You missed a hell of a show. There was a huge outpouring of support
for Big Joe Maher.
The only real disappointment was Greg Piccolo. He was a no-show because his plane couldn't land in Dulles because of the weather. Steve Jakobs reconstituted his old band, Baby Jake & the Rattles, and they kicked off the show. Then Catfish Hodge joined them and belted out a couple songs at his most irreverant. Then came Mary Shaver, she put on a powerful set.
Lil' Ronnie & the Grand Dukes came up from Richmond for the show. They don't make this area much and wowed a lot of folks. They did some great swing-blues with a bit of a Rod Piazza tinge.
Next up was Janine Wilson. Her band had Paul Bell on Guitar, benefit organizer Kevin McKendree on keys, and Chris Watling on Bari Sax. Janine grabbed some attention with her set too... but more on that later.
There was a HUGE band on stage for Billy Hancock. In addition to the basic 'Original Tennessee Rockets', John Cocuzzi joined on piano, Jim Stephanson on guitar, and a three piece horn section... Great stuff.
The Grandsons put on a fun little set next. Kevin McKendree got pulled up for the last couple songs.
Severn Records had a big hand in this benefit. They are Big Joe's current label. For the show they brought in Darrell Nulisch, few people knew of him. In year's past he worked with Anson Funderburgh and currently he does the vocal work for James Cotton. Darrell put on a powerful set that had many folk asking "And who's that?". It didn't hurt to have Severn-head-honcho David Earl on guitar.
Next up were a couple local mainstays... Tom Principato always seems to be good in these sort of situations. Add in Kevin McKendree and Jimmy Carpenter on sax from Jimmy Thackery's band. And you've got the best set I've seen out of the man. Up comes Bill Kirchen, who blazed through a couple songs including the infamous 'Hot Rod Lincoln'. He ran through all those imitations with the occasional guitar drop out. With time for one more song, he turned it over to Johnny & Jack to start the song while he thrashed to change cables and then resort to the old trusty paintless-wonder just in time for his solo. In the words of Bill Wax ' throw him a curve, and he still hits a home run.'
Earl King is something of a legend and traveled up from New Orleans for this. The band they assembled for him was pretty impressive. It was basically the Dynaflows (sans Big Joe). They borrowed Delbert McClinton's drummer, Lynn Williams. Kevin McKendree joined John Cocuzzi on organ/piano. And then there was the monster horn section with Chris Watling, Terry Townson (Delbert's trumpeter), and Jimmy Carpenter joining Joe Stanley. I'll be blunt. Earl is past his prime and it was a rough start. But after Earl got warmed up and the band dynamics sorted themselves out it improved and was pretty fun.
Before Delbert McClinton got to close out the show, Big Joe arrived. He came out to thank everyone and crack a few jokes. They raffled off a guitar which was donated by Paul Reed Smith... and was won by one of the sound guys.
Delbert was the not terribly Big Surprise Guest. It was kind of hush-hush, but I guess after the Wolftrap gig they were free to advertize it. Delbert had his whole band. They gained Chris Watling on bari, Joe Stanley and Ron Holloway on tenor saxes. Of course Kevin McKendree was on piano, but he's Delbert's regular, and probably the reason Delbert was there.
Delbert McClinton has been around for quite some time. He's done all sorts of stuff from deep Blues, to R&B, Soul and Country over the years. On stage he's got a huge and totally effortless stage presence. It was hard not to watch, even in the midst of dancing. They went through a couple blues standards, some originals, and some R&B. Then Delbert brought up Big Joe to sing a song. Cocuzzi ended up sharing piano duties. They did two songs to close out the show. Tom Principato joined the band. And Janine Wilson got pulled onto stage. Janine was a bit nervous but adapted and by the second song she was nose to nose with Delbert belting it out.
So often these benefits are an absolute blast, but under attended. There was quite a good crowd for this one... in spite of or perhaps because of the weather. The dance floor was busy but not packed most of the night... Delbert's set being the obvious exception. Damn fine night... and that 11pm ending was more like 12:30...