While the very sound of this double bill triggers images of the wide open plains, 10-gallon hats and men sitting high in the saddle, & & ROY ROGERS AND NORTON BUFFALO & & have nothing to do with cowboy songs. This is the blues, man. And when one of the most highly regarded and versatile harmonica players in the industry teams up with the reigning king of bottleneck slide guitar, you can bet the show will make feeling low down feel real good.
The show on Saturday will be the first to take place in the Fox Theater since the Spokane Symphony purchased and began renovating the former movie house. Some of the proceeds from this event will go to help with the theater restoration and will also benefit the Inland Empire Blues Society.
Rogers and Buffalo both hail from the Bay area but rarely perform together, though they have collaborated on recording projects in the past. Combined, their music, while focusing on blues and folk, nevertheless covers a dizzyingly diverse range of American music genres. Their sets typically swing from heart-thumping, up-tempo Southern boogie to down-and-dirty Delta blues to more sedate, lyrical ballads that focus on the incredible subtlety of which these guys are capable.
For as well as these two work together, each is an accomplished and well-seasoned performer in his own right.
The low-key Rogers, in addition to accolades for his slide guitar work, is also recognized as an accomplished songwriter and producer. He has seven solo albums to his credit and is currently working on number eight. He has produced four albums for blues legend John Lee Hooker and a couple for Ramblin' Jack Elliot, snagging several Grammy nominations in the process.
The more flamboyant Buffalo got his start blowing the mouth harp as an original member of the Steve Miller Band. He has since contributed to more than 100 albums by artists as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Marshall Tucker, Johnny Cash and the Doobie Brothers. His two solo albums feature not only stellar harmonica playing but solid songwriting and powerful vocals as well.
But when they team up, the chemistry is undeniable. Expect to hear selections from their 1991 duet album, R & amp;B, as well as brand new original material and a few well-chosen traditional numbers. And if you want to slip on some cowboy boots for this show, be our guest.
& & & lt;i & Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo play at the Fox Theater, Saturday, Nov. 18, at 8 pm. Local bluesman Don Millard opens the show. Tickets: $14; $12 for Blues Society members. Call: 325-SEAT. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Riff and Repartee & & & &
Rob Tapper, director of jazz studies at Eastern Washington University, has taken on another position. That is director and jack-of-all-trades of the second annual & & JAZZ DIALOGUE at EWU & & , a three-day, three-night jazz festival that is part instruction and part performance. Instructional clinics featuring high profile professional musicians fill the days, and sweet, swinging tunes enrich each night, beginning at 8 pm, when the thinking caps come off and the masters take to the stage.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to do this every year," says Tapper. "It's about education. It's not about awards or competition. It's about bringing in people that know what's going on in the world of music and education and jazz, bringing them here so our guys and local schools and the community can be around top musicians and have an opportunity to learn from them."
While primarily geared to music and education majors, the festival is really for everyone with a love of great music. And great music means great performers. Guest artists at this year's dialogue include vocalist Nancy King, Glenn Moore and saxophonist Rob Scheps (on Thursday night), saxophonist Dave Pietro (on Friday night) and bassist Chuck Bergeron and trumpeter Brian Lynch (on Saturday night).
"We lined it up so that each night there will be a big thing," says Tapper. The guest artist performs each evening. And as far as our student groups go, the Eastern vocal jazz group performs Thursday night and the jazz ensemble performs on Friday night. The student groups that come in from the high schools and the middle schools will perform in a student ensemble concert Saturday afternoon -- after they've been worked on by the guest stars.
In addition to the big stars and student groups, the concerts will also feature appearances by such fine local ensembles as the Kenny Harkins Jazz Organ Project on Friday night and Big Band Northwest featuring Bruce Diehl on Saturday night.
With the recent closure of Hobart's, Spokane's only full-time jazz club, it's safe to say that the local jazz scene is in a state of relative limbo right now.
"It's really kind of a drag," laments Tapper. "Last year, we were affiliated with Hobart's. People that played here on Thursday night played Hobart's on Friday night, and we had a big jam session there on Saturday night after the whole thing. Hopefully, these kinds of things [the jazz dialogue] will just create more interest, more people realizing that we really need a club like that in Spokane."
As far as what happened to Hobart's and ways to foster the local jazz scene, Tapper has a few ideas. After almost a year, why is there still no jazz club in Spokane?
"I think there's at least two or three pieces to that puzzle. The biggest thing is they just need someone to do it, to manage it, to keep it on track, to make the calls. And for something like that to survive, you need a certain commitment financially, either from where it's housed or from somewhere else. If you don't have that commitment, if everything is working on the level of just struggling to break even, then it really makes it challenging. With the jazz crowd right now, you're not talking about filling up the Spokane Arena, you know. It's kind of a Catch-22 because you have to have the place that attracts a crowd to attract a crowd."
There are people out there who want to experience live jazz music. They all seem to be kind of holding their breath, hoping for something to break. And you can bet Tapper is one of them.
"Oh yeah, every day, man. For myself, I need that."
& & & lt;i & Jazz Dialogue 2000 takes place at EWU's Music Recital Hall Thursday, Nov. 16, through Saturday, Nov. 18. The EWU Vocal Jazz Ensemble plays with Nancy King and the Rob Scheps Trio on Nov. 16 at 8 pm. The Kenny Harkins Jazz Organ Project, Dave Pietro and the EWU Jazz Ensemble perform Nov. 17 at 8 pm, and the Chuck Bergeron Trio with Brian Lynch, Big Band Northwest and Bruce Diehl are featured on Nov. 18 at 8 pm. Tickets for each night's performance: $7; $5, for students. Call: 359-7073. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
& & Minnesota Musings & & & &
Minneapolis is a long ways away in coffeehouse circuit terms. While most caf & eacute; troubadours hail from down the street, across town or at the very farthest away, Colville, occasionally we get some new talent fresh from the interstate in town. Tonight at the Shop, you'll get a chance to sample the musical wares of & & JUSTIN ROTH AND CHRIS CUNNINGHAM & & .
Roth comes to the chilly Inland Northwest from an equally Nordic climate -- Minneapolis. Roth recorded his first CD, Up Until Now, while attending the University of Minnesota in Duluth and has opened for David Wilcox, Martin Sexton, Storyhill, Peter Mayer, and Billy McLaughlin. He has also tried his hand at booking, promoting and management -- experiences that serve him well as he currently tours in support of his second album, In Between.
If you're looking to warm up an early winter's evening, the songs on In Between are both introspective and slightly cozy. Roth's neo-folk guitar stylings, combined with pensive lyrics and Roth's seasoned voice, shine on songs like "Ones to Hold On To" and "Riverside." "This Charming Town," with its refrain of "In this beautiful city, this charming town/This beautiful city, I can't wait to get out," reminds us that we're not the only ones that wonder if our city is ever going to wake up and see its potential.
Not content to merely show up and play, Roth has been known to invite the audience to write lyrics during his set, which he works into a full song for the end of the show. He'll also be joined at the Shop by Chris Cunningham, whose Montana band Sixth Sense records on the indie Minneapolis label Peppermint. Cunningham's folk-country sound is well matched by a voice that at times evokes the mellow timbre of Willie Nelson. If you've never been up to the Shop in the evenings before, tonight would be the night to go -- this is sure to be one of the best coffeehouse performances this winter. & & -- Sheri Boggs & &
& & & lt;i & Justin Roth and Chris Cunningham play at the Shop, 924 S. Perry, on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 pm. Cover: $6; Call: 534-1647. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &