Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Return of Jimmy Thackery to Wilebski’s: the Messiah Comes Again

During the 1980’s and 90’s, the Blues Saloon f/k/a Wilebski’s was my second home (along with the Cabooze, the Union Bar, First Ave, Whiskey Junction, Artist Quarter, Emporium of Jazz, 400 Club, the Viking and countless other Twin Cities live music venues). And just like my home there was the constant blare of great blues, soul and r n’ b music, the beer and bourbon flowed freely and back then you could smoke, which gave the times a kind of bluish grey (not purple) haze.

Some of my most memorable, cherished and forgotten music related moments went down in and around the corner of Western and Thomas in the beautifully run down Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul.

From its earliest inception as Wilebski’s, its rise in prominence thanks to booking the legends of blues and soul, both current and past, its locale for the filming of Survivors, a tribute to an eclectic mix of the greats and undeserved, lesser-known greats of blues, soul and r n’ b music; to its sporadic closings at the hands of the revenuers; to its rebirth and golden age as the Blues Saloon with the greatest booking agent this area has ever and will ever see (sorry Sue McClean and Charlie Campbell), the incomparable Mikki Mulvihilll; this humble, second floor, former union hall was the envy of every juke joint and roadhouse in America. Accolades such as Rolling Stone Magazine’s nightclub of the year came and went, like water down a duck’s back until one day it was no more.

Now many years later, after trying everything from lesbianism to Asian, Wilebski’s has come back home. So how better to reacquaint ones self to one of the truly legendary live music venues in mid-America than to celebrate its return to blues music with this genre’s (or any genre for that matter) guitar legend Jimmy Thackery this Saturday, August 14th.

Anyone who knows me knows of my love and affection for this man’s music. From his early days as guitarist for the greatest four piece live blues/rock band in the history of American music, the Nighthawks, to his many side projects like the Assassins, the Jamaican sessions with John Mooney, to his power trio the Drivers, as well as, many solo projects, Jimmy Thackery has maintained an integrity to the music surpassed by very few artists. A master of dynamics, the greatest, cleanest tone in the business and sculptor of sound that would put Rodin to shame, Jimmy Thackery is simply a joy to watch and listen to perform.

A true maverick and fiercely independent, sometimes to the point of being Faulkneresque, Jimmy Thackery is deserving of the world class stature that he is held in among his peers. I’ll never forget the night his band the Assassins opened for B.B. King at the Wax Museum in Washington, D.C. and after an incredible encore of dueling solos, the King knelt at Thackery’s feet and offered him the greatest tribute he could, Lucille. But don’t believe a biased old fool like me, come out and see a real guitar genius this Saturday and welcome back the very best in blues to Frogtown.

Keeping His Eye on the Ball

It was reported this morning that Tiger Woods was putting in extra practice in an attempt to bolster his game in preparation for this weekend's PGA Tournament. It was further reported that Tiger has gone to a rather unusual, at least for a player of his stature, practice technique of having his caddy hold a club pressed against his head to keep his head still through his swing. Too bad Tiger did not think of this earlier, especially when he was hitting the bars.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dayton: Head and Shoulders Above His Fellow DFL Primates

In about twenty minutes I will join tens of thousands of other Minnesota Democrats in voting for Mark Dayton as our next governor. While this is only the DFL primary, the winner today will in fact be Minnesota's next Governor, thus ending a dry spell for Democrats dating back to the days of Governor Goofy Rudy Perpich, who no longer looks like a Disney character, especially when compared to the empty suit the Republicans are running, the self-imploding buffoon Tom Emmer.

Am I fired up for Dayton? That's like getting fired up over soup for dinner. What's my alternative? Margaret Anderson Kelliher? Matt Entenza? Come on, they're just baby chimps swingin' in the tree limbs (see picture on right) compared to the silver-back, knuckle draggin', DFL Primate Dayton.

In these dark times all I want, what the state desperately needs, is someone who tells the truth, is competent and has a plan. While Dayton may be a mouth breather, to quote the words of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, "Just Win Baby!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Target Field: Sweet Dreams or Field Named for Bigots

I was lucky enough to win a drawing for a couple of tickets to last Sunday's Twins game. Better yet, the tickets were for one of the stadium's luxurious corporate suites. As my beautiful and bright daughter got passed over for last year's final regular season Twin's game and the fact that she leaves for London in less than a month to study abroad for her degree in finance, she got the nod over her brother.

I must say that the experience was the most pleasurable one I have ever had at a baseball game in terms of creature comforts. The new Target Field is a perfect example of why the best art, or architecture for that matter, is not the product of a committee but rather is the fruition of a dream from an individual.

From the moment you step into the stadium, the suite dwellers are treated to the separate and definitely unequal world of the Richistans. From the attentive staff, who whisked us up to the suite level on the human operated elevators to the wide corridors in neutral tones bathed in natural light from the many windows, one would think he or she were in the toney, corporate world of an upscale office tower. But fortunately no such luck because when you finally get to your suite, right behind and slightly to the left of home plate, you realize for the first time that you are at a baseball stadium.

In fact, the only time you ever see the great unwashed (our term for the regular ticket holders) is in your peripheral vision when you are in a suite looking out at the field. I found this to be a little more than ironic, but rather emblematic for our times. The rich have become so grotesquely bloated and used to their separate and superior treatment, the rest of their fellow country men and women have been relegated to their peripheral vision, a mere afterthought.

So it is with that notion in mind that I awoke last Monday morning to reports emanating from my clock radio concerning the fall out for Minnesota corporate giants Best Buy and Target and their tone deaf, six figure contributions to some right wing, Tom Emmer-supported, Defense of Marriage organization whose only reason for being is to promote their bigoted and degrading belief that their version of marriage is superior to others. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised by this but it just somehow tarnished the really good impression I had a mere 24 hours earlier which went from Sweet Dreams to a Field Named for Bigots.