Last night, I had the pleasure of hearing both Charlie Hayes/Joel Fleming and Fred Dixon prepare for their upcoming Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival performances at an open mic at McMahon’s Pub in Monmouth.

Charlie and Joel were on fire, with Charlie playing both acoustic and electric Dobro slide guitar. It was amazing hearing the tone and range from Joel’s harmonica playing–certainly not the sound you hear from your garden variety blues harpist. His high-end solo on Shake Your Money Maker was simply amazing!

Fred was working through a potential set, trying out the best flow and fit of a number of way-old-school blues songs. It’s simply amazing the depth of material he has access to. He was telling me that his love of deep blues came from his childhood in Chicago (he moved up there at 12), where his “hillbilly” accent and poverty governed who he could and could not hang out with. There, with the poor kids on the streets of Chicago, he fell in love with the authenticity of the blues.

I’m getting psyched about the show–I can hear in my head the flow from one act to the next and I think it’ll be a day to remember!

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