of his cape.
Curtis gets the room moving with “Shake, Rattle And Roll”. Without stopping they segue to “Flip Flop And Fly.” The whole dance floor fills up right away. The room comes to fever pitch when Eugene’s harmonica cuts in.
It has been a hot day. Now the fog is coming in thru the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a spectacular sight from the clubhouse window and it is cooling everyone off.
Curtis gives us “Stagger Lee” and there is no holding back. The dance floor is no longer big enough. There’s dancing at the bar and all around the tables. Curtis has ditched the cape and is now running back and forth in front of the band. There is no stage, so he is right in there with the dancers.
Now that I think about it, the stage creates a barrier between the performer and the audience that is often needed. But here? What the heck, this is really fun and, because everyone is keeping their cool, no stage is needed.
One of Curtis Lawson’s great songs is “My Woman, My Girl, My Wife.” It’s a slow tune, dedicated to his wife, Linda. This eases the room back from early exhaustion. Just in time too, because a bunch more people are streaming in.
The door is open and the fog is blowing in, making all the burgees flutter along the ceiling. The room is plenty warm from body heat though.
Now we get a string of rockers from, Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place to Go,” to Jimmy Reed’s “Ain’t That Lovin You Baby”. Then it’s “Walkin The Dog”, “Early In The Mornin” and “What You Gonna Do?” After “Johnny Be Good” the set finishes out with “Dock Of The Bay” which morphs into “Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa.”
Lisa Kindred Comes to the stage and picks up where Curtis left off, launching into “Let The Good Times Roll,” followed by a few selections of a similar bag. The place is packed now and the vibe is right.
Soon we are informed that Miss Boudeeka O’Conner is going to sing. She is known for her work with the Unauthorized Rolling Stones. She also is a cast member of the Summer Of Love Revue in which she sings both Janis Joplin and Grace Slick.
Boudeeka serves up “Blue Bayou” and “Chain Of Fools” with her sultry soprano voice. The band chimes in with the “chain, chain, chain” responses, giving it an authentic Aretha sound.
Lisa and Curtis finish the evening with a rousing blues duet that is made up of traded lines taken from several different songs that are improvised together in a very coherent and listenable way.
Curtis Lawson has been singing blues in the Bay Area for more than 50 years. He has three CDs: “Live At The Saloon,” “Ain’t No Cure For The Blues” and “Legend In My Own Time.” He was recently honored by the City Of San Francisco for his cultural contributions. Go to http://www.curtislawson.net/music.html. to learn more.
Lisa Kindred has a CD called “Steppin Up In Class.” She also made an LP with Vanguard records in 1965. She sang with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Bob Dylan, David Crosby and many others. Go to http://www.sfblues.net/LisaKindred.html for more information.
To contact the Presidio Yacht Club call 332 2319 or go to http://www.presidioyachtclub.org/