Have you ever tried to purchase a music video featuring a Blues artist? Last night, I googled and amazoned my way through a host of sites that claimed to sell Blues music videos. I couldn’t find a single one. I found Blues Cd’s and Rock music videos, but no DVDs headlining Blues artists. Maybe they are out there, but if they are, they are hard to find.
Guess what? EC Scott through her production company ECS Productions is going to change all that. Last night, Sunday, February 22, 2009, ECS Productions and the Mid-peninsula Media Center hosted a blockbuster Video Screening Party to honor the debut of three Blues videos. The Media Center studio was jammed with Bay Area and International Blues greats gathered to honor this great moment in Blues History. EC Scott wants to shake off any notion that the Blues is not a current force in American music. EC Scott wants the world to know that the Blues is constantly evolving and changing and modernizing! But if not everyone can make it to clubs, how will they ever see and hear the new face of the Blues? By watching music videos that are distributed via the web/TV/radio convergence!. Ms. Scott pioneered the use of blues music clips in her groundbreaking Cable Access Show produced here at the Media Center, the Jook Joint, which is shown on hundreds of Cable Access stations acrossthe nation. Ms. Scott has taken the concept one step further by producing music videos through her production company. She rolled out three videos to the audience at the Media Center in what turned out to be not only a “movie” premiere, but also a dinner party, jam session and overall Blues love fest. If we could have harnessed the energy in the studio last night, we could have powered the mid-peninsula for a year.
The evening began with a red carpet reception and press interviews. EC Scott will be sharing these interviews in upcoming segments of the Jook Joint. We enjoyed a catered dinner before Blues DJ Noel Hayes of KPOO radio, the Master of Ceremonies convened the Blues meeting for us. Gospeldiva Freda Mitchell kicked things off with her rousing “Go Run and Tell.” She sings as if you are the only person in the room. That’s how personal her sound is. And then some light speech-making by ECS Productions Vice President Greg Mitchell and Ms. Scott herself. Among those credited for making these music videos possible were MC Production manager Karen Adams and long time MC volunteers Dan Beaulieu and Steve Hall.
Two of the three videos screened were pretty straight ahead productions of blues artists performing their signature songs. Contemporary blues soloist Robin Rogers performance of her great single “Moan” was a great vehicle for Ms. Rogers steamy performance. A band video featuring the Jackie Payne/Steve Edmonson band was up next with “Overnight Sensation.” Mr. Payne’s incredible singing story-telling was just up-out-your-chair entertainment at its best and Mr. Edmonson’s Blues guitar riveting. The headliner video of the evening was Ronnie Baker Brooks’ LOVE AGAIN. Juxtaposing clips of Ronnie’s singing in a club after hours with clips of the sultry story behind his journey back from a broken heart, the LOVE AGAIN video succeeds both in telling a great story visually and in showcasing the amazing talent of this Chicago-based blues-man.
The three videos were received with thunderous applause, but the evening>did not end there. What followed was music offered by EC Scott’s band SMOKE, including drummer Don Thomas, guitarist Bill Ireton and bassist Jay “Geech” Goudeau. Amazing is all I can say about these guys. Audio was provided by sound engineer Kirk Williams who uses the largestBose speakers I have ever seen and no monitors! Amazing sound. Once Smoke got the place warmed up it was a Who’s Who of Blues just parading up to perform for the enthusiastic crowd.
In no particular order, members of the jazz community who performed included:
Jackie Payne and Steve Edmonson. Jackie wore red, Steve lavender and the sound was Bright Blues!
Sonny Rhodes came down from Reno and gave us a set of his particular brand of Texas blues.
Craig Horton stopped in from Oakland and gave us his specialty blend of Blues with an R&B, jazz and rock and roll twist.
Keyboard legend Bobby Alexis who played with Albert Collins and his Icebreakers for almost thirty years sat down and practically ripped the keys off their stand.
West coast blues queen, our own San Francisco based Barbara Gainer also performed.
And the Media Center’s own volunteer Eric Baker even took a turn at the keyboards as well.
I heard someone say the Legget Brothers were in the house? Did anyone see them?
Ronnie Baker Brooks took center stage to play several of his original songs that have his unique Chicago twist of funk, soul and blues all rolled. He is truly a crossover artist, able to attract a broader audience and young recruits by playing the traditional Blues in a new way. And anybody who has ever seen him play the guitar with his tongue, well, it’s worth a second look.
And then Ms. Scott herself took the stage and delighted us with her combination of 90s funk and traditional gospel and blues. The crowd was on its feet more than once last night as the Media Center blues jam lasted well beyond closing night.
Also of note in the house were several significant figures in the local blues scene:
Velma Landers, owner and operator of San Francisco blues destination club Velma’s, attended and spoke briefly. She has started a Music Mentoring Program to enlist local blues artists to teach their craft to the younger generation. Kids can no longer sneak into clubs like they did in the old days and hear the greats — which is how so many of today’s artists got their start — hearing the greats of previous generations play in clubs. Ms. Landers is changing the Blues world by pairing young people with artists. She says each new success makes her more daring. Truly a visionary lady.
Another visionary, Steven Suen and his wife Tina Zhou were in the house. Without his intervention, San Francisco might well have lost a premier Blues night club. Mr. Suen spoke briefly as well. He has owned and operated Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco for three years. Prior to his acquisition of the club, a series of management changes had pretty much left the club dying on the vine. Steven, a native of Hong Kong and lover of the Blues, painstakingly rebuilt the club with the encouragement and support of his wife. Now the club is thriving once again.
Also spotted in the room was Vince Caminiti who presides over the most touted blues jam over at the Little fox.
There are a dozen people I am not paying the proper homage to. There were dozens of beautifully clad ladies as well as silk-suited and finely-“haberdashed” gentlemen. Many of the cast members of the LOVE AGAIN video were there. I wished I could have talked to them all. It was a great night for the Media Center, a great night for Ms. Scott and her family of friends and colleagues, but above all it was a great night for the Blues.