Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bobby Parker Part 1

What follows is part one of an interview we did with blues guitarist Bobby Parker, who will be headlining the College Park Blues Festival, scheduled for 7 p.m. on November 6 at Ritchie Coliseum at Route 1 and Rossborough Drive in College Park. The festival is being held by the D.C. Blues Society to raise money for Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark and his Blues Allstars to travel to Memphis to compete in this year’s International Blues Challenge. Clark’s band will also perform at the festival.
Parker has lived in the Washington D.C area since the early 1960’s, when he stayed after playing a gig there one night with the Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams band.
He gave us so much good stuff that we decided to divide the interview into two parts. In part one he talks about how he got into music, about becoming Bo Diddley’s guitar player and about playing The Ed Sullivan Show, a television program as popular with 1960’s audiences as American Idol is with today’s.
BBP: Tell me how you started out in music. What I heard was that your father had a vending machine business. You were working with him and it kind of gave you a chance to visit various night clubs where they were playing blues.
Parker: You’re right on target. I don’t know where you read that but it’s true. I was 12 or 13 years old and my dad, he had an arcade on the beach down from L.A., Long Beach. And he had photo machines and pinballs, a bunch of machines, photographs and a bunch of other stuff. But anyway he used to tell me, he said “on Saturday when school is out I want you to hang with me to help service my machines.” So I agreed. I didn’t want to do it but you know kids have a lot of things they want to do. I said “okay I’ll be ready.” He said “we’re leaving about nine in the morning.” And I said “Okay.” So we traveled all over L.A. County and post offices and places of business, you know where they had all of these machines. And so around noon or one o’clock I started seeing a lot of musicians rehearsing in there. Professional blues and jazz artists, you know? And I said, “Wow man, this is cool.” So all day long until maybe rush hour in the evening we were hitting a lot of night clubs, putting in machines and all of that stuff. Of course he had other people helping him. Really, he wanted me to learn the business. So I became very interested when I started seeing all of these great musicians rehearsing, doing their stuff in the afternoon. So I never had a problem going with him again because it was on, man.
BBP: Before this happened did you have an interest in music. I mean, were you listening to records? I understand your father had a record collection.
Parker: Well my father was—I’ll tell you when all of this music stuff was just given to me honestly because he was a blues player. We’re all from Louisiana. I came up from Lafayette, Louisiana to California when I was about seven years old, something like that maybe. And my mother was a gospel singer and she was in church situations. She really could sing. She sang in the choir and those little small groups, you know. Then my dad, he was a honky-tonk piano player and he had a little accordion and we kind of laughed in those days because all that good music turned into what they call zydeco.
BBP: Ah! Okay.
Parker: So it was all kind of given to me by genetics.
BBP: So your father was actually playing zydeco before it was called zydeco?
Parker: Yeah. They didn’t know what to call that, man. It’s just that we were from Louisiana, Lafayette Louisiana. We just did what we did. And I was interested in guitars and stuff like that but—piano too. I play piano and funky organ and stuff like that.
BBP: Right.
Parker: He was a master of that. But he only did it on Sunday afternoon or when there was a holiday where we could sit around to jam and laugh it up and maybe whatever else. His brother loved blues and jazz too. And his name was Charlie, and my uncle Charlie used to come over there and join us and shake a tambourine and he’d hit on the piano and my dad would get on the accordion and all that stuff, you know. And then I’d see my mom Sunday morning at these church radio shows. That really got to me: she was great, you know.
BBP: Did any of these musicians you saw at the clubs you were servicing, did they take you aside and talk to you and show you things?
Parker: Not really. Not really. I didn’t have time to really meet those people. Those people were really into their set-up if they had to play that night, you know. And you know just like today they were bringing in their gear, setting up and checking everything, making sure it was going to work for the night. And then sometimes they wouldn’t rehearse, they would just set up their gear and leave. But I did see them tuning up and playing a few licks and might play a song or something like that, you know.
BBP: Do you remember who they were, do you remember their names?
Parker: Lowell Fulson, Johnny Guitar Watson sometimes. To me he was a kid. They called him young John Watson.
BBP: Johnny Guitar Watson of “Real Motha For Ya” fame?
