Blue Christmas for kids raises funds for Sacramento Children’s Home
People came for the music and because Sunday’s musical feast at Folsom’s Powerhouse Pub was a charity event. At $15 per ticket, with six bands lined up to cover a spectrum of blues music, and all ticket proceeds benefiting the 147 year old Sacramento Children’s Home, there was no better place to be.
The Randy Carey Band opened the show at 1:50 p.m. and their rocking country blues sound had people dancing early on. They opened with “Born Under a Bad Sign,” sung by Carey, who also penned several of the songs, including “Blue Boy Blues,” their next to last song. The band’s rendition of “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues” had feet tapping and bodies swaying in seats and on the dance floor that was in use for five hours Sunday.
“They really deserve your help,” said Carey, speaking of the children at the Sacramento Children’s Home, the event’s beneficiary. Carey also reminded the audience that it was going to be a great day of music, a promise fulfilled by his band and the five that followed.
The band closed with a slow song, “People, People, People,” originally performed by Jimi Hendrix in the 1960’s, but sung Sunday by Ron Cook. Carey and Cook were the vocalists on an eight song set. The band hosts the first Sunday blues jams from 2-6 p.m. at Louie’s in Rancho Cordova and participate, like many others performing Sunday, in fundraisers throughout the year.
A ten minute break for the scurry of set changing followed. Instruments were carried off and on stage as the Randy Carey Band made way for Gumbo Stew, a Bay Area based band that opened with Kathy Tejcka singing “Maybe Someday Baby,” a Delbert McClinton song that she did more than justice to.
Tejcka, vocalist and keyboardist, also fronts her own band as do many of Sunday’s performers. She previously performed with Johnny Nitro whose musical roots are Sacramento-based, and who passed away this year. Fans may find her New Year’s Eve day in San Francisco at The Saloon.
About Sunday’s event, Tejcka said, “Gumbo Stew had a great day, great venue, great people, great Blues Society!”
Stewart Burr, drummer and leader of Gumbo Stew reminded the audience why they were all there, thanked Rick von Geldern and the Powerhouse Pub for making the event happen and pointed to the bar saying, “Visit Scott.”
Burr’s request to “shake your butts on the dance floor” was answered by more people when the band played an old Billy Preston tune, “Will It Go Round in Circles?” The four-piece band in bright shirts presented their zydeco and soul spin on the blues for nearly an hour and made several new fans.Among attendees at Sunday’s event were members of the Sacramento Blues Meetup group. They had a table away from stage, but the group’s members were fixtures on the dance floor, dancing sometimes alone, sometimes with other members, and sometimes with the musicians. Mari Lu Onweller was Sunday’s meetup host and said that twenty-two members had registered online.
Gumbo Stew completed their set, quickly dismantled their instruments, including Burr’s drum set, and made room for Pinkie Rideau and her band of four, who opened with Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man” and the first harmonica of the day. They lived up to the tune’s lyrics of keeping the audience satisfied.
Rideau, clad in a pink-sequined top and matching pant insets, was playful with both her band and the audience. She offered ten copies of her cd, “Long Walk off a Short Pier – Pinkie & Blind Resistance Live at Lou’s Pier 47,” stating that all proceeds would be donated to the Sacramento Children’s Home. One attendee quickly bought two while Rideau was still on stage. Five more were sold throughout the afternoon.
“We’re here for the kids,” she said. She thanked “each and every one” for attending.
“I thought it was a phenom!” said Rideau about Sunday’s event. “Great music from beginning to end.” She credited the smooth transitions and timeliness to Rick von Geldern and said, “The sound guy, Bradley, did a marvelous job.”
Indeed, Bradley Kent made sure that the sound was excellent, surely not an easy task with six bands playing different versions of blues music.
Rideau continued, “We are all so fortunate to be able to perform at concerts like this. We pay it forward and do things for others – without pay. In this instance, it’s Christmas for the kids that are less fortunate. I tell my guys that we do four benefits a year, but we do more than that – it humbles them and me.”
Humble, energized and fun describes not only Rideau’s singing but Jay Cavileer’s harmonica playing. Cavileer played for the audience and used his entire body, at times kicking up one leg or the other.
Channing Heath played bass, Rodney Alcover played guitar and Big Dave Watkins kept the drums beating. Primarily the vocalist and sometimes storyteller, Rideau picked up her guitar for a slower song that Celeste Lemen, one of the Meetup attendees called “beautiful.”
One of the audience favorites was Rideau’s live performance of “Camel Toe Boogie,” which John Rohlman, an audience member, particularly enjoyed.
