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2013 Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival at Fort Fisher Recreation Area - Day One

By: Sheryl Bryant

The 2013 Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival kicked off with a blast about 12:30 PM on Saturday, October 12th and boogied its way through Sunday evening about 6 PM. Thanks to the Festival's awesome sponsors for bringing us this fantastic festival once again. This was Year 20 for the Festival and a big milestone for its organizers. Thanks to President Gail McCloskey and Assistant Director Greg Reynolds of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce for their extensive work to get the event up and running. Diamond sponsors and Chamber Champions Bryant Realty were instrumental once again in solidly backing the Festival. The following area radio stations and entrepreneurs also support the Festival:

The Penguin 98.3
The Hawk 94.5
Jammin' 99.9
WWAY 3
The Port City Daily
R.A. Jeffries Distributing
Extreme Campers
Palm Air Realty
Perry's Emporium
The Golden Sands Motel

Jump starting the festival on the Blues Stage was a band called Big Bump and the Stun Gunz(BB&SG) from Greensboro, NC. A three piece band armed with a mean harmonica, bass guitar and drums, BB&SG rocked out the blues. The band boasted Shelia Klinefelter on bass, Bubba "Big Bump" Klinefelter on guitar and harmonica and Eric Smith on drums. BB&SG performed some excellent covers like Joe Cocker's version of the Boxtops "The Letter" and The Allman Brothers "Statesboro Blues". It's no doubt up for debate, but likely the most memorable cover was the touching "Six Strings Down" (Heaven Done Called) written by the great Jimmie Vaughan. Songs Like "Let the Good Times Roll"(where the drummer displayed his vocal talent) and "Rock Me Baby" got the crowd dancing early in the event. Towards the close of the set with Big Bump slaying it on the mouth harp, the Stun Gunz tackled Jim Reeves "Your Love is Slipping Away from Me".

Billed as a blues/rock guitar prodigy, 14 year old Connecticut native Bobby Paltauf of The Bobby Paltauf Experience (BPE) swept the crowd off and then back up onto its feet. Taking notes from the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan - as well as Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy, Paltauf is clearly an honor student. Starting out with a creative rendition of the Beatles "Eleanor Rigby", this four piece ensemble then threw down on Albert Collins "The Lights are on But Nobody's Home". The BPE brought on the sunshine as the sun peered out from the clouds at the onset of Hendrix "Little Wing". Next up they wrang the neck off Jaco Pastorious "The Chicken". Drummer Caitlin Kalafus is special and was just killing it on the drums. This crowd absolutely adored watching Caitlin womanhandle the drums. At the age of 13, this chick snatched the title of World's Fastest Female Drummer! Miles Livolsi was literally smokin' on bass and ABSOLUTELY essential on the keyboards was Steve Detory who just made that Korg cry. Not only was his organ powerful, Detory was getting right with his dance moves and energetically motivating the crowd.

Paltauf and the Experience nailed the Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street" and did an admirable job on the Allman Brothers "Southbound", the song being dedicated to the entire audience by keyboardist Detory in honor of our charming Southern hospitality. Two original tunes, "Atmosphere" and "Lost and Found", were introduced to the crowd and went over very well. The teenaged Paltauf has some strong young lungs and already has enough rawness in his changing voice to belt the blues. The grit and gravel are working their way into his vocal chords also. Usually I find that musicians of his tender young age have a promising future, but this boy is already fulfilling his promise! The Bobby Paltauf Experience brought it and we applaud it!



The Justin Fox Trio(JFT) are a mainstay of the Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival and for good reason. JFT are heavy duty blues rockers. Justin (Medusa Stone) has been playing the Festival since he was seventeen years old and playing the Blues since he was still wet behind the ears. Tearing it up with their opener, ZZ Tops "La Grange", the Trio was also dynamite on the Otis Redding penned "Hard to Handle" and the Black Crowes "Thick-N-Thin. One of the highlights of the Trio's set was an original titled "Mr. Grim Reaper". This song showcased the slither of the slide and brought back memories of Savoy Brown and Foghat. Festival goers seemed to echo my opinion that the cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" and Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Leave My Girl Alone" were the highlights of this band's show.

Making sure to catch some of the extremely talented and gifted folks who grace the Charlie and Rose Lucas Jazz Stage, I reluctantly forego the remainder of the Justin Fox Trio to catch hometown boys The Will McBride Group(WMG). When these guys perform it is always like a breath of fresh, crisp and clean air for me. This feeling appeared to be contagious as the fine folks gathered around the stage and down at the water were thoroughly enjoying the WMG also. Imagine if you will - the soft cool breeze off the beautiful Cape Fear River draping the stage and glorious scrub oaks with their big branches entangling their way along the waterline; beached red and yellow canoes belly up on wooden sawhorses serving as their dry dock; the smooth sound of jazz rising up to grey skies with the sun slipping in every now and then for a peak. This was the backdrop as Will McBride shook it all up on the Jazz Stage. With a little rocker from Steely Dan, some saucy Carlos Santana, and standards like the incredibly good "Fly Me to the Moon", WMG fell right in to the blend. They mixed it up with Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A Train" and for added flavor they sprinkled it with Wes Montgomery's "4 on 6". They spiced it up a little more with a Will McBride original - the Latin inflected "Blue Mex". This song is a treat off of Will's CD entitled Trifecta. They topped it all off with a sprinkle from jazz virtouso Dave Brubek and an indie version of the theme from Mission Impossible ensued. Kudos to the guys from the Triangle for a job well done!

www.willmcbridegroup.com


Back up on the Blues Stage,The Slide Brothers were doing their thing. True masters of the steel guitar, their show was tremendous. Their gospel tinged and soulful blues were a major hit at the Festival. Band members Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent took us to Church and then sent us down the road with their Elmore James inspired songs. Citing Mr. Robert Randolph as one of their mentors, each of the Slides steel guitarists captured the crowd's undivided attention. Delivering gravelly vocals amid searing lyrics about getting "real bad hurt", the Slide Brothers followed up with a killer rendition of Stevie Ray's "The Sky is Crying". Proudly admitting to being faithful followers of the Pentecostal Church and self-proclaiming themselves as "Holy Rollers", the Slide Brothers put the fire and brimstone into their performance of the old time gospel "Try Jesus (He's Alright)". Asking the crowd, "Have You Tried Jesus?", the crowd religiously responded with "He's Alright". No need for Sunday morning preaching when you've had The Slide Brothers deliver you from evil with a scorching sermon on a sultry Saturday night.

Featured artist Buddy Guy hit the stage just after dark. An artist of this magnitude needs little introduction, but a few of his many accolades should be presented:

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2005
Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of fame in 2008
Six time Grammy winner
Ranked 30th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"
Winner of the 2003 National Medal of Arts
Winner of the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors
Winner of 23 W.C Handy Blues Awards
Hailed by his colleagues and peers as the "greatest living Blues guitarist"

Guy has played with scores of legendary guitarists and musicians that include: Otis Rush, Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Boy Williamson, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richard, Jack Bruce, Stephen Stills, Robert Randolph, John Mayer and Gary Clark,Jr.

As the darkness rolled in and the night was upon us, Mr. Buddy Guy and friends hit the stage and got down and dirty pretty quickly. No stranger to the F word, Guy speaks his mind freely both through his music and while he converses on stage. His onstage persona is almost chilling. He is a living breathing Blues Machine. He professses to the crowd that it is Gospel music that he now prefers and that if you were his guest, you would hear it playing at his home. He's as tough as nails and as hard as a rock, but reverent to God and to the traditional blues artists that he so admires. He speaks candidly about how white people didn't used to listen to the blues, that only through contemporary artists did the Blues begin their appeal to a broader population. His take is that the newer blues artists mimick and mock the "true" traditional blues artists of the day. As he warmed up to the crowd, he pulled his stool underneath him and grabbed his acoustic guitar and started to talk. The stories are almost as good as the songs. He described the timeline of the Blues "according to Buddy Guy". It all started with the acoustic guitar and a gospel song. It is no secret to those listening carefully that Buddy's friend and mentor, the late Muddy Waters, remains his King. Throughout the night he fills the audience's pleasure with his own work as well as gold from Muddy, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King, and more.

Leading off with the incomparable "Damn Right I Got the Blues", Guy put the audience in a trance with his rapid fire guitar licks and tricks. Playing guitar upside down, backwards, with his teeth, with his eyebrows, with a washcloth, beside himself, behind his back, between his legs, with his forehead, with his back side - it was all breathtaking, head shaking, and mind boggling. Exclaiming to the crowd that "the shit's gonna get so funky you can smell it" and "if y'all didn't want me to play the Blues then you shouldn't have called me", Guy tore into a Gatemouth Brown tear jerker called "Have You Ever Been Mistreated?". Then Guy came back strong with Ray Charles "What'd I Say?". One almost thought it couldn't get much better. But the night just kept exceeding all expectations with Buddy's signature songs like "Skin Deep" and "Slippin' Out Slippin' In". The audience was thrilled when Guy came down from the stage and strolled down the walkway from stage to soundboard - all the while ripping on his canary yellow guitar. Dressed in white slacks, a black and white polka dot button down shirt, and a white derby hat, Guy screamed class while he kicked some raunchy Blues ass. His cover of Cream's "Strange Brew/Sunshine of Your Love" medley was excellent and added shine to a night filled with highlights. After heating the crowd to a hard boil, Buddy Guy headed back to the stage strategically tossing out his guitar picks to fans. For those ambitious enough to scramble for them, it paid off big. I worked extra hard to get one, but didn't succeed to start. But the tide turned and a big, special Thank You goes out to Connie Johnson who scooped up a pick and presented it to me. That takes a lot of heart! You go, Connie.



That night sitting less than 20 feet from this legend, I thought of how fortunate we all were to watch Buddy work his magic. It will be forever etched in our memories. The man that made the long trip from a sharecropper's farm in Louisiana to the mean streets of Chicago surely left his mark on lovely little Pleasure Island as well.

Night One is a night for the history books. Stay tuned for a roundup of Day Two at the Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival


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