ORANGE COUNTY BLUES BASH
As I entered Chasers Lounge in Orange, California on April 12 of
this year to attend the Orange County Blues Bash, I was struck with
a wave of nostalgia. Chasers
is a the kind of bar that used to abound on street corners all
across America; The kind of bar that I downed my first shot of Jack
in Baton Rouge. The
kind of bar that you just dont see anymore.
Nowadays, people would rather go to a corporation owned,
chrome and glass blues bar. Perhaps they prefer a loud, spacious
sports bar with enough televisions to make a personal impact on the
Nielson ratings. Chasers
is just an old- fashioned corner bar, with a Pool table that doubles
as a buffet table and patrons that are more concerned with visiting
comfortably with their friends than making the scene.
It had a large stage with a backdrop of tacky silver tinsel.
It was a great place for Gentleman Greg Serratos annual gig.
I arrived at the thirteen- hour event just in time to catch
Greg Serrato and his band.
As Greg began the set by launching into a rousing slide guitar, the
regular patrons of the bar turned their heads to hear this sound
that filled the room. Im
sure Chasers offers fine entertainment on a regular basis, and
Im sure the nine hours of blues that Greg put together for this
gig was exceptional, but it was obvious that they were not used to
hearing Blues of this caliber. Gregs solid vocals and fluid guitar filled the room with
sweet, confident music. The
second thing I noticed was the cohesiveness of the band; Mike
Rincons bass was busy, as there was no second guitar.
He established a baseline that really gave Alan Cater a
chance to work out on the drums while Chris DeSoto played his
Hammond B-3 like it was meant to be played, a sweet, smooth
compliment to Gregs articulate solos.
I dont know; it might have been mere coincidence.
They could have been following a playlist. But maybe Greg has
an intuition when it comes to sensing what the audience is ready to
hear. He seemed to sense when the audience was ready to kick back to
a slow blues, or if their attention was beginning to lag.
He would launch, without pause, into something like "All
Along the Watchtower" that was so tight, so polished, that the
waitresses and barmaids stopped dead in their tracks to listen. Any
band that can make the employees stop what theyre doing are not
only true professionals, they are a professional band at the top of
their game. You will hear this writer in regard to the pauses
between songs often, as I feel this is an important part of a live
performance. I have
heard some excellent artists destroy the mood of a show simply by
taking too long between numbers.
Greg Serrato knows how to turn an audience on and keep them
tuned in. With the
audience in rapt attention, Greg made a seamless transition from
Watchtower to Voodoo Chile that had the audience on its
feet. The band paused
just long enough for Greg to introduce his son, Greg Serrato, Jr.,
to join them in a Cream style version of Crossroads, the
bands last song for the night.
They concluded to shouts of More, more.
This is quite a tribute when you consider that this blues
bash had been going on for ten hours, and there was still more to
come, including the formidable BB Chung King and the Buddaheads.
This was such an excellent performance.
My only regret is that time restraints made it impossible to
cover the entire Orange County Blues Bash.
This is an oversight that I personally guarantee will not
happen next year. Hats
off to Greg Serrato for putting this gig together.
You really are a fine musician and a Grande gentleman, Greg.