September-October, 2001


October 26-27th--George's Majestic Lounge--Fayetteville, Arkansas--Generally, these newsletter entries are designed to be objective and informative enough for those who unfortunately missed the show.  This week, I thought I might share our show experience from a singular perspective; namely mine.  In the coming weeks, I hope to finagle the perspective of my fellow band-mates.

I always get a little pumped for the George's show.  Not that I don't get that way for every opportunity to perform, but George's has historically had great crowds and has produced many of our best performances.  The preparation begins almost immediately following the previous week's show.  Drive down to the music shop to pick up some new drumsticks and a replacement drumhead, call Brian to double check the load-in time, and listen to some previously recorded Oreo Blue shows to keep the material fresh in my mind.  On Friday, we set up at about 4:30 and sound check at about 5:15.  There always seems to be something quirky during sound check that slows things down.  This night, it might be some unexplainable feedback.  On other nights, it might be a blown speaker or a microphone cable that doesn't work.  In any case, it usually pushes us to mere moments before the happy hour show time at 6:00.  I prefer to warm up my hands prior to the show to be loose and relaxed and able to perform to the best of my ability.  Without that extra time, I might play stiff or risk injury.  The show starts and the people flock in.  Many are coming in for the discounted drinks, but find themselves caught up in our music.  It was a bit loud this night at first.  But as the place crowded, the energy started emanating from the stage and the folks got caught up in what Brian calls "the infectious groove."  I bought a new ride cymbal last week with a bell like an anvil and since I did not warm up, I started feeling the pain early.  Like a football player in cold weather, you just want to get that first hit out of the way so your body warms up.  Likewise, I figured, "Just play through it...happy hour is, well, only an hour."  Banging away like a circus chimp grinning all the way.  Gary, Rod and I went to Penguin Ed's BBQ for the ceremonial dinner between shows.  Yummy.  I won't say more since I am rambling...

Saturday came early.  The Razorbacks played Auburn at 11:30 and I had to be up to watch the game even though I didn't get home until 3:30am.  Our team won (Go Hogs!), so the hope for a great night was on.  I got to the club a little too early finding myself with nothing to do.  I guess I was so excited to play, I thought that maybe we could start at, say, 7:00 instead of 9:30.  Well, of course I was wrong, but I knew that.  Anxiety just got the best of me.  I drove over to my office a few blocks away to check e-mail and then back to the club to take advantage of the extra time to warm up my hands and feet.  After last night, my hands felt like they had gone through a prize fight.  Bruised and blistered.  I could  barely make a fist without wincing.  Show time came and the crowd was as wonderful as we could have hoped.  The band was really kicking.  I was having a great time embellishing the grooves a bit in all the excitement hoping nobody would notice (or maybe that they would...).  I particularly enjoyed the solo sections on Killing Floor and Brian's solo on Brick House.  David Renko from the Cate Brothers joined in the fun blowing a hot sax on a shuffling version of Little Red Rooster.  Dave was dressed up for Halloween as the Devil...in a blue dress!  I also enjoyed having Sterling Tucker up from the Take Cover band to lead us in Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh.  After packing up and loading out, I must admit that I was physically tired.  I was still "up" from the adrenaline and water-logged from all the water I drank.  Sometimes after a good weekend it seems like we should celebrate.  However, more often than not, it is just time to get home and get some sleep.  On the way home, I pulled into a Taco Bell and celebrated with a few burritos and a large Mountain Dew.  And started thinking about next weekend's show...

October 22nd--Cyberspace--There are often some indications that you have 'made it' as a band or a musician.  These days, if someone is selling your memorabilia on Ebay, then surely...

Ebay Item # 1475997930

October 19th--Texas Guitar Show--Arlington, Texas--Touted as one of the largest guitar shows in the country, Oreo Blue was invited to perform at the pre-show party by the show's organizers.  Performing one set for the guitar enthusiasts, Oreo Blue showcased why Gary Hutchison stands tall among the vast sea of guitar players in the world.  Soon after, the stage was overtaken by jam session players of all kinds.  The next day at the guitar show, Oreo Blue received numerous compliments on its performance.  I got to go to The Ball Park at Arlington while the boys shopped for guitar stuff...very cool.  Gary and Brian sold a bunch of stuff at the show and Rod bought a nice Fender Precision Bass at a nice price.  It was also nice to have Rod's son Brad along for the trip.  Brad, a 16-year-old guitar player himself, was treated to some life on the road with Oreo Blue.  We took him to the Guitar Center and Mars Music as well as the Olive Garden in North Dallas for some herpes soup.  Fun for all.

