Well, only a couple of us made it out to the benefit at the not quite reopened State Theatre. And I think I can speak for everyone there, you missed out on a incredible show. I know lots of folks had things to do, just wanted to enjoy the lovely day, or were intimidated by the $20 cover. For that sum, you got a good 11 hours of music by some of the areas best and a few surprises too... to say nothing of our little exhibitionist moment.
To start the State Theatre is quite a piece of work. It is an old movie theater in the heart of Falls Church. The renovation is not quite complete and very impressive. The main floor is probably as big as the Bichmere's Band Stand with an added balcony that covers a third of the floor's length. That area below the balcony is devoted to tables. And the rest of the area is dance floor... wait it isn't 'officially' a dance floor. Apparently Virginia regs require extra permits for a 'dance floor'. So it has been broken up into three dancefloorlets that pass the regs. So whatever you want to call them, the floor is a very nice wooden one and it dances quite well. Jack Hilton, myself, Patti Innis, and Sharon Lampray selflessly tested that most of the night.
The place has been restored to an art deco manner. And they've spared little expense on the sound and lighting systems. Special credit goes to the sound guys who managed to deal with dozens of band memebers without a hiccup... even better they made them sound great. The kitchen wasn't quite done, but the food they had was passable, though Jack's Nachos were expensive. And the Air Conditioning system wasn't quite functional yet. But it didn't get all that hot.
First up was Robert Lighthouse. He did his solo acoustic set... Quite nice. Dave Sherman & the Nightcrawlers followed. I don't think many of you have seen this band. I only know of them because my harp teacher thought the world of Roger Edsall. Dave Sherman plays a mix of 50/50 blues & swing...great fun and very danceable. After that Mary Shaver hijacked Dave's band to do her set. Mary's voice reminds me a lot of Sue Foley... very strong but with a thick southern accent.
After a bit of a break, they cobbled together a band consisting of Flatfoot Sam, Tom Principato's rhythm section, and (apparently on leave from Carey Bell's Band) Steve 'Baby Jake' Jacobs. This bunch did a couple songs and then formed the basis for Nap Turner's vocals.
Following Nap, the J Street Jumpers came on. Local swing dance favorites, these guys formed from the breakup of the Uptown Rhythm Kings. I've seen them many times. This is the BEST performance I've seen from them. The horns sounded great and strong, Rusty Bogart's wonderful guitar work, Arthur Gurstein's piano, and particularly Marianna Priviti's powerful singing. It really fit the venue too. You were almost transported back to the big band era.
Tom Principato is a local guitar master. He certainly showed his stuff last night, including a wonderful tribute to Danny Gatton. But I agree with Chris Kirsh that Tom is better (and seems to be having more fun) when he's sitting in with someone elses band.
Soul Purpose was up next. They were a very good band. Considering the name, I expected soul music, but what we got was 70's/80's rock... kind of Boston-ish.
Things were running rather late at this point. So Flatfoot Sam got stuck with a short set. The Educated Fools grew to unheard of perportions with the addition of Steve Jacobs & Tom Principato on guitar, Benji Porecki on keys, and a trumpeter to supplement Sam's usual wonderful saxiphonist. It was short, but a lot of fun. Sam always manages to put on a great show. And it is all very danceable.
Mary Ann Redmond got to close out the show (it didn't end 'til 12:30am). She added Benji Porecki and borrowed bassist Scott Ambush from Spyro Gyra for the show. All I can say is WOW. We had some great singers this night, but I love to hear Mary Ann. Only the occasional song is danceable, but the show is well worth it. I particularly enjoy the final song (Knock on Wood) which ended in everyone getting short solos and ultimately Scott Ambush and guitarist Mike Alt duelling.
Great fun. Thanks to all those involved, especially to the band members and others who volunteered their time. David Benson made some money for his cancer treatments, and I know he had a good time. But to cap it all off the Falls Church constabulary presented yours truely with a citation for an Illegal Right on Red. [ugh]