November-December, 2003

 

photo© John Blair

December 31st--The Tivoli Auditorium--Ardmore, Oklahoma--It has been a tremendous year for Oreo Blue and what a way to cap it off by rocking one of our favorite towns.  Aubry and Angela Harris of Two Frogs Grill in Ardmore (the best place to eat in Oklahoma), have become quite salty at putting on live shows in their venue.  This night, with the anticipation of a larger crowd, they partnered with Lance at the Tivoli to put on a great show.  Wes Jeans took the stage to open buttressed by Oreo rhythm sectionaires, Rod and Stephen.  The set was hot from the start as Wes tore through Superstition, Shape I'm In, and a half dozen others.  Oreo climbed up and rocked the revelers with their party set and then it was time for Aubry to get aboard the groove train.  Aubry loves to jam.  He is probably cut from the same mold as Gary as they both seem to be stuck on age 12.  At least with regard to their penchant for fun.  Then, Wes joined us all on stage again for the big jam.  Yes, it was loud, but it was really fun.  Wes led the finale with his version of All Along the Watchtower which included solos by all.  When it was all over and the countdown reached 2004, we packed it all up and headed to Watsonburger for some 3:00am chow and storytelling.  The next morning (or later that day), we hopped into the Rock and Roll Suburban and headed out on the 5-hour journey home.  Just outside of Ft. Smith, a tire blew out on the trailer and I lurched the stumbling thing over to the roadside.  We thought we might limp into Ft. Smith and drop the trailer at Rod's house, but figured he would have none of that, so we pulled it into a truck stop about a quarter mile down the road.  Figuring on New Year's Day, there would be nothing open, Brian asked the clerk if there might be a place to fix a tire.  She said "pull it around back".  Just behind the truck stop was a 24-hour tire repair guy who happened to have a trailer tire just our size.  What are the chances?  We were fixed up and on our way in half an hour.  2004 is going to be a good year...

photo© John Blair

December 27th--Georges Majestic Lounge--Fayetteville, Arkansas--If you had not heard by now, George's is about to undergo a massive transformation.  Our own Brian Crowne has sunk his teeth into the stalwart club and will take over ownership in rapid order with long-time family friend (caterer, socialite, restaurateur, song writer, snappy drummer, and the quintessential everywoman), Suzie Stephens.  Word is that the front will host an eatery and the garden will be transformed into the showcase live music venue in the state (not that it wasn't already, but massive improvements were needed and Brian is just the man to make 'em).  Tonight, we had a blast on the inside stage with some friends, Jed Clampit, Bryan Martin, Robert Spoon, and Chris Payton with her new band mate, Sheila Kidd.  Robert Spoon started things off sitting in with the band and played some surprisingly tasty rhythm guitar and some impressive leads.  Chris stepped in to tear up a few of our oldies like Earned the Right (that's a great song).  Chris and Sheila then cruised through a few songs and Bryan Martin stepped up and showed everyone why he needs to be gigging and soon now that he is permanently off the truck driving circuit.  Jed joined in the fun and picked through some standards with the band as well.  It is always a great time when Jed's alter ego, Frank Bluebonnet, finds his way out of his shell.  Frank can boogie with the best of them and as Jed exclaims, "Frank don't owe nobody and he ain't got a care in the world.  He just plays from the heart.  Pretty great, huh?"  Frank shook it up on Route 66, and Workin Man Blues among others.  But you all need to be ready for the new and improved George's coming February 7th when Oreo Blue returns to the stage with the Cate Brothers and Nace Brothers for Gary's 2nd Annual Birthday Bash and the grand re-opening of the club.  See you then. 