October 12-13th--Tuesday USA--Little Rock, Arkansas--A quaint little place on the corner of State and Markham.  The food in the restaurant is excellent.  It is too bad we did not have enough time to eat down there...we had work to do.  Friday was a rough road in to town.  Gary was feeling sick and the construction on I-40 is absurd to say the least.  The show went as well as could be expected as many Oreo Blue fans drove in from places like Pine Bluff, Hot Springs and Benton just to see the show.  We don't get to Little Rock often enough, so you OB fans down in the central part of the state go petition your favorite pub in the Rock.  Saturday afternoon was great.  The Razorbacks beat #9 South Carolina in Little Rock and at least Brian and I were ecstatic.  I apologize to Day and all those folks at Shorty Smalls for my boisterous Hog Fan behavior.  Apparently, Gary's sickness grew to illness and he was unable to make the show on Saturday.  Our good friend Jeff Curry from Fayetteville was kind enough to make the drive all the way to LR to fill in for Gary.  Jeff did an admirable job and the band thanks him for bailing us out on such short notice.  You can catch Jeff and his band at the bi-monthly blues jams at George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Arkansas and at the Honest Lawyer in Rogers, Arkansas

 

Oreo Blue with Black Magic at the KBBF Media Party

Photo By The Bluesnet at stlblues.net.

 

October 5-6th--King Biscuit Blues Festival--Helena, Arkansas--On Friday, Oreo Blue was given a special invitation to perform for the International Media Party at the KBBF.  Upon arrival, Oreo Blue was treated with an astonishing amount of hospitality beginning with (of course) the food.  KBBF artists were fed like kings with some wonderfully prepared home-cooked meals.  As we began preparations for the load-in...the rain came again.  Oreo Blue was moved inside where the press was treated to an excellent performance by the band.  Sit-ins included Black Magic from Baltimore, MD, and Guitar Matt from California.  Comments included:  "Your band is absolutely wonderful...so professional and so energetic!  Oreo Blue is the buzz around here and you guys are making people talk."--from Media & Public Relations Director Jerry Wenzel.  Jerry was kind enough to accommodate the band at a dormant, plantation-style home just blocks away from the festival.  Even though I brought my sleeping bag, I think the boys will next year turn on the heaters before going to bed...Thanks for the accommodations!  It was otherwise wonderful.

On Saturday after the thaw, the day was beautiful.  The rains moved out and with our astonishing success on Friday evening, the event coordinators moved us from our open-mike stage locations on the perimeter of the festival to about 50 yards from the main stage.  In addition, they asked us to set up early and play late!  The strategy worked as Oreo Blue worked the street crowd to a boil as on-lookers stopped on their way to the main stage and stayed for both lengthy sets.  With all due respect to the wonderful talent on the main stage such as Robert Lockwood, Jr, Levon Helm, Snooks Eaglin, and Jimmy Johnson (all blues greats)...the folks that smiled and danced, cheered and screamed,  stared and boogied, were convinced that Oreo Blue was the best show in town.  We made many new friends and were even included in a documentary being filmed by a French Camera Crew on the Legend of the Crossroads and Robert Johnson.  (Send us an e-mail, Pete and Lawrence...we want copies!).

 

September 29th--Mary Beth and Jesse's Wedding--Marianna, Arkansas--Congratulations to the newlyweds...we had a wonderful time performing for you and your party.  Gary apologizes for playing the "most awful rendition" of the Star Spangled Banner ever, but it just comes out that way.  He loves America because America gave him Fender Guitars, Gibson Guitars, Jimi Hendrix, and the right to play the National Anthem any way he pleases.  We happen to think it's cool.  Besides...it is one of the rare moments in life when both men and women drop their jaws, scream incessantly, tear up, and smile ear-to-ear at the moment.  

 

September 29th--Gibson Guitar Factory--Memphis, Tennessee--Have you ever seen a 6-year-old child walk into Toys-R-Us for the first time?  It looks a lot like Gary Hutchison walking into the Gibson Guitar Factory.  Oreo Blue was treated to a nice tour of the new facility.  Our guide, Chuck Porter, led us through the facility where Gibson's famous guitars are made.  I don't think our tour group noticed the custodian following the drooling Gary with a mop bucket...I might have some pictures.  Click over to the photos page for pictures of our tour.

 

 

 

September 28th--Black Diamond on Beale Street--Memphis, Tennessee--The band had not been to Memphis in some time and it was nice to be back.  The weather was beautiful for a five-hour drive.  Everything was hunky-dory up until the keys were locked inside the trailer.  It is readily apparent that every locksmith in Memphis is either so wealthy that it need not work, or so apathetic that it couldn't tell a keyhole from an....well, anyway...after calling every one of them, we got no response.  However, the Memphis Fire Department was as heroic on this day as they had proven throughout the last three weeks in New York.  Albeit our problem paled in comparison, the friendly firefighters brought out the bolt cutters and got us to the show with minutes to spare (and with that $75.00 we didn't have to spend). Thanks, guys.  The show went on without a hitch with the best ear in Memphis, Dawn, running the sound board.  If only there had been anyone there to hear it...  

