“No black, no white, just blues,” is the tag line for the Ain’t Nothin But a Blues Party! Saturday night at the Italian Center ballroom in Akron.
The show features headliner singer/guitarist Travis “Moonchild” Haddix and “Akron’s Own Queen of the Blues” Marilyn Oliver and the Relatively Jammin’ Blues Band.
Haddix got the nickname “Moonchild” for his upbeat stage presence and has been recording and playing the blues for four decades with more than 20 CDs under his belt.
A native of Walnut, Miss., he became enthralled with the blues at the age of 8 after seeing B.B. King play live at WDIA in nearby Memphis, Tenn. Haddix moved to Cleveland in 1959, joined the D.L. Rocco Band and toured awhile with his good friend Little Johnny Taylor.
Haddix’s latest album, Love Coupon, makes for a good encapsulation of his style which is often imbued with humor as in the title track, a traditional 12-bar crawl with slurring horn charts, wherein our narrator purchases a book of love coupons that unsurprisingly don’t work.
“I gotta handful of love coupons the other day, said you can get a boatload of free lovin’ that’s what the coupons say,” Haddix sings in his weathered blues shout. “I put one in a lady’s hand, said I’m looking for some relief, she said get away from me old man before I call the police.”
Haddix certainly knows his way around an uptempo blues shuffle such as Good Ole Monday and the lighthearted Facebook-dating tale Take Me If You Want To. He delves into some funky grooves on Art to Gettin’ Even and Boogie Woogie Woman.
Haddix’s guitar work at times recalls two of his acknowledged heroes — B.B. King’s legendary vibrato and Little Milton’s melodic, clipped phrases.
For his Akron show, he will have a full band with a rhythm section and horns, so it should be an evening of classic, electric, urban blues.
Opener the Relatively Jammin’ Blues Band featuring Marilyn Oliver will perform songs associated with legendary blues ladies Denise Lasalle, Etta James and more.
Red Sun Rising hits road
Popular local hard-rock band Red Sun Rising is working its solid active rock radio-ready Into Forever released in 2013 by hitting the road with Michigan band Pop Evil on a tour that will take the band throughout the Midwest, Northeast and a little bit down South.
But before that, Red Sun will play a Halloween show at Musica on Friday. The band — singer/guitarist Mike Protich, guitarists Ryan Williams and Tyler Valendza and bassist Mark Matthews — generally packs its local shows.
The band’s melodic brand of heavy alt/rock makes it a likely candidate for national attention. It may not have the cross-generational appeal of some other successful rock bands that incorporate the sounds of the ’60s and ’70s (yes, the obligatory Black Keys reference goes here) and contemporary hard rock ain’t exactly ruling the Billboard pop charts or filling arenas.
(Quick. Name two hard/heavy rock bands under a decade old that can headline arenas.)
RSR knows all the tricks of the heavy alt/rock songwriting trade such as good riffs, catchy sing-along choruses, a strong versatile singer and fist-pumping grooves. There should be a space for RSR to carve out for itself on the national rock scene.
So I attended the fairly smooth opening night of Blue Jazz + featuring Josh Rzepka’s group last weekend.
Both shows sold out, and from my seat at the bar (What? All of the tables were full!), the early set was populated by an older, moneyed crowd grooving on the music between conversations.
Early on, the sound went through a few adjustments. It was difficult to hear over all the talking at the bar and the kick drum might as well have been a coffee can for the first few songs, but things smoothed out as the set continued and the joint does have some of the best live jazz sound systems around.
The second set had a hipper, younger crowd (i.e. more musicians) that seemed to be a little more into the band, but the secret is if you can catch a show that features a post-show jam, that’s jazz music fan nirvana, right there.
I saw saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio in the house and there were plenty of other talented young local musicians stretching out in front of an appreciative crowd.
Local guitarist Dan Wilson and his new organ trio will play the club on Halloween night (A Monster Mash Boogaloo, anyone?) which should add up to a pretty funky evening. Wilson recently scored a pretty sweet gig and in January will join another organ trio led by Joey DeFrancesco, who has played, toured and performed with Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Grover Washington Jr. and David Sanborn.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at www.ohio.com/blogs/sound-check, like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml and/or follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.