September-October, 2006

 

October 20-22nd--Arlington Vintage Guitar Show--Arlington, TX--I was just an observer.  Gary was hosting the post-event jam session at the Windham Hotel next to the convention center and I decided to tag along to visit an old friend in DFW.  Not wanting to spend much time lurking around half-a-million guitars and fifty-thousand guitar players, I opted to lay low until the jam session started.  These jam sessions can be a model for musical peaks and valleys.  Gary had a host rhythm section that was as good as ever...solid drummer and killer bass player.  I sat back to observe and listen which can be nice sometimes when there is no pressure to perform.  Especially in front of a few hundred musicians.  Gary, on the other hand, steps up his game in moments like this.  It doesn't matter if Rick Derringer (who was in town) or Joe Blow from Idaho hopped up on stage, Gary was going to outshine whomever...  Some "Hot-Shot" from Japan got up to play and was terrible in comparison.  There were a couple of other pickers that tried, but none could muster the same fire that Gary was whipping up.  Hiding near the back of the room, I was eavesdropping on the stunned onlookers.  "Man, who is this guy?"  or "Gary is cutting the head right off that dude!"  or just a simple shaking of the head and a respectful clapping of the hands to acknowledge that our own Gary Hutchison is on that highest level.  Players don't get better than that...they just move around in that space.

Highlights for me...I was afforded the opportunity to meet a drumming legend, Jamie Oldaker (www.jamieoldaker.com), who is the long time drummer for Eric Clapton and has performed with Leon Russell and Bob Seger to name a few.  What I didn't know was that Gary called me up to perform with the Whitlock Brothers right after Oldaker performed.  Following a legend like that is pretty nerve-wrecking.  It was good though...  Then seeing and hearing Gary rule over all-comers was nice.  And, have an opportunity to spend time with a best friend is always great.  Even if it is 500 miles away. 

 

photo by Martin Herlocker

 

October 7th--Private Party--Fayetteville, AR--Normally, as you know, I don't report private parties...especially wedding receptions as they are...well...private.  This Saturday, though, we performed for our good friend, Carter Clark and his new bride.  Carter, a former UA basketball player, has followed the band for years and has always been a great friend.  Great party and great people.  Best wishes to you both as you make your new life together.

 

October 6th--Landry's--Fort Smith, AR--Landry's has been our most active venue for the band and for Gary in the River Valley over the past few months.  The food is great (already said that...).  It's small and not really set up for a band.  But we managed to cram the band into the corner by the door and rocked those folks into submission Friday night.  Brian joined us to make it an Oreo Blue show (see...I told you) and it was great.  Brian was tearing it up on saxophone...absolutely freaking out those folks within arms reach of the "bandstand."  I recommend the blackened chicken over noodles...

 