“It don’t get any better than this,” said Rohlman. “Not only was this a worthy cause but the entertainment was as worthy as the cause.” Rohlman was later spotted dancing with Rideau.
A new cd is expected in March and the band can be found in February in Reno performing at “A Tribute to the Kings of Blues,” another benefit.
A flurry of activity once again ensued to move Pinkie Rideau, an audience favorite, off the stage to make room for the next act.
Ron Alexander, the CEO of the Sacramento Children’s Home, was introduced by Rick von Geldern, the event’s emcee and stage manager and the bandleader/guitarist for Sacramento Blues Revue. Alexander spoke briefly about the history of his organization and thanked the musicians and audience.
Pailer and Adams took the stage next. Wingnut Adams was the harmonica player and primary vocalist Sunday when he, Jimmy Pailer on guitar, Leigh Lonetta on drums and Dave Chanell on bass performed to an ever-growing crowd.
“How’s everyone doing?” preceded “Will you be good enough to let me get funky?” Adams then blew his harmonica and did indeed get funky, much to the enjoyment of the audience.
Adams, the 2008 West Coast Blues Hall of Fame “Bandleader of the Year” released his most recent album, “Will Work for Groove” in June. He teamed with Pailer of the Jimmy Pailer Band for a performance Sunday that was exciting, powerful and fun.
Pailer and Adams perform regularly at Sacramento’s Torch Club on Wednesdays, both have new cd’s, and Adams said that he’s headed to the studio after Christmas to work on an album due out February, 2012.
Like Rideau, Adams is a storyteller and musician who obviously loves to interact with the audience. He often led into songs via stories and played the harmonica with as much passion and fun as any great blues harmonica player, but with his particular funky spin.
“Give yourselves a hand for coming out on a Sunday right after church,” he said. “It’s all about having a good time.”
A good time was had by musicians and audience alike, and Adams said that he was glad to see the musicians come together.
Adams was not the band’s only vocalist, as proved by Chanell’s performance of the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried,” the band’s final song before passing the stage to the Sacramento Blues Revue.
Von Geldern, the man of many hats and shirts Sunday, had changed into his Sacramento Blues Revue print shirt, and thanked everyone for coming out, reminding them to buy tickets for the raffle to be held after his band finished playing.
Up for grabs with tickets just $2 each was a white, Fender Starcaster guitar donated by Skip’s Music and signed by all of the musicians. Other prizes included signed event posters and a signed canvas piece, “The Blues are Good for a Man.”
The Sacramento Blues Revue took the stage with ten of its eleven band members, rotating vocalists Deacon Baker, Marshal Wilkerson and Lena Mosley throughout their set. Mosley’s rendition of “Chain of Fools” clearly showed why she was inducted into the Sacramento Blues Hall of Fame this year. Jonny “Mojo” Flores led the band as vocalist on at least one song. This Sammie award-winning band with its R&B spin filled the stage and proved to be an audience favorite that many felt didn’t play long enough.
Von Geldern enlisted the aid of Lady Rhythm, the band’s drummer, to pull tickets for the raffle while the stage was being cleared of their instruments and set up for the final event band.
The first two prizes, the signed event posters, were won by a member of the Meetup group and a woman named Renee. The canvas piece was won by a man who looked like he would have rather won the guitar, but his ticket, like the previous winners’ tickets, went back into the drawing for the signed Fender Starcaster.
The first ticket pulled produced no winner. Von Geldern extended the tension felt throughout the pub as he call “8 – 2 – 4,” then paused. The sound of tickets rustling could be heard throughout the otherwise relatively quiet establishment. Von Geldern asked a couple of people what ticket numbers they had, then finished with “4 – 2 – 7.”
A man headed toward the stage, and Rideau soon caught up with him. “That is our guitarist,” she said, and
was presented with the guitar signed on both front and back.
grinned and looked like he wanted to eat the guitar. Lady Rhythm smiled throughout the drawing as she had during her drumming. She, like many of the musicians, had been spotted throughout the day dancing and assisting other musicians with their gear.
“I love kids from the bottom of my heart and they are our future today!” said Lady Rhythm about the day’s event.
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats completed the event with their harmonica-driven, blues/jump style. Indeed, Estrin’s harmonica was heard and enjoyed by attendees upstairs and downstairs.
No matter which band people came out to hear, a great time was had by all.
Sunday’s event, the 2nd annual Blue Christmas for Kids, surely will not be the last based on the response of both musicians and audience, as well as von Geldern’s words.
“I intend this event to be annual.”
Editor’s note: Edits have been made to the name of the artists after publication.