We went to Florence, on the Oregon coast, this past weekend, to the annual Chower, Blues & Brews festival, which pretty much describes it. Usually it's sunny and mild this time of year, and of course, this time it rained off and on ...
Still, we got to taste the chowder and vote on our favorite–blind test, we liked #4–and listen to various blues groups, sample various beers, walk the dogs around the scenic little town. What's not to like?
Dunno who won the cook-off, we missed the announcement and nobody seems to have posted it. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Found it. Firehouse won the professional judge's award, ICM won the fans' tasting.)
One sour note: Our favorite restaurant on the coast, Feast, formerly Crave, had closed. Great food, but not enough local business to see it past the tourist season. We will miss that. I hope the husband and wife chef team found a good gig, they were terrific.
My favorite bluesman was Walker T. Ryan, out of Eugene. He's a guy who spent forty years on the road and is semi-retired these days, sticking close to home, Eugene being just up the road an hour and some.
He covered a lot of material–sets ran two hours–and he talked between numbers, giving us a little about the songs, his personal history, all like that, and I much enjoyed the patter. Music ranged from down-home blues to folk, covers and his own originals, and I particularly liked his "Black Velvet Elvis ..."
"Werewolf Blues" was kind of fun, too.
It was just him, his guitar, and sometimes his harp, and he sat in a chair to play.
There were groups with eight guys: guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, horns, and they were pretty good at it, but what I have found is that the wall-of-sound with the volume at eleven doesn't do it for me any more. I have catholic tastes in regard to the kind of blues–Delta, Memphis, Chicago, Texas, Swamp, all kinds–but I prefer acoustic or lightly amplified sound, and a more intimate setting. Pretty much, we've written off arena rock, unless Sir Paul makes another run our way. I mean, I love B.B. and Buddy and Eric and all, but sitting in a bar having a beer and listening to one player or two or three up close and personal, that's my preference these days. If I have to turn the hearing aids down, you know it's too loud ...