Thursday, June 22, 2006
For the past seven years, Sly McFly’s Annual After Blues Festival Jam Session has been the place to go for folks who want just one more hearty helping of the blues after three days of music at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival.
Filled to the brim with music enthusiasts like a popular roadhouse in the Mississippi Delta, Sly’s has hosted many of the Festival’s acts and has given local music fans a handful of vivid memories of the event.
Local blues fan Stephen Vagnini, who handles PR for Sly’s, has a couple of distinct recollections from past jam sessions. Once, five years ago, the audience was treated to a performance by contemporary bluesman Lucky Peterson at the nightclub. Unfortunately, Peterson attempted to get closer to his fan base but was unable to due to Sly’s capacity crowd. “He tried to walk through the crowd while playing guitar, but couldn’t because there were too many people,” Vagnini says.
Another high point for Vagnini came when one of blues music’s biggest artists rolled up to the club in a limousine. Though he wasn’t playing at the festival five years ago, Bo Diddley, the legend himself, walked into the club and hung out for the jam session.
Since the first jam session back in 1998, local celebrity/musician/ DJ Lee Durley has hosted the event. He says his position as talent chairperson at the Festival allows him to personally invite acts from the popular three-day music event. “All of the performers know about that jam session,” he says.
This year, Durley is pretty sure he will invite a half-dozen performers to the jam. One name at the top of his list is great contemporary bluesman Colin John, who performs on the festival’s President’s Stage Saturday at 6:15pm.
Backing Durley and all the performers on Sly’s stage will be the J.C. Smith Blues Band. Smith, a former member of The Back to Back Blues Band, whose new group was just named the 2006 Blues Band of the Year by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, has been a part of the jam for the past five years.
Unlike Vagnini, Smith’s favorite memory from jam sessions of years past was forged on stage. A couple years ago, the singer/guitarist and his band were joined by members of the Broadway Blues Band and the horn section from electric bluesman Roy Gaines’ group. “It was just like a wall of sound,” he says. “It was like playing in a blues band on steroids.”
THE 8TH ANNUAL AFTER BLUES FESTIVAL JAM SESSION heats up at Sly McFly’s, 700 Cannery Row in Monterey, Sunday at 9pm. 649-8050.