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The Orange County Blues Society: “Bountiful Blues Jam”

The Orange County Blues Society: “Bountiful Blues Jam”
The Orange County Blues Society: “Bountiful Blues Jam”
All Images Courtesy of Mary Sparks

The Orange County Blues Society held a special “Bountiful Blues Jam” session to “share the Blues of Human Kindness with American speaker designer and manufacturer Bill Jenkins on March 30, 2014 at the Main St Restaurant in Yorba Linda, California from 2:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Those attending were asked to donate $3.00 or “bring a housewarming gift as Jenkins lost everything “in the Altadena Fire this year.”

The Orange County Blues Society
Courtesy of The Orange County Blues Society

The event was also part of another event celebrating the birthdays of “super server” Lissa Domanic and Ron May as well. As your rockin’ writer would soon discover, the uncommon early morning rain had not deterred the celebrants. In fact, by the time yours truly met his sexy sidekick Mary Sparks at the venue it had turned out to be a great day to get over the blues by listening to the blues.

This would be yet another noteworthy event thanks to the Orange County Blues Society. For those still not in the loop, the Orange County Blues Society was created by Orange County-based bluesman harpist/vocalist Jeff “Papa J” Hudson. It was founded in order to give blues music and Orange County-based blues acts their presence . . . and they were certainly present this day.

As your rather reclusive writer took his seat with his femme fatale photog, Papa J and friends were taking the stage. They opened with their version of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” once made famous by B.B. King. But, as regular readers know, don’t forget that yours truly rarely ventures to venues such as this but when he does he prefers to enjoy himself. So don’t expect an in-depth analysis or a perfect playlist. It’s all about the overall experience and not a detailed documentation. Just be happy to hear highlights, mmmkay?

Happenin’ highlights, however, included Papa J’s take on Slim Harpo’s “King Bee” and his male take on George Gershwin’s 1935 Porgy and Bess piece “Summertime” made famous by Janis Joplin complete with his usual educational intro. As new musicians were called to the stage it became quickly apparent that the audience was filled with both old and new faces. It was a mention-worthy mix of guys in hats and gals in flats, those with facial hair and exposed underwear. (Guess you had to be there.)

It may seem repetitive to my hardcore regulars but one simply cannot help but find it impressive to see random groupings of musicians—from all walks of life and backgrounds--almost immediately musically merge together in a generally cohesive and entertaining unit. The veterans of these jams are especially able to generally roll with the punches on occasion and pull it together. It’s fun to see them play the musical version of “Follow The Leader” and crank out tunes with little to no group preparation.

The event’s participating performers also included: Mike N. (drums), Andrew Garcia (guitar), John P. (bass), Felix (harp), Andrew (drums), Gene (bass), Mr. Blues (harp), Bill H. (guitar), Mike Dotson (guitar), Nick (drums), Paul F. (bass), Bruce (guitar and drums), Ron (keys), Joe (guitar and bass), Richard (guitar), Greg (drums), Drew (guitar), Ray Hart (harp and vocals), Arnold Cruz (guitar), Steve Finch (guitar), John Iozzi (guitar), Wayne Beeman (guitar and vocals), James H. (harp and vocals), Claudio Ortiz (drums), Scott (bass), Craig (guitar), Arnold Cruz (guitar), Juaquine (drums), Arron McClard (sax), Mike Bashir (guitar), Paul C. (guitar), Jude K. (drums), J. Hawk (guitar), Bob Fergenbaum (sax)and Bruce (drums).

Random groupings of musicians pumped out noteworthy covers of Bobby Troup’s rhythm and blues standard “Route 66”, the Junior Wells classic “Messin’ with the Kid”, a bluesy adaptation of Dan Baird’s “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and even some Paul Garfield material as well. As Papa J opined: “There’s so much blues talent in Orange County people don’t understand.”

Papa J and pals even paused to praise Lissa Domanic on her special day singing “Happy Birthday” to her while she was working hard waiting tables. Other memorable musical moments included Romeo Maxx dedicating “Have You Ever Loved A Woman You’re Never Gonna Get” to Domanic before Carole Costa tore into her rendition of Don Covay’s “Chain Of Fools” made famous by Aretha Franklin. Papa J also included one of your rascally writer’s favorites “Laundromat”.

The closing set included a tried and true take of the late John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man” and a bluesy, rousing rendition of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” which brought the dance floor to life. The song remains the same as they say but each individual offering is unique.

How often must it be said? The Orange County Blues Society Blues Jam: spontaneous, cool blues, strong drinks, hot food and servers to match. What else do you need?

My name is Phoenix and . . . that's the bottom line.

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