 

September 22nd--George's Majestic Lounge--Fayetteville, AR--The weather was beautiful...not too cool, not too warm.  Considering the events of the recent past, the band expected to have a slow turnout.  In contrast, it seems the folks in Fayetteville and maybe around the country are beginning to get back to "normalcy".  The crowd was not a record-breaker, but extremely excitable and fun-loving.  We were treated to a sit-in performance by our great friend, Darren Ray, from Big Bad Bubba.  Darren, known for his vocal prowess in the Southern Rock vein can bring a crowd to a boil with renditions of Tush, Alright Now, and Can't Get Enough of Your Love.  You can learn more about Darren and the boys at their web site www.bigbadbubba.net.

 

September 15th--Gary and Nancy's 30th Anniversary Party--Goodman, Missouri--Gary and Nancy have been fans of Oreo Blue for years and friends for even longer having grown up with Gary Hutchison.  Sometimes surprise parties get foiled and the guests of honor are ho-hum about things.  I thought these folks had won the lottery when the stepped onto their back deck and saw a stage with Oreo Blue on it.  And man...what a view!  Uh...I am not talking about OB, but rather the 240 some-odd acres of sprawling green valley behind the house.  I admit I have never taken a stage with such magnitude and splendor.  I hope to have some pictures up someday of that backdrop...what a great place.

I haven't raved about food in a while.  Should I?  I know this is getting long, and I don't usually carry on about private parties like this, but I am sure Gary and Nancy won't mind.  They had a whole hog, potato salad, cookies, 3-layer dip, smoked salmon, baked beans, cookies, chips, more cookies, pasta salad, and...did I mention a whole hog?  I mean a whole hog!  Don't tell anyone, but I filled my plate six times.  I think the plate was small...

Playing the show this evening was a particular treat for Gary Hutchison as he was entertaining many old school-mates and friends.  One special moment during the evening was his spine-chilling Hendrixian rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  During this moment, the fifty plus folks rose to their feet and cheered, and clapped, and cried, and laughed, and remained standing for every note.  I have seen this bit a dozen or more times in my two and a half years with the band, but I had never seen this reaction this way.  Not even at the 4th of July shows...

  

September 14th--The Kitchen Pass--Joplin, Missouri--Shows on the patio at the KP are often looked forward to in the early fall.  The weather was lovely, but as the entry below reflects, there was apprehension on the drive up to Joplin.  It was the first time we as a band had gotten together since Tuesday and the conversation was met with disbelief and sorrow.  Sometimes you just have to put on a CD and talk about kids or baseball or the weather.  The show was fine and the crowd was larger than expected and certainly appreciative.

Special Insert--September 11th--Home--As all of you know, the surreal events in New York City have put a hush over the world.  The unspeakable terrorist acts have affected all of our lives in some way.  No doubt, these events will continue to influence our sense of content as free and secure Americans.  As we hope the people of the world could live and let live in harmony...we as musicians continue to offer up the "universal language" of music to comfort and console.  We as fathers, brothers, sons, and Americans wish for a peaceful resolve to bring justice to those who use terror to speak.  God Bless America!

September 8th--Razorback Tailgate Party--Washington County Fairgrounds--Fayetteville, Arkansas--Let's put it this way, I had a completely different vision of the "Nation's Largest Tailgate Party."  I guess it was the torrential rains...you know how the trickle-down theory works.

I know this...if any one is reading this, be at the fairgrounds next Saturday at 11:00 am and we will give you a show you won't soon forget.  Oreo Blue will fire you up for the Razorback game versus UNT like you've never been fired up.  Try us...you'll like us.

September 7-8th--Maxine's Tap Room--Fayetteville, Arkansas--Maxine is cool.  I mean, 50 plus years in the same place serving generations of University of Arkansas students and locals the coldest beer in town.  She has debunked the absolute that secondary smoke will kill humans.  I am convinced, therefore, that Maxine is not human, but rather some type of guardian angel.  An angel sent in the form of a bar matron giving guidance to wandering young souls.  Souls whose parents filtered amongst her narrow walls in search of life's answers.  The real answers to life must not lie in the masterful words of the poets or the timeless writings of the scholars.  It must not lie in the hollowed walls of the University itself.  Rather, the real answers can be found at the bottom of a frosted glass or on the dominoes score sheet, in the ding-ding machines, or if you stare at the reflection of Maxine in the mirror behind the bar.  Try it sometime.  Like the haunted house ride at Disney World...when the ride ends the person sitting next to you looks real when you look directly at them.  When you look in the mirror, the person next to you is...well...not really of this world.  So goes Maxine.  I wonder about it sometimes.  Live long and prosper, Maxine.

Where's Maxine???

 

Oh, the show was fun Friday with a packed house of antsy Razorback fans and answer seekers.  Saturday was rain-soaked and slower, but fun still yet.       

 

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