Tuesday, 28 May 2024

CyberSoulMan: Concert with Conversation

T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.



I’ve always found it a drag to hear an artist whose recorded output sounds better than a live performance. I’ve seen some pretty major artists whose live shows left a lot to be desired. This goes back to the early concert going days of my youth when the critical standard of measure that we used was, “Yeah, but did she or he sound like the record?”

The record of course, was what spurred us to the concert in the first place.

Since I’ve been in radio, the opportunity to preview many CDs has come my way. I would venture to vent forth that for every excellent one that comes my way, there is an equally bad one not to far behind. The vast majority of CDs fall in the middle of the two extremes.

Probably about six weeks ago, I received a CD introduction to the music of Wendy Dewitt. In all honesty, my first impression placed the CD in the middle category. Now, don’t get it twisted. The woman can play. That much is obvious from the first listen.

But, my CyberSoulfolks, The Wendy Dewitt live experience is all together a different matter.

Many of you are aware of the big little venue in Upper Lake known as the Blue Wing Café & Saloon and Tallman Hotel. I must confess that my knowledge of the largeness and scope of Bernie and Lynn Butcher’s entrepreneurial ventures had been limited to attending the Blue Monday sessions at the Blue Wing on Monday nights and the Blue Wing Blues Festival which occurs every August at the Tallman.

I was aware of the continuing Concerts with Conversations series but had never attended one. Since Ms. Dewitt’s forte is Boogie Woogie and Blues, I was only to glad to check it out.

The lobby of the finely appointed Tallman Hotel was buzzing with conversation, hors d'oeuvres, fine wine and sparkling cider. My date and I actually walked right into Wendy Dewitt’s path as we approached the front desk to obtain our tickets. She was stunningly taller than I anticipated from the pictures I’d seen.

The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, definitely a people’s vibe. The small plate fare was great as were the beverages. It was kind of like a reception for the artist that lasted about an hour. We then adjourned next door to the meeting room for Wendy’s performance. There was appointed rich desserts, coffee, teas and a finely tuned console piano.

After a short pause, Bernie Butcher introduced Wendy Dewitt who explained her musical history, forte and muse. Drawn to anything musical as a child, she really started perusing the blues and boogie woogie when a friend gifted her with a great blues and boogie vinyl collection. This led to intense study of the styles of the great masters of Blues and Boogie piano players such as Chicago Blues great Otis Spann, Memphis Slim,

Big Maceo, Joe Duskin, Meade Lux Lewis, Little Brother Montgomery, Pete Johnson and others.

Ms. Dewitt led a spirited discussion on the differences between Chicago Blues, Boogie Woogie as well as their similarity to Texas Swing. She entertained stimulating questions from the audience which, incidentally contained generations ranging from a young aspiring pianist to some, I would guess octogenarians.

I found Wendy Dewitt’s playing to be exemplary. She displayed great equal strength and dexterity in both hands. Her choice of notes complimented her rhythmic sense. Put simply she swung and flowed easily from forte to pianissimo. Crucially, her sense of comedic timing had us in stitches. That especially is what separates the live from the recorded in Dewitt’s musical persona. She really swung those bluesy love ballads.

I believe she played and entertained for more than 90 minutes. She received a very sincere standing ovation. She then was whisked to the Blue Wing for a late dinner and the conversations extended for another hour or so for an enchanted party of friends and fans.

To sum it up, catch this great artist when you can. And check out what the Butchers are doing on Main Street in Upper Lake. They are bringing world class culture to the county of Lake. Oh and if you can, take a tour of the digs at the Tallman Hotel. You have to see it to believe it.

Keep prayin’, Keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts!


Upcoming cool events:

MC Hammer (w/ Lake County’s Andre Williams), May 2, Club 88 at Cache Creek Casino, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks, telephone 888-77-CACHE.

The Spinners in concert at Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino, 1545 E. Highway 20, Nice, telephone 800-809-3636.

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at www.teewatts.biz.

Upcoming Calendar

05.28.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
05.29.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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06.01.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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06.04.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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06.05.2024 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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06.08.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.11.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
Flag Day
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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