The list of influential and under-appreciated blues guitarists is long but I feel safe in saying that Peter Green’s name can be found near the top.
Which is why I am happy to see a Green tribute concert set for February 8 at the Quartet Note in Sunnyvale. The evening’s lineup features Dave Gonzales, Sam Varela, Scotty Smith, Doug Mancini, Noel Catura and Gun E. Sax.
The London-born Green was in the forefront of the British blues boom of the 1960s, taking Clapton’s role in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers when Slowhand left for Cream. Here is a guitarist who inspired B. B. King to say, "He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats."
Green departed Mayall to throw in with the formidable rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood to form Fleetwood Mac. Not that I – or just about anyone else of my generation – was aware of it when buying “Rumours” in ’77, but Fleetwood Mac cut a significant swath through the blues and rock world in its earliest incarnation, thanks in good part to Green’s lead work and songwriting.
The band’s first two albums – “Fleetwood Mac” and “Mr. Wonderful” (both 1968) – feature a robust mix of blues standards (“Hellhound On My Trail,” “Shake Your Moneymaker,” “Dust My Broom”) and originals (most notably Green’s “Looking for Somebody,” “Rolling Man” and “Lazy Poker Blues”). The band’s bluesy period culminated in the vigorous “Fleetwood Mac in Chicago” (1969), which found the Englishmen in a Windy City studio with the likes of Otis Spann, Buddy Guy, Walter "Shakey" Horton and Willie Dixon.
Green had already emerged as a prominent songwriter is in his own right, having penned "Black Magic Woman,” "Albatross,” "Oh Well" and “The Green Manalishi.” He left Fleetwood Mac in 1970 and has spent the ensuing decades wrestling with drug problems, psychological disorders and the vagaries of the music business. Next month’s show is a welcome and entirely fitting tribute to a blues guitar great.
The Black and White Jazz series continues Saturday at Andrews Hall in the Sonoma Community Center.
The performances promise to provide audiences a “journey through the Great American Songbook in celebration of that most American art form … jazz.” Each show features vocalists Connie Ducey, Janet Lynn and Dee Dee Pickard backed by the quartet of Tim Wat (piano), Erik Nelson (trumpet), Andy Dudnick (bass) and Jimmy C (drums).
Saturday’s performance finds the ensemble singing the best of Harold Arlen, Jimmy Van Heusen and Rodgers and Hart. The series concludes March 8 with an evening dedicated to Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, among others.
Winter is still very much upon us but a quick look at the calendar tells me it’s time to prepare for all those spring-summer bashes. One of the oldest is the Sacramento Music Festival which, in its previous incarnation as the Sacramento Dixieland Jubilee, boasted of being the largest Dixieland festival in the world.
The Memorial Day weekend blowout went to a multi-genre format a few years back, embracing jazz, blues, zydeco and more in addition to Dixieland. The event – which takes over downtown and Old Town Sacramento for three days – has announced its initial lineup. Bands set to perform include Au Brothers, Bob Draga Quartet/Festival All Stars, Bob Schulz Frisco Jazz Band, Bump City Reunion Band, Catfish and the Crawdaddies, Delta Wires, Dixie Company Jazz Band, Dr. Bach & the Jazz Practitioners, Fulton Street Jazz Band, Johnny “Guitar” Knox, Meschiya Lake and the Lil’ Big Horns, Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers, Mumbo Gumbo, Night Blooming Jazzmen, Pat Yankee, Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, Sacramento Blues Revue and Sister Swing.
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