News From The Woods - October, 1990


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published October, 1990

"Arkansas River Blues Festival"

Well, if you weren't present for the fourth annual Arkansas River Blues Festival, you missed two great days of fun and blues! It was our first time and Susan and I really enjoyed ourselves (even though we were "working"). The Arkansas Blues Connection wanted to document this year's event on video and Bonnie Turner arranged for us to meet with ABC president David Bogard to discuss the game plan.

The event, held July 27 & 28 at Little Rock's Riverfront Park, would be shot documentary style with one camera. This was fine with us, as it meant less work and more concert enjoyment for the both of us. We also got to make lots of new friends and spend a little time with old friends. For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last month, some of the featured performers were Elvin Bishop, Albert King, Tinsley Ellis, Marva Wright, Larry Davis, Johnny Adams, Walter 'Wolfman' Washington, the Blues Patrol, John Craig, and Brenda Smith. Elvin was the eleventh hour replacement for Fats Domino, who couldn't make the gig due to health problems. It seemed that no one missed Fats, however, as Elvin had to play four encores before the crowd would let him go. The weather was great (if a little hot) and there were no problems requiring security.

We arrived at the concert site at 3 pm Friday, two hours before gates opened, and stayed until about 1AM getting our footage. We shot equipment set-up, talked to concert personnel about their duties, and interviewed most of the performers after their appearances. On Saturday we arrived by noon and repeated the same routine. More than five hours of video footage was recorded, including interviews. Our agreement with ABC was to produce a one-hour, edited video of the event, so my work was really cut out for me. Over 49 production hours were involved, including 16 and a half hours of editing time, which I did in one sitting. The end result gives the viewer a condensed look at the festival, with comments from the crowd, interviews with the performers, clips of their performances, and an over-all feel of what it was like to be there.

On Saturday, a crew party was held at Juanita's. The Blues Patrol performed two sets and Susan even stormed the stage and sang. Thanks, everybody! We had a wonderful time. I even got to see Peter Read, although he was too occupied at the time to gab. I guess that's what happens when you become a media mogul. We're already looking forward to the next Blues Fest.....

In other studio news this month, Hamilton/Lambert are scheduled for the 26th & 27th. The plan is to record two more new tunes for the upcoming CD scheduled to be released in October. Current plans are to master the songs directly from 16-track to R-DAT, then transfer digitally to CD. The end result should be excellent sonic clarity and at least 90db of headroom. Normally that's a lot of dynamic range for rock 'n' roll, but considering Ham & Lamb's musical style, that will be an important factor over the quality control of the product. These guys aren't your usual spandex-laden, riff-oriented, blond gods of guitardom. Joe Hamilton is an excellent lyricist with a light, airy quality to his voice. Jai Lambert, who plays all the guitars and keys on the album, knows how he wants the arrangements layered. Their harmonies are tight and original sounding, with just a hint of an English approach to them. This is definitely a band to watch when this CD gets released. With the proper support and distribution, they could put Arkansas back on the music map.

We did have Denise Summy scheduled to come back into the studio this month, but due to an auto accident in Nevada, she will have to reschedule. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt, but her car was totalled. Readers of this column might remember my recounting of the release of her last cassette, To You, on HYPE records a year or so ago. Since that time she married champion bull rider Ross Negu and has been on the western rodeo circuits. She told me on the phone that she had written a great new song about a girl and a rodeo cowboy. Hmmm, wonder where the inspiration came from?

I don't know if this issue will get out in time, but if you are curious about the new M. R. Keck album, Whiplash Gumbo, it was released August 8 and Mr. Keck and company will be celebrating with a live showcase of the material at George's Beer Garden in Fayetteville on August 23. At last report, most of the 17 featured musicians have agreed to perform at this one-time-only gig. It will be such a rush for me to see and hear all these great performers on one stage. I don't think we had any three together at one time during the recording sessions. Come to think of it, maybe I'd better stop sitting here and start practising my guitar!

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