Friday, July 9, 2010

Blues Trippin’ With Ian Siegal in the Pacific NW

By The Blues Boss

 Four years ago this month I had the opportunity to be a “pseudo tour manager” for Ian Siegal out of London. I was introduced to Ian’s music by an Internet buddy in England. Blown away by his vocals and songwriting, I contacted his label (at that time a one man operation) and threw my hat in the ring to help out n the Pacific Northwest. Shortly thereafter I was contacted by Ian’s U.S. booking agent and told that Ian had been booked for the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival in 2006.

Part of the offer I had made to Ian’s record company was the ability to put a great regional band behind him should Ian need one. Up until three weeks before the tour, word was “his band’s coming, his band’s coming”.

Suddenly, word out of London changed to “We need a back-up band!”

Fortunately, the Mark Riley Trio (Howard Hooper on bass and Marty Vadalabene on drums) was willing and available. Ian also came over without equipment, but with the resources of Rod Cook and Mark Riley, that problem was easily solved.

I picked up Ian at Sea-Tac, recognizing him immediately from his CD, and we drove straight to the Swiss to hook up with Rod Cook and Toast and get a “loaner” guitar. Staying for the music, it took barely one song for Ian to turn to me, smiled, and asked: “Can I have these guys?”

Do You Think I Can Hit It From Here“No, Ian,” I said. “These guys aren’t available on this short of notice, but the Mark Riley Trio would do just fine.” During the second set of Toast, Rod invited Ian up onstage, and they absolutely tore the place up for six or seven songs.

Two days later, Ian rehearsed with the Mark Riley Trio in the “boat shop” at Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation, where I work. I am very lucky that the family ownership of Bardahl gives me free reign to do this. After a short 75 minutes into the rehearsal, Ian turned to the guys and said: “Well, that’s enough of that, you guys sure know what you are doing”.

The “tour” consisted of six gigs in six days in Oregon and Washington. It started at the the Domino Room in Bend. While the Domino Room hosts music that ranges from rock and roll to hip-hop, I was pleased that the audience embraced Ian and the Mark Riley Trio. Right out of the box Ian and the trio clicked, convincing those in the audience who had Ian’s latest CD Meat and Potatoes that it was Ian’s actual band on that CD. Next up was two nights at the Highway 99 Blues Club, and one night at Jazzbones. By the time we hit Tacoma, the music was road-tested and ready for Ian Siegel’s big moment at the 2006 Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival on the First Tech Credit Union stage before 20,000 blues fans.

Ian was the talk of that day at the festival, and he finished the day doing a song with Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers on that night’s cruise. The tour culminated at the Red Wine and Blues Festival in Stevenson, Washington on the banks of the Columbia River.

Would I “tour manage” again? Well, Ian said he’d have me do that on any visit to the U.S., so I probably would.

Was Ian Siegal impressed with Pacific Northwest blues musicians? I’ll close this month’s Blues Trippin’ with a quote from Mr. Siegal.

“Boss,” he said in that London drawl of his. “Yes. Yes, Rod Cook is as good a guitarist as I’ve ever played with, and mate, I would not hesitate to have the Mark Riley Trio meet me anywhere in the United States to back me up. These guys know their stuff.”

Nostalgia recommendation: since this column featured the Mark Riley Trio so prominently, why don’t you dig out Mark’s Confessions of a Mad Man and give it another spin?

Until next month, do some blues trippin.’


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