Monday, August 8, 2016

Tommy Bolin Music Festival - Aug 6, 2016

Sioux City, Iowa
By Phillip Smith; Aug. 8, 2016

One couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to hold the annual Tommy Bolin Music Festival in Sioux City, Iowa.  It was such a wonderful experience.  This year was special in that it was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Bolin's second solo album, Private Eyes.  And a heartfelt celebration it was, full of positive energy and musical fellowship.

Somethings can't be helped, so I didn't make it in time to catch Perfect Strangers from Finland, who kicked the festival off at 2:00pm.  I heard nothing but admirable comments about these guys who traveled the farthest to play by a long-shot.   I did however make it in time to catch a really nice set from guitarist Dean Christopher and drummer Bobby Berge.  Berge played with Bolin in Zephyr and then again in Energy.

The Hector Anchondo Band took the stage and treated us to a dashing performance of sizzling blues.  Anchondo's well of talent runs very deep.  His voice reminded me very much of the late great Roy Orbison while singing "Shake Me Shake Me".  I was glad to hear "Candy Shop".  Anchondo plays this one with some bodacious slide.  Santana's "Black Magic Woman" made for a perfect finale, with an amazing display of surf guitar guided by a stellar drum performance.  This one was fun indeed.

The Craig Erickson Band gave up a riveting performance as well.  Erickson, started with with one my favorite tracks from his album Sky Train Galaxy, "Mojo in Memphis" and then got its psychedelic groove on with "Cosmic Farm".  The groove keep going strong all the way to the end with  "The Comeback" , and Erickson's tribute to Bolin, "Gettin' Tighter / Ode to T".  

Following Craig Erickson, was the five-piece band, Russell Bizzett and the East/West Band,  who dished out a rollicking set of blues-rock favorites.  It's always a pleasure to hear Jr. Walker's "Shotgun" and Buddy Guy's "Messing With the Kid".  They rocked the house on this one.   It was also great to hear Etta James' "The Blues is My Business" as well as Freddy King's "Goin' Down".  

The largest ensemble of the night, the Tommy Bolin Tribute Band, featured a revolving door of musicians consisting of Johnnie Bolin (Black Oak Arkansas), Craig Erickson, Bobby Berge, Ryan Vicker, Kenny Passarelli (Barn Storm), Sam Irish, and more.  This special gathering of musicians performed live, the entire Private Eyes album.   From the beginning note of "Busting Out for Rosey" , it was magical.   Black Oak Arkansas's Jim Dandy and Samantha Barnes Seauphine made a surprise appearance, making for a plumb magnificent performance of "Shake the Devil".  With bassist Kenny Passarelli in the house, it would have been a sin not to play "Rocky Mountain Way", which he co-wrote.

I was totally enamored by a tight rock fusion trio, called JRZ System. Their latest album Teazer is a Tommy Bolin tribute, and features all songs by Bolin.  They played a monster instrumental set which included an encore featuring Craig Erickson.  I did not let the night pass by without stopping by their merchandise table to purchase a couple of CDs.   My only regret, is that I only bought two, and not three.

The evening was not going to end without a roof-raisin' set from one of my all-time favorite bands, Black Oak Arkansas.  Grinning from ear to ear, I was happier than a bug in a rug to see this band play live again.  It was so good to hear "Lord Have Mercy on My Soul", "Hot and Nasty", "Uncle Elijah", and "Hot Rod".  BOA was in rare form.  They were smokin'.  For the finale, they treated us to their Bolin cover, "Post Toastie".  It was splendid indeed.


Dean Christopher

Dean Christopher

Bobby Berge

Hector Anchondo

Hector Anchondo Band
Justin Shelton

Hector Anchondo Band

Craig Erickson Band
Rob Haskell, Craig Erickson, John Hall

Craig Erickson

Jesse Christen

Craig Erickson Band
Rob Haskell

Russell Bizzett and the East/West Band
Dennis Lee Kelley & Phil Kelley

Russell Bizzett
and the East/West Band

Russell Bizzett
and the East/West Band

Dennis Lee Kelley

Russell Bizzett
and the East/West Band

Glenn Reitsma

Russell Bizzett
and the East/West Band

Emily Martin

Russell Bizzett and the East/West Band

Russell Bizzett and the East/West Band

Tommy Bolin Tribute Band
Jesse Christen, David Napier, Craig Erickson

Tommy Bolin Tribute Band
Craig Erickson / Ryan Baker

Tommy Bolin Tribute Band
w/ 
Jim Dandy 
Tommy Bolin Tribute Band
Johnnie Bolin

JRZ System
Troy Johnson

JRZ System
Mark Zavon

JRZ System w/ Craig Erickson

Black Oak Arkansas
Samantha Barnes Seauphine
 & Jim Dandy

Black Oak Arkansas
Rick Reynolds

Black Oak Arkansas
George Hughen

Arthur Pearson

Black Oak Arkansas

Black Oak Arkansas
Johnnie Bolin

Black Oak Arkansas
George Hughen

Black Oak Arkansas
Rick Reynolds

Black Oak Arkansas
Arthur Pearson

Black Oak Arkansas
Jim Dandy