Monday, June 15, 2009

A Maine Man in Chicago

So, Alicia and I went to visit friends and family in Chicago over the weekend. Unfortunately, I lost my camera on the plane and Alicia's camera battery died after she took her first picture- so I have nothing to illustrate this blog post.

Anyway, by coincidence, we happened to visit the Windy City on the same weekend as the Chicago Blues Festival, the largest free blues festival in the world. Samuel James, Portland bluesman extraordinare and Tower of Song alumni, also happened to be playing a set at the prestigious event on Saturday afternoon. So, with friends in tow (and a bottle of wine in our bag), we headed down to Grant Park to see one of our favorite musicians do his thing.

Even though I've seen Sam James perform live close to a dozen times, he never fails to do something to blow my mind (whether he plays a hambone cover of the Ramones' "The KKK Took My Baby Away", explains the origins of One-Eyed Katie, or reveals his love of Steven Seagal)- this time was certainly no exception. Sam James played a set that combined his great originals (Wooooo Rosa, Babydoll), masterful performances of legendary Blues standards (Son House's Death Letter), inventive covers (Leonard Cohen's Tonight Will Be Fine), with his humorous stage banter and a slow strip tease as the day grew hotter.

However, he saved his best, most mind-blowing feat for last with his final song- a cover of John Lee Hooker's Hobo Blues- that involved him playing his guitar practically as if it was a Yo-Yo, dropping it to his lap, then spinning it around, playing the resonator frame with his pick-adorned fingers, and dancing his slide up and down the frets. It truly had to be seen to be believed, but it was one of the most virtuoso (and fun!) guitar performances I've ever seen.

It's great to see incredible Maine musicians spreading their gospel outside our Northern State, and I hope to see more of our gifted citizens out on the road (just as long as they promise to come back).

Check out more of Sam James' music here. He also plays most Thursday nights at Blue.

No comments:

Post a Comment