Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunbanks: "The Festival That's Not a Festival!"

by The Blues Boss

A few years back, the Sunbanks Music Festival used a “take off” of the famous Las Vegas sign in their logo, obviously tagging on to the “What happens in … stays in…” idea. Well, it’s very appropriate! These semiannual events (May and September) are decidedly not typical “festivals”. They are more like a big private party; many regulars always referred to as “Billy Stoop’s Private Party”. There is way too much fun going on!

Musically, the Sunbanks Festivals aren’t typical either. Not 100% locked into blues, blues, blues, Sunbanks throws in a smidgeon of other musical genres just to keep you guessing. But, it’s all good, toe-tappin’ music, enjoyed every year by the “regulars”. Yes, regulars! Your typical attendees at Sunbanks are there every time – up to say 90% return year after year. That’s why it has such a “private party” feel.

This year, the Stacy Jones Band kicked off the musical festivities, exposing the eastern Washington music lovers to some musical fare from west of the mountains. MC, promoter, performer Billy Stoops and his
gang grabbed the stage next. Billy Roy Danger and The Rectifiers, “swampa-billy” at it’s best… Filling in, the Pat Coast Band out of Spokane kept the audience grooving despite the weather, which was a tad brisk! After sundown, the wind blew a steady 30 mph and the mercury dropped down into the 30’s, and if you figured wind chill, we’re talking chilly! Hambone Wilson out of Bellingham had his hands full warming up the crowd, and Hambone did admirably.

Saturday’s line up started with a bunch of “has-beens” (I can say that, they are good friends of mine) putting themselves out there as Snake Oil-Blues Elixir. Guitar driven mayhem ensued, a high-octane start to the day. The C.D. Woodbury Band followed, showing the audience why they recently grabbed a couple “BB Awards” presented by Washington Blues Society. Next up, giving the audience a different musical path to stroll down was the Trevalyan Triangle, and it was a nice change of pace. Then, Sunbanks turned into “Ladies Day” for awhile. The rockin ‘n roll Neil Rush Band featuring Bruce Robertson and Kathi McDonald were next, and Kathi still brings it home every time. Not slowing down, up came the Strange Tones with the Volcano Vixens. The Vixens add a great “visual touch” to the Strangetones “crime-a-billy” rollicking’ good time music.

Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps - LiveStaying with the female theme the next act was Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps. Texas blues with a twang, and one of the best rhythm sections you’d ever want to hear. James is a mainstay on many blues cruises. Getting some testosterone back into the mix, Lloyd Jones closed Saturday, doing what Lloyd Jones does, and always with that Cheshire cat smile!

Live! At The Sierra Nevada Brewery Big Room
I’m sure that Sunday’s starting act was booked to ease the crowd into the day. Didn’t happen! The Rae Gordon Trio out of Portland. The lady with the big......Pipes! Keeping the “Oregon theme” going, Big Monti and his band took over driving the festival bus, at breakneck speot a Festivaled, down the musical road. Roy Rogers and The Delta Rhythm Kings followed Big Monti; Roy is a slide guitar master on the twin-necked guitar, and Roy Rogers never fails to impress.

Live in England
The festival ended with Hamilton Loomis. All year long I kept hearing about Hamilton “@#$%^&*” Loomis, and frankly I was getting a bit bored with the entire hubbub. Well, my boredom was misplaced. The kid (he’s younger than my son, so he’s still a kid in my book) is a phenomenal performer serving up rocking’ Texas flavored funk and soul tinged blues with an excellent young supporting cast, too. But, make no mistake, the show is Hamilton Loomis! There is an elusive “it factor” in music, and Hamilton Loomis has “it”! Don’t miss him if you have the chance. And, remember, what happens at Sunbanks stays at Sunbanks… unless it’s a great story that I can jawbone about. Or better yet, print it in the Bluesletter…then all bets are off.

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