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Mick Martin and His Blues Rockers along with the legendary Big Brother and the Holding Company helped open the two day Nor Cal Blues Festival in Auburn Friday evening.
Martin not only put a sparkle in the twilite with his classic list of hits, but also brought on stage one of his protégé’s, and his Great Grandson, Kyle Rowland who proved that he too can blow a soulful tune on his harp with as much talent and mood as his seasoned and proud Great Pappy Mick has demonstrated on stages all over the world for more then 25 years.
Janis Joplin may have left the band, but Big Brother and the Holding Company (BBHC) never left Janis. Evolving out of the San Francisco rock scene of the 1960s, Big Brother was in the forefront of the psychedelic music movement. The band had what BBHC’s founder Sam Andrew called a "progressive-regressive hurricane blues style," The Auburn Festival also featured two other founding BBHC members Peter Albin on Bass and Dave Getz on Drums (Dave actually replaced Chuck Jones back in 1966 before Janis joined the band). James Gurly, another founding member, who was with BBHC for Joplin’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, passed away in 2009.
What many fans of Joplin’s do not realize is that she actually left BBHC shortly after the success of their album, “Cheap Thrills.” Management had convinced her to go in another direction which had left some of the members of Big Brother who thought of themselves as a “family,” out of the Loop. Sam Andrew continued on with her for a couple more albums but eventually that partnership also ended, and tragically in 1970, Joplin was found alone, dead, in a hotel room from a drug reaction.
Flash-forward 32 years and you will find Big Brother still rockin-it. The original members hair is a bit shorter and greyer but you can tell they are enjoying “turning on” a whole new generation of Rock and Blues fans to the music that made many who thought of themselves as strictly Rock fans into Blues fans and vice versa.
Sam, Peter and Dave may be the veteran Big Brother’s on stage but, replacing Gurley during Friday’s performance was Tom Finch another fairly experienced musician who has been playing with the band for nearly 5 years, but also performs in his own band and provides the most authentic “hippie” look and an eerily similar guitar style as Gurly. The Janis Joplin persona for this evening was the strong vocal styling’s of Stefanie Keys. But what really got the audience, hmmhmm, "off the grass" was the addition of two young performers, including the return of 18 year old Kyle Rowland on Harmonica and an amazing performance by a 15 year old guitar master in the making, Jimmy Cleary.
The Northern California Blues Festival is a first class family friendly blues event. Dedicated to bringing the best in the blues To the area while raising money for and awareness of local charities. This year's event’s featured beneficiary is the Auburn Recreation District Youth Assistance Program, providing anonymous financial assistance to qualifying families for the purpose of enrolling their children into quality sports, arts, and educational programs offered by the District