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Blue Pepper’s international folk fusion flavor at J Michael’s Union Avenue Pub

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PUEBLO, Colo.—Blue Pepper spiced up J Michael’s Union Avenue Pub, on May 3. They played a two hour set, downstairs dubbed “The Cavern Club”.

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Tom Simms is the vocalist and guitarist, Jan Davis is the bassist and vocalist, Jim Schaffer is the mandolinist, fiddler and vocalist and Kai Furuto is the banjoist, percussionist, guitarist and vocalist of Blue Pepper. Simms also plays the harmonica.

Simms introduced Blue Pepper’s name to the audience, before they began the concert with “To The River”. As he sang the chorus, Schaffer and Davis assisted him with backup vocals. Shortly after—he blew into a harmonica and strummed his guitar. He sang afterwards and continued to play both instruments simultaneously, to bring an end to the song.

“Gandy Dancer” brought an end to the first half of Blue Pepper’s concert. Simms mentioned he had written the song for a John Henry musical for some of Schaffer’s students. He went onto say what had happened to Henry many years ago continues to happen today. He supported his statement by saying how machines were taking away America’s jobs.

Irving Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby”, The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, “Early”, “Della May”, “The Day In The Life Of A Fool”, Sansévérino “Mal ô Mains”, “Beautiful Day”, Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose”, “Estar Mejor”, Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry”, “Nowhere To Run”, Ray Charles’ “Ruby”, a two song medley of Glen Miller’s “In The Mood” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, La Pura Sabrosura’s “Juana la Cubana” and “Saturated Fat” were part of Blue Pepper’s first set.

After beginning Blue Pepper’s second recital with Toto Cutugno’s “L’Italiano Vero”—Simms mentioned they would playing at Bluegrass At The Fair, at the end of the month. As he did so—Schaffer exchanged his mandolin for hi fiddle and Furuto traded his percussion for his banjo.

Simms mentioned Blue Pepper always ended their concerts with a Cajun tune and covered Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Down at the Twist and Shout”. While they performed, he noticed people dancing and urged his band mates to extend the final instrumental.

New Grass Revival’s “You Plant Your Fields”, “Twisted”, Mark Knopfler’s “Devil Baby”, The Kingston Trio’s “Fast Freight”, Juan Luis Guerra’s “Vale La Pena”, John Hiatt and Fred Koller’s “Angel Eyes”, Sam Bush’s “Same Ol’ River”, “I Still Smile”, “You Don’t Knock”, “Peace Like A River” and “Hobo’s Blues” were also part of Blue Pepper’s second set.

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