“I Heard That”: Blues at Yoshi’s on DA ‘MO!

by Rochelle Metcalfe on April 15, 2009

BLUES ON DA MO’ AT YOSHI’S – NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT! Last Friday night REUNITED with members of the AMIGOS Blues Lovers Club to welcome LEGENDARY GOSPEL AND BLUES SOUL MAN OTIS CLAY! About 20 Amigos who reside as far away as Sacramento, included President GWEN DEBOW known as DR. “G”, and CHARLES COATES, Executive Director.

The Amigos travel cross country to BLUES FESTIVALS, and friends with Clay who reside in Chicago, and acknowledged their presence throughout the evening. The 2-night weekend engagement was Clay’s DEBUT to the San Francisco club, but played Oakland Yoshi’s about 11 years ago, AND a SUPERSTAR with soul fans in Japan where he’s performed many times; there were a few in the audience.

Also There to welcome Clay, popular radio station KPOO’s Blues JOCK NOEL (HAYES), Blues fans DEB LUBIN, ETTA LUNDY, vocalist BARBARA GAINER, LUCRETIA BJORKLAND who found space to SOLO dance on the side aisle near a wall – DA GIRL CAN’T HELP IT – rhythm in her bones, just can’t sit down whenever she hears the Blues!

Caught the first show and my first time hearing CLAY LIVE! These days backed by an excellent band comprised of a few sidemen once part of the late TYRONE DAVIS band. Clay’s son on drums. THE Band set the pace with the funky piece entitled “Pass the Peas”. First show saw Clay trying to get the feel of the room, midway GOT IT!

A soul singer in the tradition of Solomon Burke, with Mississippi roots, born in WAXHAW, moved to Chicago as a youth , where his career took off as a gospel singer in the mid-60s. Handsome gentleman, tall, winning stage presence; warm smile puts you at ease, felt the tender lyrics, heartfelt, passionate, listening to “When Hearts Grow Cold,” “You’re the One I want to be with”. Expressed he’s a firm believer in being happy – delved into “Take Me To the River,” performed his Grammy Nominated song, dedicated to those that’s doing something in life “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” soulful “Precious, Precious,” “Trying to Live My Life Without You,” concluded with Al Greens’ “Love and Happiness.” HEARD SECOND SHOW WAS HOT!

Clay, well respected in his community of Chicago’s West Side, helped in fundraising and development of the HAROLD WASHINGTON Cultural Center, named after the late Chicago mayor and congressman. IF in NEW ORLEANS later this month Clay will perform at the 8th Annual PONDEROSA STOMP, April 28 and 29 at the House of Blues in New Orleans.

STILL ON DA STREET – stopped in 1300 … there was Bayview businessman/community activist CHARLIE WALKER, always impeccably dressed, deep in conversation with his LOYAL POSSE!

WELCOME BACK JASON! In column dated January 21, expressed my disenchantment over Artistic Director BILL KUBECZKO announcement JAZZ would no longer be the MAIN focus of SF’s Yoshi’s lineup; plans to include other forms of music! My thoughts were YOSHI’S WOULD LOSE ITS WORLD RENOWN FLAVOR AS A JAZZ CLUB!!! MANAGEMENT WOKE UP!!! GOOD NEWS when I received E-MAIL notice last week JASON OLAINE IS BACK – BILL IS GONE! OLAINE hired as CLUB’S NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR – NOW YOU’RE TALKING KAZ KAJIMURA!!!

I’ve been covering Yoshi’s since the club was on CLAREMONT Avenue, North Berkeley, a time of great jazz lineups! Met Jason during this time when he was ARTISTIC DIRECTOR 1993-1999, DISAPPOINTED when he moved on to other endeavors. Owner KAZ statement “We’ve long wanted to bring Jason back into the fold, so when he became available we jumped at the opportunity! Yoshi’s GREW TREMENDOUSLY UNDER JASON’S WATCH. WE’RE VERY EXCITED TO HAVE HIM BACK ON-BOARD BOOKING YOSHI’S SF.” ME TOO!!!

‘MO JAZZ NOTES….SFJAZZ GALA TRIBUTE honoring JAZZ MASTER pianist McCOY TYNER with Bobby Hutcherson & The SF Jazz Collective, Saturday, April 25, at Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco, and a BENEFIT for SFJAZZ artistic and education programs. Tyner, acclaimed for his tidal piano style and masterly compositions, is a timeless artist who continues to transport listeners to previously unimagined worlds. SFJAZZ After -Jam performance by contemporary BLUES artist JOE LOUIS WALKER.

EASTER SUNDAY over at BLISS BAR on 24th Street (between Noe and Castro ) to hang with world renowned versatile pianist LARRY VUKOVICH, promoter, Art of the Duo Series EVERY SUNDAY starting at 4:30 p.m. Easter featured guest SCAT MASTER vocalist KENNY WASHINGTON who has a range of more than four octaves – he’s AWESOME! The intimacy of Bliss perfect! AND He and VUKOVICH A perfect fit!

Kenny’s free style, improvisation and spontaneous mood, percolating scat, held us in the palm of his hands, mesmerized! Flavored New Orleans roots, comfortable on the San Francisco Bay Area scene, his long awaited CD, “Kenny Washington LIVE at Anna’s Jazz Club” located in Berkeley, captures the style and ESSENCE of the SCAT MASTER! .

HAPPY 14th Anniversary to STEVE AND TINA SUEN owners San Francisco’s BISCUIT AND BLUES CLUB….CELEBRATION BLAST SUNDAY EVENING, March 22. TERRIFIC HOUSE BAND, 20 musicians, who have appeared on stage through the years, brought their ax – the likes of BOBBY “SPIDER” WEBB, sassy KIM NALLEY (GIRLFRIEND GETTING MARRIED THIS MONTH!!!! AGAIN!..); FREE FOOD AND DRINKS FLOWED ALL NIGHT – ANNIVERSARY THE TALK OF THE BLUES CIRCUIT!!!

OVER AT VELMA’S, Home of the Sunday Blues and Jazz Club, NOW STREAMING LIVE Sunday night SHOWS on the internet. Recent headliner recording artist Memphis, TN Blues and Southern SOUL singer LAROME “GYPSY” POWERS, backed by swinging Bay Area musicians!

THURSDAY, April 23, Jazz musicians’ HEALTHCARE performance FUNDRAISER at the popular club, 6 p.m. NOTED recording artist trumpeter EDDIE GALE, America’s Jazz Healthcare Performance Committee (AJMHP) and host of Bay Area Jazz musicians and friends will perform. INFO: (408) 294-3173.

SADDEN by the news as I went to DEADLINE, THE REV. soulful Saxophonist RON STALLINGS, A BAY AREA AND BEYOND STELLAR musician passed Tuesday. My condolences to family members that include vocalist MARY STALLINGS. April 26 a scheduled TRIBUTE to Ron that will go on as planned in celebration of his contributions to the music, and help defray hospital cost incurred during his illness, at La PENA CULTURAL CENTER, BERKELEY. Info: (510) 849-2568.

HEY, IT’S NICE TO BE NICE AND TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE … LOOK FOR ME … I’LL BE THERE …
E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net

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