 

December 26th--503 Oyster Bar--Fort Smith, Arkansas--This small club on Garrison Avenue in downtown Ft. Smith used to be called the Old Town Grain and Feed.  It reportedly was the hottest spot in the Fort to perform as hot bands would fill the little place to capacity night in and night out.  Those days faded over the last few years.  This night, though, with the cool new owners and a new moniker, the 503 was rocking to Oreo Blue.  I can't imagine this place holding more than 100 people, but it sure seemed like there were 200 sardined into that joint.  Let's hope the 503 revitalizes the old pub spot.

photo© John Blair

December 12th--Fort Smith Realtors Convention--Fort Smith, Arkansas--Rod is a realtor.  And he is a great bass player.  Likened to the great Duck Dunn and James Jamerson.  But I bet those guys never had a real estate license.  I have never bought a house from Rod (I live in Lowell), but if he is half the realtor that he is a bass player, then if you live in the River Valley, you should probably buy a house from Rod.  Chuck Fawcett has always been kind to the band.  He procured this event for us in lieu of his annual Christmas party which is generally a raucous (rô'kûs) time.  Chuck is also a realtor.  You can buy a home from him, too.  But call Rod first.

And speaking of houses...I just moved into a house I just built.  I was setting up the television in the living room and thought I would try out the DVD player.  Cat in the Hat was in the player so I let it roll.  I thought, "Man, this TV sure sounds thin by itself.  I can't hear the bass."  So I pulled out the subs and a couple of satellite speakers and hooked 'em up.  Cat in the Hat just didn't seem appropriate, so I swapped it with the Jimi Hendrix Tribute DVD we released earlier this year.  I watched the whole darned thing start to finish.  The sound was great, and the show was great.  It was cool.  This thing just isn't getting enough attention.  It gets better every time I watch it and I was there... and by the way, the bass was ruling on that video.
 

photo© John Blair

December 6th--Benchmark Group Christmas Party-- Fayetteville, Arkansas--These folks really have embodied the spirit of Christmas.  When companies all over the globe are cutting back on expenses and denying their employees simple rewards for a year's worth of hard work, the folks at Benchmark laid out a lavish spread.  High dollar prime rib, chicken cordon bleu, and all the finest fruits and cheeses accented a night of fun with door prizes and great entertainment (of course).  

photo© John Blair

December 5th--The Kitchen Pass--Joplin, Missouri--With its summertime patio working in the warm months, it seems like ages between sets inside the KP at Joplin.  This is really a great room for live music.  It's big with a big stage and we always feel most comfortable on it when Brian is manning the sound board.  Usually, when we take the stage at the KP in Joplin, we look out into the crowd and see many familiar faces.  This night, there were many new faces in the crowd.  As a matter of fact, when Brian polled the crowd about how many knew former SW Missouri native, Gary personally, none acknowledged.  It was odd, but proof that every day, Oreo Blue is picking up new fans like Gary's Humbuckers pick up notes.  

 

December 3rd--Newell/Rubbermaid Wal-Mart Team Christmas Party--Fayetteville, Arkansas--Thanks to the Rubbermaid WM Team for having us for their Christmas Party.  Happy Holidays!  From Oreo Blue.

 

November 29th--Gearheads--Neosho, Missouri--The last time we were here, it was the Hendrix Tribute release.  When you walk through the doors, hastily twined to the first load-bearing pole is a trophy from that night.  A blue Fender Stratocaster partially blackened, partially melted, partially broken, and completely vindicated in its symbolism.  There would be none of that destruction tonight, but rather great music shared by a few of Neosho's finest.  Former OB guitarist, Bryan Martin joined us on stage during the second set and tore up Red House and picked through some beautifully patient solos.  By the way, the cheeseburgers are excellent at Gearheads...

The Packed House at the Kitchen Pass

photo© John Blair

November 28th--The Kitchen Pass--Parsons, Kansas--Throughout the band's 12 year history, there have been venues that have come and gone.  Oftentimes, we get attached to a venue primarily for its vibe, tonal qualities of the room, great food, and most importantly, the people.  The Kitchen Pass ranks high in all of these qualities and has become a favorite stopping place of ours.  It had been a long spell since our last visit so we were anxious to get back.  At our last visit, we had mused that we might write a song about the place.  However, as busy as we all are both on and off the stage, there seemed like no time to pen the ditty.  With months to prepare, we instead packaged the new tune, At The Pass, just a few short days before the show.  It was well received as it included the names of many of the familiar faces there and a jumping swing rhythm.  Look for it on a future recording...

