Brindle's Blues Monday

If you're counting up local live music venues still walking steadily in the century's twilight, you'd have to include a two-step blues swing from Sunday afternoons at the West Strand Grill in Kingston and the second leg of the move at Woodstock's Joyous Lake on Monday nights.

Anchored by such solid performers as guitarist Chris Zaloom, drummer Nick Parker and a rotation of fine bassists which has included Michael Esposito, Junior Ellis, Ted Orr and Alan Murphy, the opening sets feature the dynamic vocalizations of Gizmo Fullin and that pixie guitarslinger, returned to the fold, Beki Brindle.

Absent from Woodstock in recent years, Brindle returned from her native Indiana last July with the feeling that the level of musical talent in this town had spoiled her. There's too many places out there where the local musicians are just not up to par. (Actual quote redacted). Although she has played with luminaries from Rick Danko to Jerry Lee Lewis to James "Yank" Rachell, Brindle notes how hard it is to find the sheer concentration of high level talent you find in these old hills.

If you've seen or heard Beki play (regionally with Tom Pacheco's Hellhounds, Windopane, Badkitty, or on her own), you will not have forgotten and it should be a warming thought in this iced season to consider the restored availability of her local performances. If you arrived during Beki's absence, you have a treat in store at the Lake.

For those too impatient to wait it out until Monday, samples of Brindle's stylings are available at her website-- along with reviews from Relix, Music Paper, WBAI, Different Beat Magazine; even Italy's Rockerilla, which raves "album of the year" for her "Lucky Catatonia" CD with Windopane, or just plain "brilliant" from Foster Child. The visual part of the act clicks on photos from different stages of Brindle's career, including separate shots of her with Dublin Bands like Hothouse Flowers, The Waterboys and the Mary Stokes Band (the latter of which she recorded with in 1989; Rick Danko, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Burton, Tom Pacheco, John Sebastian, Grace Pool (with whom she did a Warner Brothers CD) and, of course, the legendary James "Yank" Rachell, to whom she owes a slice of her blues sensibilities.

Rachell, a multi-instrumentalist known especially for his rare acoustic blues mandolin treatments, came out of the Brownsville, Tennesseee scene which spawned artists like Jab Jones and Homesick James Williamson. He gained further prominence in St.Louis during the 30's amidst a scene which also boasted Big Joe Williams and Henry Townsend before he hit Chicago. Yank spent the latter part of his life in Indianapolis, where he moved in the late '50's to raise a family and drop out of the performance arena until popping up at the Newport Folk Festival with Brownsville homey, Sleepy John Estes in '65 or '66. Brindle, who knew Rachell since she was 15 and played with him off and on since 19, can be cited for some rather authentic blues credentials.

Although he had recorded well into the 1980's, when Brindle hooked Rachell together with a long-time admirer named John Sebastian in 1996, there wasn't an abundance of fans who were sure Yank was still with us. But, not only was he with us, he was still very much into the music and Sebastian seized the opportunity to record with the old master before his death at 87 in April 1997. Although only three of these tracks have been released thus far (on John's "Jug Band" album) there's more to come, including more tracks on an upcoming Jugband album and a January 97 concert with the J Band in the can. Brindle's presence kept Yank happily busy toward the end.

Meanwhile, Brindle has been sporting some of those weaned-at-the-core and polished-in-the- shade licks on a solo album in progress co-written over the last few years with the sometimes Dixonian Fullin, (a sight to be heard, hisownself), which are also featured in the first set of the bluesmonday series before the later set pulls a lively open jam out of the woodwork.

"When I came back to town, I was sad to see how dead the place was," Brindle reflects. "Not like it used to be. But, slowly, we started getting more and more people out; getting consistently better and better (turnout) and, lately, it's been really good. Even through the weather, it was really packed last week. A lot of young people are writing blues songs and they get inspired and come up and rock out."

For now, you can call the present line-up The Brindle Band, Beki said, "or Bluesmonday...I wanted to call it Bitchass Goddess and wear outrageous dresses but nobody would let me." Under one of those titles, the crew will be exporting the show to The Spiral in Manhattan to headline a benefit on January 17th for the City Kids Foundation. The city's bound to be dazzled but, you- lucky stiff- can be dazzled right here in your backyard.

-Irv Yarg