Monday, April 14, 2008

When The Levee Breaks...

Since I'm on a road trip jag, I'll continue on with the thread or whatever bloggers call it when staying with a particular topic. By the way, I hate this reverse chronology voodoo format. I'll deal with it though--on with the tale (oh, Led Zeppelin didn't create the title above, Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy sang about the Mississippi River levee breaking and washing most of the Delta's inhabitants away--not exactly a threat in jolly old England).

Last summer I came up with the perfect road trip for my son and I to take together just to get out of Texas for a change. Living Blues and Blues Revue magazine always run an issue listing the major blues festivals around the world, so I thought that I would pick one out and John and I would take off. The festival that held the most promise to me would be the one that featured the most harmonica players (I'll get around to my blues harp history at some point--I keep getting distracted with these other sidebars). The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, held in Davenport, Iowa, seemed to fit the bill perfectly. West Coast harmonica ace, Mark Hummel, was bringing his traveling "Blues Harp Blowout", featuring James Harman and Paul Oscher, to town, Little Charlie and the Nightcats with Rick Estrin was headlining one night, my newest discovery Watermelon Slim would be in from Oklahoma, Oscher (Muddy Waters' first white harpman) was scheduled to conduct a work shop along with one of the most innovative young harpguns in the country, Jason Ricci. Oh, that was just the bands with harmonica players. Bob Margolin was bringing in the legendary Nappy Brown, Robert Randolph was bringing his family, and there was literally many more that I'm forgetting about.

I was pumped and began to plot the trip out and book rooms along the route. I got us a room at the Howard Johnson that was within walking distance of the festival site. We were going to stay one night on the road and get into Davenport about 2pm Friday of the three day festival. On the return trip we had plans to stay a couple of nights in the Ozark Mountains in what appeared to be a great lake cabin.

The topper was that I had written to the festival public relations office and convinced them that my credentials were worthy of press passes for my son and myself. They agreed and supplied the passes and VIP backstage amenities. Wow! This would be one fine trip--and then it continued to do the first week of July what it had been doing most of June in Texas. RAIN, THUNDERSTORMS, TORNADOES, HAIL, FLOODS--stood between me and Iowa. I held out until the day that we planned on leaving and saw that the risk was greater than I was willing to subject my son to and I cancelled. Almost went alone, but didn't. It was a GREAT idea and it was a blast planning the details. I don't see as good of a harp-centric festival on the horizon this year, but maybe we'll find something that we can get into.

No comments: