Blues on The Hill (May 23rd)

At the point of climax, in every great Blues riff, lies enlightenment.

Big guys and gals releasing hounds from plantation porches in North Mississippi and hard-knock guitars and harmonicas in the Arkansas Delta are the source of the Blues.

Stories like, “She’s got the Devil in Her.” Featuring Arkansas Delta’s, Jimbo Mathus on guitar, Buddy Guy sings about a woman who has the devil in her and feels like doing something wrong. It’s low down, dirty, and you feel rhythm deep in your soul.

Chicago’s blues scene may not be the birthplace of the heart-aching, soul-wrenching, dirty, nasty blues (this is the Delta), but to say Chicago Blues refined the genre’ into a widespread more cultivated art form is an understatement. Chicago was the destination point for the best blues musicians on Earth to showcase their talent.

checkerboard lounge
Hound Dog Taylor, Lefty Dizz, and James Cotton in front of the Checkerboard Lounge, 43rd St., Chicago
MS Blues
Tim Duffy spent 20 years amassing photographs of blues and roots musicians.

It’s natural to digress, when delving deep into the blues. Chicago’s Southside, former landmark, The Checkerboard Lounge (owned by Buddy Guy) used to anchor juke-joint laden neighborhoods. Now, he owns Legends, one of the best music venues in all the land.

Follow highway 55 South to the back streets and alleys of St. Louis. There is The Fox Theatre and Blueberry Hill. Music consistent Springfield, Missouri and a double-double in Tulsa – Cain’s Ballroom and Mercury Lounge are all destinations on this historical blues highway tour chalking maps vertically.

At the peak of all things good, a gem in Northwest Arkansas. Fayetteville’s Walton Arts Center presents, “An Evening with Buddy Guy” Tuesday, May 23rd at 7pm.

Buddy Guy is the epicenter of Chicago Blues and the best guitarist alive today. Seven-time Grammy winner and 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Buddy Guy, age 79, is an icon. He’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and a major influence on important guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His legendary electric blues performances in Chicago’s West Side will live forever.

To compliment your evening try a pre-concert dinner at Herman’s Rib House in North Fayetteville, stroll Dickson for a bit before the show and catch a band at famed Maxine’s Tap Room for a night cap.

PhunkBerry, NWA’s Forgotten Eden

PhunkBerry17 bands, one main stage, and a tent that might as well be hosted by the Ghost of Eureka Spring’s Crescent Hotel.

Not too far from ‘tall Jesus’ towering above the Ozark Forrest is “The Farm.” The 160 acre venue boasts beautiful 360 degrees panoramic views. 160 acres often forgotten.

Huck Finn and his buddy Jim could nearly skip a rock from the upper reaches of one of the three forks sourcing the famed White River, not too far east, from Razorback Stadium. One of the helicopters rising vertically from the retail capital of the world’s local airport could arrive at the farm in no less the a quarter hour. If the river didn’t flow north for a bit, you could tube to the farm, from Branson, but it does flow north, for a bit. This Ozark gem cuddles the Mark Twain National Forrest, Table Rock Lake, Beaver Lake, and the White River … all within 5 miles of the venue.

Phunkberry reigns supreme for late night carpetbaggers. These festival goers want it no other way. Searching for a getaway from nearby ever-growing Northwest Arkansas, touristy Eureka Springs, and show-tune Branson, the weary limp in to release and re-fuel with experience.

Phunkberry bands

Thursday’s tent revival begins at 7PM. Friends of the Phamily open the festival, easing you into the groove. Heartbyrne and Steady Flow will take you through midnight and Henry + The Invisibles invite you to destroy the natural dance floor beneath your bare feet after 1AM.

Friday introduces 5 back-to-back shows on the Main Stage. Cadillac Jackson jams at 3:20PM, followed by Son’s of Funk, Juno What, The Motet, and Russ Liquid. “The Tent” is just waking up at 2AM. Hosting is Back Up Planet.

Saturday, around 2:30PM, Henna Roso takes the main stage. 5 bands follow: The Fritz, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Kung Fu, The Werks, Manic Focus, Main Stage, and The Focus. “The Tent” will be rocking and The 1 oz. Jig will guide you through Sunday’s sunrise.

Sunday is a day of rest. Peace be to all attending Phunkberry.

ByrdFest and a conversation with Jimmy Tebeau

Driving to Byrdfest is like meandering through God’s canvas, a jaw dropping experience amid the scenic Ozark Highlands.

The campout concert will again be hosted by Byrd’s Adventure Center. If you want adventure, between tunes, this is the place. Kayak, Raft, Canoe, Fish, Hike, Mountain Bike, Rock Climb, 4×4 and more. No shortage of outdoor adventure in this part of the country.

Byrdfest

Reserve your campsite early, because when you arrive the activity from experienced festival goers is dizzying and you’ll be somewhat confused about whether to jump right in or find and set up camp. Waterfront primitive sites, wooded seclusion, and RV/camper hookups are available. Restrooms and showers are also on site, making roughing it modern convenience.

Energy and encouragement reign at Byrdfest. People show-up, rain or shine, for a combination of music and like-minded folk. Handshakes and burdens are checked at the gate for hugs and smiles. Flying disc and early season sunburn are the only worries.

Extended family is what it’s all about. The cult following of all things good unite at Byrd’s Adventure Center deep in the Ozark Mountains, April 21 – 23 for 2 days of campsite concert experience.

Organize camp and seamlessly delve in the flow. The picturesque Mulberry River deepens aesthetics. Sounds of trickling water mix well with laughter and rhythmic Djembe. Riverside banjos and mandolins gently echo throughout the hills.

Sensory symphonies can be soul jolting. Smells of campfires surrounded by conversations from old friends and new dot your environment. Take a deep breath and be mindful of everything around you, and inside of you. You’re here, you’re safe, and you’re grinning ear to ear.

Entering the gates of musical Eden, sights, like twirling fire, acro-yoga, stilt walkers, and Hoop Dance compliment the heady bands.

Once again, Grateful Dead Experience: The Schwag will headline Friday and Saturday evenings. The four-piece ensemble are dedicated to carrying on the vibe and music of the legendary Grateful Dead.

I caught up with my friend Jimmy Tebeau this week at The Schwag’s home base in St. Louis, the old Brown Shoe Company. The building fits the Schwag’s cultural preservation of all things beautiful.

“I knew I wanted to be a musician early in life and create a different type of energy. In 1989, I was at the Grateful Dead concert in Alpine Valley. The energy and power of what a musician can do with music and interact with the crowd.”

This powerful experience led him to study Jazz and Music Theory in college and he earned an Associate in Arts degree in 1994. He founded Camp Zoe in Salem, MO – a 400-acre festival site/campground, the source of Campsite Concerts.

Jimmy has played with the best: String Cheese Incident, Vince Welnick, Chuck Berry, Butch Trucks, Devon Allman, Papa Mali, Future Man to name a few. He founded The Schwag in 1991 and toured the country with The Jerry Garcia Band for 4 years starting in 2009.

“When Jerry died, I wondered, Is it over? Is anyone else going to be able to do this?”

Jimmy immersed himself in understanding 3 chord, 9 minute intervals creating different waves of energy.

“Sometimes it’s not what we do, it’s what we didn’t do.” This is the magic of Jimmy Tebeau and The Schwag.

In parting, Jimmy Tebeau says,

“Be kind to your fellow man and watch out for each other. I paused and asked Jimmy what the one thing he’d want his fans to know about him. His answer, “I appreciate you. It’s not us and them, it’s we, no barrier.”

The walls are coming down April 21, at Byrdfest. The venue is not complete, but booked so far:

  • Old Shoe is a five-piece Americana Roots Rock band based out of Chicago, Illinois. Made up of talented songwriters from across the country.
  • Pink Floyd Tribute: Floyd Animals tend to put you in a state of daze.

And our very own pride of the Ozarks,

  • Mountain Sprout, articulating life of dry counties, turkey buzzards, and river floats.

Freelance dancing from people of all ages and race are welcomed with kind words free of judgement. Disc throwing experts teaching kids the art of frisbee, and culinary campfire chefs are always generous to the occasional passerby.

Familiar faces, sounds, smells, and sights might lead closed minded to ponder what’s really going on here. Love, this is all. A whole lot of love.