Written by James Killen
Aug 12, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ImageBarbara and I made a run out to Shakespeare’s Pub, Monday night to catch a performance of blue’s vocalist, Candye Kane at the suggestion of Nancy from the KPFT Sunday morning “Blues on the Move” show. Nancy had told me that Candye had been battling pancreatic cancer, but I did not realize the gravity of her condition until I arrived at the venue only to hear that she was at an ER in Austin dealing with a flare up of pancreatitis. In most venues where a performer was not able to make a gig you would expect to see a sign in the window saying “Sorry, no band tonight”, but this was a blues show.

Over the years, there have been many instances where musicians have gathered together to give “a little help” to their friends and no genre seems more generous than the blues musicians. Nancy came into the club and informed us that Candye was laid up in Austin and Jonn Richardson and Rich DelGrosso were going to stand in. Moments later Rich introduced himself as Candye Kane and explained the current situation to the 40 or so folks that had come out on a Monday night to check out the show.

Candye’s regular rhythm section, Keenan Shaw on bass and Kurt Walker on drums were in the house for the show, but guitarist, Laura Chavez, had stayed in Austin for morale support. During the show, Rich called on bar patrons to chip in to the tip jar to get Candye’s band some gas money to get on down the road. That is the spirit of giving that blues folk exemplify.

The show itself was no disappointment as Jonn “El Toro” Richardson kicked it off with a blazing guitar number. Jonn’s oft time collaborator, Rich DelGrosso, is a unique individual in that he plays the blues on a mandolin (his website is www.mandolinblues.com ). He is the first individual that I have ever seen take a bottleneck slide to the eight string instrument.

The band covered blues standards like “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and “Walking Blues” as well as some originals like “Hard to Live With” and “Baby Do Wrong” with its John Lee Hooker/ZZ Top beat. These two guys flat tore the stage up. Bass player, Keenan Shaw warned the audience not to walk barefoot on the stage as Jonn was breaking and replacing strings left and right and leaving the culls where they fell. Rich DelGrosso, in addition to squeezing some unbelievable blues from the mandolin, had a deep soulful voice that put the songs right in your chest.

ImageThe second set started off with “She’s Sweet” featuring Rich, while Jonn restrung his guitar for the next onslaught. The band ventured on, but had realized that Annika Chambers was in the house. She is an up and coming young local blues vocalist currently scheduled to open up the October 17th Discovery Green show for Shemekia Copeland.

A few songs into the set and after a respectable amount of begging, she joined Rich and Jonn on stage for “Love Me Like a Man” and “Sugardaddy”. I had met her during the break and thought that she seemed shy. Let me tell you, she gets over that on stage. What a wonderful contribution to the show. After Annika left the stage, Barbara and I felt our carriage turning into a pumpkin, so we headed off with Rich, Jonn, Keenan and Kurt reminding me of the SubDudes while plowing into “Summertime is Here”.

I have to mention, one more time, the effort these folks put in to the evening’s music in order to support one of their own. The tip jar seemed to have been generously fed by the venue’s blues aficionados. It seemed that everyone was keeping the health and well-being of the indomitable Ms. Kane in their thoughts and prayers.

Barbara and I used to make it out to blues shows more often than we do these days and this evening made us wonder why we had drifted away. We’ve made a resolution now to get more greens in our diet and more blues in our entertainment schedule. Ya’ll have fun. We do.