 

   

photo © Beth Webb

November 22nd--George’s Majestic Lounge--Fayetteville, Arkansas--Before we even talk about the show we have to give props to our beloved Razorbacks for the intense whipping they gave Mississippi State !!!! 

Now we can move on.  I will say that Stephen and I personally were in need of some serious Oreo groove mojo baby.  It’s like when you’ve been on the road for a month and haven’t seen your baby.  You’ve had fun traveling and playing, but you need to come home to momma and feel the love.  That’s exactly what we got taking the stage with our band mates Gary and Rod that Saturday night.  It was on from the first song and we could have gone all night long with no Viagra needed. To make things even better it was one of the best and most responsive hometown crowds we’ve had in a while.  The inside stage at George’s Majestic Lounge is special, and when your feeling the vibe it doesn’t get much better anywhere.  Oreo had numerous special moments, but it was a treat to have our friends from the Ozark Blues Society in the house with us that night.  We also enjoyed very much our local friends and members of “Leah & The Mojo Doctors” Leah, and Bob Coleman joining us for some fine vocals and harp playing on several numbers.  Kicking off the second set was Springfield Missouri ’s “Tripwire” playing a couple of cool original songs.  Tripwire will be The OBS’s representative at the International Blues Challenge this coming January, so good luck to the boys.  Thanks for all the blues fans that came that night.  Thank you to my band mates, because after twelve years of working together it’s still like a first date taking the stage with these guys.  I love making music with em’ all!!--Brian Crowne/ Sax / Oreo Blue

Gary and Wes Jeans

photo © Beth Webb

November 8th--Players Club--Texarkana, Texas--The last time we were at Players, we performed our Hendrix Tribute and it created quite a stir.  The local music chat site was buzzing about Oreo Blue and our frequent special guest Wes Jeans in anticipation of our return.  Here are some of the excerpts:

--Is Texarkana ready for this show! Oreo is probably one of the most professional bands I have ever seen here.

--They seem to love what they do and [I] believe they would put on a fantastic show even if there were only 2 people who showed to see them.  If every band had this attitude we'd all get to see a lot better shows!

--Oreo Blue kicked ass they are a great bunch of guys.

--Just got and viewed the Oreo Blue Jimi Hendrix Experience tribute. I can't begin to tell you how good it is.

--[snip] I thought Oreo was incredible- And [snip] you really did miss the best part of the show! I kind of feel sorry for Wes, I wouldn't have wanted to follow a burning guitar!

With that said, it seemed like we would have our work cut out for us in our return.  We invited Wes to join us again and I must admit that we might have been a bit pumped for the show our selves.  I thought the band was in top form and the crowd--small, but feisty--seemed to love every firework the band launched that night.  With our stalwart master, Gary and the white-hot Wes Jeans trading licks, I don't think Texarkana was ready at all for this show.  As a matter of fact, I think that Texarkana made a big mistake by not rolling out in force to Players on Saturday...Big mistake.  I am a drummer, but I would have not missed those two guitarists performing together.  If Texarkana gets another chance at seeing these two together again, it better reserve a much larger venue.

Wes Jeans and Rod grooving

photo© John Blair

November 7th--The Red River Club--Gainesville, Texas--This was our first visit to Gainesville and the Red River Club.  In a small horsing community in the north part of the state, it was hard to imagine there would be a hip club.  But to our surprise, the Red River was quite cool.  The crowd was small, but so into the music it seemed as if the place was packed.  We can always count on our fans to show up no matter where we go and those who traveled from Oklahoma helped us get through the night by showing the locals how to rock.  

 

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