The White Rock Blues Society

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Summertime Blues for this Society

Summertime blues for this society   Tom Zillich Surrey Now Friday, September 04, 2009 CREDIT: Ex-White Rocker John Lee Sanders returns for a gig Saturday night (Sept. 5) with Muddy Fraser at South Surrey's Rhumba Room, a show presented by White Rock Blues Society. These are the dog days of summer for White Rock Blues Society, which has stumbled a bit with its latest big gig. Saturday's double bill features John Lee Sanders and Muddy Fraser at the society's home-base bar, the Rhumba Room at Pacific Inn Hotel, on King George Highway in South Surrey, but tickets haven't exactly sold by the handful. "It is crucial for us to draw music fans to this one for the society to stay afloat," the society's Rod Dranfield told the Now in an email. "If we want to keep bringing fine blues talent to our neighbourhood, we need (to) rally the music lovers among us." Booking concerts has been a learning experience for members of the society since its inception in 2007, Dranfield said later, in an interview. Just 75 tickets were sold when Portland sextet Lloyd Jones Struggle was booked for a gig in June, while an Aug. 2 date featuring best-blues Juno Award winner Julian Fauth profited a couple hundred bucks for the society. "Normally, by now we'd have sold about 30 or 40 tickets, but we haven't," Dranfield said this week, a few days prior to the Sanders-Fraser set. "There's been so much going on this summer, and maybe when we booked this six months ago, we weren't thinking. Maybe it's too close to a long summer with a lot of free shows, and people might be a little burned out.... We're learning by experience that you have to have a model that works financially." However, Dranfield remains optimistic about the Sanders-Fraser gig: "Both of these guys are amazing musicians, so it should be a great show." For those not in the know, Sanders pulls his brand of jazz, blues and gospel music from roots in Louisiana. Over the years, he's played with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Dr. John and Chuck Berry. Another big name with whom he's gigged is Jimmy Page, when the Led Zep guitarist took the stage with old buddy Long John Baldrey (with Sanders in the band) at Vancouver's 86th Street Music Hall, in the late-'80s/early-'90s. "I'm not sure exactly when it was, but Jimmy was in town recording with David Coverdale (of Whitesnake fame)," Sanders told the Now. "When he got up there, it was a huge crush of people -- like one of the Beatles had shown up or something." Sanders, who now resides in Kelowna and is fresh from festival dates in Europe, lived in White Rock a couple years back. Saturday's concert will be his first here since recording his double live CD, Live at Rock Beach (the Johnston Road studio), in 2006, and will feature cuts from his latest disc, the Western Canada Music Award-nominated Bucket Full of Blues. For video and audio samples of his infectious music, click on the "media" link at johnleesanders.com. Looking ahead, the society brings touring bluesmen Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean to the Legion hall at Crescent Beach on Nov. 4, followed on Dec. 6 by its annual Yuletide Blues concert for the PACS food bank. Another November show, this one by The Twisters, is on hold due to the band's tour plans in Europe. SPOOKY BLUES WINS AT WEST BEACH Meanwhile, the finals for The White Rock Blues Talent Search were held Aug. 23 at West Beach Bar & Grill. "Over the three weeks, it was amazing to see how much up and coming talent we have out here," reports event organizer Jason Buie. First place went to The Spooky Blues Band, featuring Mike Fabro on guitar and vocals. In second was the very cool Mary's Gunns, with 16-year-old singer Jade Tjorhom (who did an amazing job on some Etta James songs, Buie notes). The Spooky Blues Band will be given their prize (recording time at Turtle Studios) on Saturday night at the John Lee Sanders/Muddy Fraser gig at the Rhumba Room. CULT SINGER GETS LOST IN ABBY Anyone know the way to Abbotsford? That's what Ian Astbury, lead singer of The Cult, was asking Friday night, when the Brit band had a gig at the Ag-Rec Building there. With opening band Living Things done for the night at around 9 p.m., fans who'd paid nearly $50 for a ticket were left waiting (some rather drunk and impatient) for an hour and half before The Cult hit the stage, at 10:30. Astbury, who was staying in Vancouver and had rented a car to drive to Abby, got lost on the way, concert promoter Rob Warwick reports. "He actually stopped for directions and someone sent him to the new arena there (in Abbotsford) instead of the Ag-Rec Building," Warwick, a White Rocker, told the Now. "I was on the phone with him for, like, half an hour, just telling him how to get to the venue. He doesn't take directions very well." It was the first time Warwick had worked with the band. "It was an experience -- we'll just leave it at that," he said. Once on stage, The Cult played its entire Love album and hits from Electric and Sonic Temple. On Oct. 10, Warwick looks forward to a less stressful night at the Ag-Rec Building when radio station Country 107's inaugural Barn Dance and BBQ finds Aaron Pritchette, Gord Bamford, Adam Gregory and One More Girl in the house. The night before, Warwick is also looking to fill seats at the Cascades Casino's Summit Theatre in Langley when "uncensored hypnotist" Asad hits the stage there. tzillich@thenownewspaper.com © Surrey Now 2009