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  Pat Benny Article  


                                    GREG SERRATO’S ORANGE COUNTY BLUES BASH

  As I entered Chaser’s 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.  Chaser’s 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 don’t 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.  Chaser’s 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 Serrato’s 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.  I’m sure Chaser’s offers fine entertainment on a regular basis, and I’m 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.  Greg’s solid vocals and fluid guitar filled the room with sweet, confident music.  The second thing I noticed was the cohesiveness of the band; Mike Rincon’s 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 Greg’s articulate solos.

  I don’t 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 they’re 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 band’s 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.

http://gregserrato.com

               --Pat Benny

 

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