The White Rock Blues Society


White Rock Sun Newspaper

Off The Record

April 27, 2012

Rodney Dranfield Director WRBS

Rodney Dranfield travels to Memphis each year for the International Blues Challenge. The White Rock Blues Society for the past number of years has ensured our area is represented. This past year David "Boxcar" Gates flew our blues flag proud and high.

In 2011 Mud Dog competed on behalf of the White Rock Blues Society. It was at the 2011 blues gathering Rod came across the next act the society will be presenting in concert at the Rhumba Room at the Pacific Inn.
Here's the story; 

 Dave thanks for your interest with this up coming May 5th show. We are excited about hosting this wonderful blues talent. Michael was sponsored by the Montreal Blues Society for the 2011 International Blues Challenge which took place in Memphis from February 1st to 5th. Because he was sponsored by a Canadian society, my old home town, I made it a point to go see him play at Club 152 3rd floor. This club is across the street from the B.B. King's Club and next to King's Palace. I heard that back in the thirties the upper floor of King's Palace was a photo studio and I was told it was there that the only picture ever taken of Robert Johnson, the iconic blues man who according to legend gave his soul to the devil to play never before heard guitar. With all this history and over 150 blues acts playing the same night on a three block strip of the famed Beale street it was every blues fan's dream.

He was scheduled to play at 8:05 Wednesday evening. Mud Dog, our sponsored duo act was playing at Wet Willies just down the street at 7:30 so by the time I got there the place was full but still clear view of the stage. Artists play a 25 minute set during the competition and I caught his last 10 minutes. I was invited to see the David Rotundo Band playing at 8:30 down the street at the Hard Rock Cafe so knowing I was already late for that I did not stick around to talk to Michael at the time but got his contact information the next day from Brian Slack the President of the Montreal Society and called him.

I say all this to give you an idea what it's like at one of these International Blues Challenge events. You have to plan your night using the detailed program book and watch the clock as you execute your planned schedule of artists to see. Many choose to find one location, get there early, usually for dinner and stay and watch ten acts come to the stage. The venues are offering either all solo/duo acts or bands. As you would expect the band venues are larger, bigger stage and more seats, two of them are theaters.

I told him about us and how we like to put on shows for artists coming through town and that he should let us know when he's planning a west coast tour. He called last October and we set a date that matched his schedule. Usually under these circumstances we would do a mid week show because more often the prime bookings, such as festivals and soft seater venues are on weekends but Michael gave us the option for a Saturday night which we took. This will help with attendance numbers. I have his 2007 released Double CD which has one CD with him playing solo and one with his band.

My appreciation for the blues ranges from the country/delta style of the one man wizard playing and singing it all to the Chicago ensembles letting it rip with the amplifiers wailing. Michael can do it all and with a distinctive voice an style. This is going to be quite a treat. We have invited David "Boxcar" Gates to join us and open things up. This will be a great opportunity for David to meet Michael a like minded spirit. I'm looking forward to this special event and I trust that blues fans in out neck of the woods coming and see for themselves.

Check out the reviews and you will see I'm not alone in my praise for this man's talent and dedication to the music I love.

*Tomorrow - Michael Jerome Browne himself takes time out from his Cross Canada tour to answer a few questions prior to arriving on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.