Triple Played: Unexpected treat at Blues Jam
When I wrote about Blues Jam at the Mesa Theater and Club in my last column, I said that the Jam on Dec. 18 was going to be special and you should go.
However, I am sure that all of those in attendance, including myself, had no idea how special it was going to be.
Earlier that evening, at about closing time at Triple Play Records, three young men and a young woman came into the store, purchased some items and complimented the store and our beautiful downtown.
It was obvious they were not from here, so I mentioned that if they were looking for some entertainment later in the evening they should consider Blues Jam. Then I told them a little about the program. When they said that they would definitely be there, I didn’t think anything of it. A lot of folks say they will come but don’t show up.
Around 9 p.m., as my son Matthew and I were watching the house band, I noticed the four folks who had been in the store as they came in and sat down in front of us.
I went to the bar with a friend, and, when I returned, the young lady from the group was on stage playing a trumpet. She definitely knew the blues scales because she fit right in. As I watched her play and wondered what was up, Andy Pittman, the owner of Mesa Theater came up to me and asked if I knew who those kids were.
I said that they had been in the store, but I didn’t know them. Andy told me that they were the drummer, guitarist, trumpeter and road manager from Michael Bolton’s band and were playing the next night at Avalon Theatre.
Joining Cameron H Handel on trumpet, Drew McKeon on drums and Ryan Parrino on Lonesome Larry’s borrowed and retuned guitar were locals Pete Langford on bass, Rob Labig on the second drum kit and after the first song, Bobby Walker on guitar.
The group played a pair of excellent blues tunes and then a stunning extended version of George Gershwin’s classic “Summertime” with Cameron taking lead on the trumpet. It drew the biggest response from the good-sized crowd.
There was dancing and great music until almost 11 p.m. After the show, we went to thank the folks from Bolton’s band, and they thanked me for telling them about the Blues Jam. Ryan said that they really enjoyed the opportunity to “stretch out” and play something other than sound checks and Bolton songs.
Cameron added that they don’t get that kind of opportunity in New York because all of the clubs are usually booked and none of them have the laid-back atmosphere that the Mesa Theater provides.
They also said they thought they would come in and show everybody else how it was done. However, they were very impressed with the local talent saying that everybody they saw were quality musicians and specifically mentioning vocalist Miss Emily and guitarist Lila Purpose.
It is just not a good idea to skip a Blues Jam. You might miss something special.