The Texas blues community turned out for local, national, and international blues players at this all-star jam session.
28-Apr-2016: Dallas has always had a thriving blues community. Blind Lemon Jefferson began the trend, and it continued with Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and into the present. Some of the best musicians superbly represented their craft at The Tavern on Main Street, with over 15 artists playing for over five hours.
The North Texas All-Stars always provide great entertainment at The Tavern and often have special guests to add to already fantastic performances. Owner Jerry Harkins made sure this night would top them all.
The All-Stars (drummer Chuck “Popcorn” Louder, bassist Carl “General Falls” Bush, guitarist Dave Brashier, and keyboardist Jim Lancaster) set the tone for the night with two slow blues songs that showcased each member. The vibe intensified when original hosts, Dave Taylor and Jackie Don Loe, joined the band on stage.
Jackie Don sang an emotional rendition of “Life By The Drop” by Dallas’ favorite son, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. He continued with “Blues Doctor,” enhanced by a great backbeat by Popcorn.
The completely packed house roared in approval for the great music and kept it up as Harold “Superstar” Walker came onstage and delivered some jazzy blues which got fans dancing on the floor. Bobi B. joined to sing backup, and Jerry Clark came aboard with his guitar while Jim shined on keys.
Bobi shined on “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and Jerry delivered on a Jeff Beck instrumental. His fingering was fluid and effortless, as noted by the fan appreciation.
Beau MacDougal joined in for an exciting guitar jam and then sang a blues version of “She Drives Me Crazy.” Lou Hampton then treated the fans to some funky soul with “Soul Man,” “The Thrill Is Gone,” and “When A Man Loves A Woman.” The extended versions featured solos by all the artists on stage and vocals that did the original singers proud.
International artist Lance Lopez and his band then took over for mini-concert that was Texas blues and rock at its finest. They are one of the most cohesive bands around and play off each other well. A driving drum beat fueled their set.
They interacted with the crowd as well as each other in an entertaining way. The audience knows Lance and crew have given it their all on every song. From their original songs to covers of Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin, they have fun on stage, and it translates well.
Mr. Lopez brought up international blues star Eric Gales for a few songs that elicited a standing ovation. Eric, whom Lance calls the greatest guitar player on the planet today, puts every bit of his emotions into playing a right-handed guitar turned upside down. The two good friends jammed, had fun and shared their passion for the music.
This part alone would be a high-dollar ticket anywhere, but Jerry brought it all to his customers for free, just part of the reason why he and The Tavern have such a loyal following.
Buddy Whittington, the guitarist for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for 15 years, performed the next few songs to a raucous ovation from the crowd. His blues voice and precise guitar picking shined on “Cross Cut Saw” and “Why Is It So Hard To Say Goodbye.”
Up-and-coming Nick Snyder showed his chops on “Sugar Sweet” by the great Muddy Waters. His fan base is building, and they were happy with how he’s progressed and where he’s going in the foreseeable future.
Tommy Katona of Texas Flood, generally considered the very best Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute band, led a guitar trio with Nick and Jason Cloud, that featured soul, blues and rock. Local fan favorite Joey Love then came up and covered “I Shot The Sheriff” and paid tribute to Prince with “Purple Rain,” creating a fan frenzy.
It was now time for some smooth blues and Dave Taylor provided just that with “My Baby Caught A Train.” Jim’s keyboard solo added another component to the song that segued into an instrumental jam.
The All-Stars plus the two originals took over to finish the evening. Lou and Harold joined them to add some soul to the blues and rock. Everyone got the chance to show their artistry on their instruments. The dance floor was shoulder-to-shoulder for “Superstitious” and “Brickhouse.”
After five hours of great music by excellent musicians, it was time to shut it down. Even though it had been a long night, the audience was still pumped up, and their endorphins were going to keep them awake for hours.
Jerry and manager Randy put together a show that showcased some of the best blues artists in Dallas and did it at no expense to the public. What should have been an expensive night of music was free, which again showed a unique appreciation to their loyal customers.
Lance Lopez will be starting his next tour soon, and Eric Gales continues his current tour through October.
Joe Guzman was on hand to capture the event for National Blues Review.
North American All-Stars