Special Insert--Home--As the realization sets in that Brian has officially left the band, I must personally admit that sadness has set in from this band member.  Nowhere has there been a more professional bandleader in the industry...maybe equal, but none more so.  Although the rest of us have chipped in along the way, Brian has been the spearhead and the catalyst for the band's ultimate success for over 15 years.  A long time for any band at any level.  I mean...the Beatles were only together for 9 years.  For a regional act fueled solely on an entrepreneurial spirit and thriving on an independent platform, Oreo Blue became a success because of Brian's vision to produce a unique sound blending soulful saxophone fire with blistering guitar oftentimes in unison and other times engaged in an on-stage battle.  The formula worked for the course of time these 15 years resulting in an instantly identifiable sound, a strong collection of Brian-produced recorded materials, and a high-energy live show that makes its mark on even the most discerning audiences.  Never willing to compromise, Brian has always demanded the best from his band mates.  My drumming predecessors were all the best in the business, Don Orell, Mike Lovelady,  Doug Huffman, etc.  Shoes that could never be filled and the expectations were always high.  But there was always a purpose...the music, the groove.  It always comes first.  But Brian has always run the band much like a tight-knit family.  There is love for each other like brothers plodding through life with music as a vehicle...as a mouthpiece.  Brian can proudly say that he has made his musical mark on our society.  Brian "is" Oreo Blue, as it were, where Gary Hutchison has become part of his signature sound formula.   Rhythm sections always seem expendable, but Rod and I have come to produce a solid foundation that has allowed Brian and Gary to build fantastic musical landscapes for the eleven or more years since Gary's arrival.  Some of it has been captured on disc, but my ultimate memories of Oreo Blue over the past 8 years in the band will be filled with those times on the road in the Rock n Roll Suburban telling stories and cutting up like teenagers.  The countless live performances that make the chill bumps on your skin seem permanent.  Playing your heart out for 5 people and exhausting yourself for 25,000 people and feeling exactly the same either way.  I know that Brian will still be around...he will still perform when we beg him to.  I know he will miss it and I look for his return to the stage sooner than probably he expects.  However, we will press on in the mean time with the three of us as the Oreo Blue Trio.  We still make great music and will have a great time, but it is not the same.  An old football coach of mine was teaching me how to tackle.  I was just a kid and wasn't really getting it.  He finally just blurted out, "Take off his head.  He won't be nothin' after that."  I never forgot that simple line.  Oreo Blue is not Oreo Blue without Brian.  To our mutual success, my friend, and we will see you on stage not soon enough.--Stephen 

 

September 27-30th--Bikes Blues BBQ Festival--Fayetteville, AR--It came and went like a buzz saw through Northwest Arkansas... well, it kind of sounded like a buzz saw anyway.  Nearly 9 hours on stage Friday night for Gary and Saturday was a show for the ages.  There will be many photographs over the next week or so come in and I think that I would rather just let some of the pictures tell the story, mmkay?  In the mean time, please go check out Craig Nelson's excellent black and white photos here:  http://nelsonfoto.com/bbbbq2006/oreoblue/

 

September 16th--Blues Blast Fund Raiser--Chanute, KS--More than 300 people at Katy Park in Chanute for a fundraiser for Horizon Hospice held in conjunction with a poker run. Together the events raised more than $4500 in proceeds for the hospice and the Oreo Blue Trio helped rock them into the windy night.  Set up on the foul line at the Katy ball field playing to the north stands, the crowd was dancing on the tables.  Great folks and a great cause... 

 

September 8th--Georges Majestic Lounge 79th Birthday Bash--Fayetteville, AR--What a fantastic establishment.  Full of history, longevity, and great music over the generations.  The quality of live music is no greater anywhere in the USA thanks to Brian's commitment to excellence.  Tonight was no exception.  We performed a quick set to open things up followed by the Cate Brothers and legendary Elvin Bishop outdoors.  Indoors, it was the Nace Brothers, Steve Pryor and Eric Sardinas.  Saturday, it was Oteil Burbridge and the Peacemakers, Rising Star Fife & Drum, North Mississippi All Stars, The Codetalkers, Mountains of Venus, and Speakeasy.  No way any other club could touch that lineup especially for the low cover charge...  I had a chance to check out Oteil and the Peacemakers and man...what an unreal band.  Oteil is the bass player for the Allman Brothers Band during the day and has his own funky band on the side.  What a great night all around...one of the greatest on record.

 

September 2nd--Hogville Tailgate Party (USC vs Arkansas)...the Mother Of All Tailgates (MOAT)--Fayetteville, AR--It is a concept that is in the making, but will someday be amazing.  Ultimately, the Hogville MOAT was a great time for all participants.  We rocked the crowd in the UA Gardens.  There is a photo essay located here-----------> 

 

August 26th--The Kitchen Pass--Joplin, MO--Alright, I know I am supposed to put this one in the August newsletter, but I forgot, OK?  It's all good because Carl Parker sent us some photos of the show that I just got today.  The KP is a mainstay for us.  We rocked them with the Oreo Blue Trio that night and it was full throttle...

 

photos by Carl Parker

 

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