Admission to this six-hour event in Julia Davis Park was just two cans of food to benefit the Boise Rescue Mission. The day was perfect-800 guests, blue sky, sun and shade, plenty of food and drinks and the perfect vibe in the breeze.
The music began with Short Sided, a band from Boise High. As the opening act, they rose to the occasion and set the pace. The second act was vocalist Nancy McIntosh and Next Exit. The highlight of their set had to be Gary Moore's "Still Got the Blues." Then Lori B and the Boys took the stage, and in the vernacular, this band was kicking with impressive guitar work from Nathan J. Moody. Lori B was at home on stage and did justice to Miss Franklin with "Chains" and "Respect." At the same time she was the ambassador for the Boise Blues Society, urging membership. Yours Truly followed, with a short acoustic set and it was a privilege to look out over the sea of spectators. I was followed by the Hoochie Coochie Men, with Ken Harris on keyboards and Mike Trail on guitar. They started with Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign," and then jumped into some beautiful groove material.
Then an especially tender moment came when Neighbor Dave took the stage. Four years ago, Dave crossed paths with death while performing on stage. This was his first major performance since then. Fans and friends gathered around the stage for his solo set of new songs.
The final act was Gorgeous George Stancell from Milwaukee, a dues-paying blues artist of 60-odd years, backed by the Hoochie Coochie Men. Amazingly, they hadn't rehearsed but you would never have known it. Phil Garonzik, a consummate musician on sax, sounded like he had been there before. George played guitar and sang his songs with a conviction that was new to the day, especially his "I'm a Bluesman," a bona-fide anthem. There is still a distinction between the real thing and an imitation-and I know the latter well. But no matter how you look at it, the blues is American music and on this day the artists were preachin' up a storm. I asked George what he thought about the day and he replied, "It was beautiful, man." 'Nuff said.