Parker: Yeah, um-hum. And Etta James and all of those cool people around….and playing and stuff like that. But we all went to school together. Etta and Johnny, they went to manual arts. And I went to manual arts too sometimes and then I changed and went to Dorsey High School. And that’s kind of where I kind of got my start because we were doing a school play. First of all I was in a talent show at the Johnny Otis show which is….I don’t know if you’re familiar with Johnny Otis from way back in the history. I used to have a little paper route when I was a kid 12 or 13 or 14 years old. It was an elderly guy on the street that just gave me a guitar. I used to stop and listen to him play and I jumped off and would hand him his newspaper in the evening. So he said “kid I like you, I know your daddy. You want to take this guitar down there and see if you can play some?” I said “wow would you do that?” He said “yeah, you go ahead on and take it down there and see what you can do with it.” So I took the guitar down there in a great big old acoustic box and I learned how to play a couple of blues songs. I went to the Johnny Otis show, they had a talent show Thursday night. And there was a song, a real hard basic tune by Lowell Fulson, “Reconsider Me,” and I learned that. And I went down there and got on the talent show and the next thing you know I won it for six weeks straight.
BBP: How old were you?
Parker: I was about 13 or 14, something like that. Going on 15. It was a real inspiration for me because I didn’t know but one or two songs.
BBP: And you played one of those songs and you won…
Parker: Oh yeah, uh huh.
BBP: I understand that your first guitar was a Sears Roebuck Harmony? Was it the guitar the man gave you or ..
Parker: No, that was an acoustic box. I had got an electric guitar from Sears Roebuck and stringed it up and I really learned fast on that. And then when I was 16, my dad took me to the first Fender guitar factory. Which wasn’t a factory, it was just a greasy old car garage where they fix cars.
BBP: Really?
Parker: Grease spots on the floor and spare engines on the sides of the walls and all that kind of stuff. But they were fixing guitars in there. And I had heard from the kids in school, “say man, this is a place where a new guitar company is coming up.” So my father took me over there one day and I watched them make me a Fender Strat right in front of me. And that was one of the first Fender Strats ever made, man. And a lot of people I tell that story to, they laugh at me, say “you crazy.” I say “It’s true, really true.”
BBP: They made it right in front of your eyes?
Parker: Yeah, they put it together. If that thing were around today it would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I got to be a Fender champion. I mean, after a year or two, I had maybe eight or ten Fender guitars. And I got really good at it. So the Charms, Otis Williams and the Charms saw me in a school play and that’s how I got discovered into the music business. They came back stage and said ‘Man you were great out there with that kid show, you know.” Of course I was nothing but a kid either. Otis Williams and the Charms were something like the Jackson 5. Just a bunch of kids. They could play and sing their ass off. So they asked me, would I like to join it. I said “Whoa, man, you’re right on time.” Because the school kids were kind of getting harassed, kind of jumped on by kid gangs, you know going to school, so I wanted to get away from there.
BBP: How old were you about this time, still about 16 years old?
Parker: Yeah, something like that. Sixteen, going on 17.
BBP: And did you go touring with the Charms?
Parker: I sure did. I left L.A.—my parents thought I was going to school one day. I carried the guitar to school with me anyway and all of those books and stuff and I met the bus. I got on the bus—I felt kind of lonely—but I got on with those guys and within two or three days it was like a family. A musical family. And my parents were worried. They thought I’d been kidnapped or something, you know. And the manager, he called back within four or five or six days, and he said “Robert Junior is alright. He’s on this show here with us and that’s what he wants to do.” And my parents were going to get the guy in trouble and all of that stuff. And then I told them that’s what I want to do. And it was on, we were playing all over the country.
BBP: I do remember hearing that your parents were very upset with you because at the time you had just finished the eleventh grade and they wanted you to finish school.
Parker: Absolutely. You know they wanted me to finish up, go to college all that stuff, you know. Normal stuff, you know. But man, I got struck by lightning: blues, you know. And it didn’t take me long to get into it, and after about a year-and-a-half of Otis Williams and the Charms I met Bo Diddley. And man, he was with Chess and Checker records and everybody who was anybody in blues was there. Howlin Wolf, Muddy, Jimmy Reed, just a bunch of people, Little Walter, everybody was talking and going in and out of Chess and Checker Records every day. I must have been about 17, going on 18 years old. And man it was amazing.
BBP: What were some of these people like? I mean I saw the movie “Cadillac Records.” Was that accurate?

Parker: No. It was contrived. Believe me. Um, Beyonce Knowles did a great job. It really enhanced her career, you know. She’s a nice, good-looking gal and all that, but –even Etta James herself didn’t quite like her portrayal of her. Because Etta James…Beyonce’s portrayal of Etta James was too clean, man. ‘Cause Etta was, you know, she had hot records then, you know, that song “At Last?”
BBP: Yeah
Parker: That was a big hit, man. But she was kind of into a lot of chemicals. And Beyonce was a little too clean an artist. I mean the way it looked on screen. But the one thing it did, it opened the eyes of millions of kids a year-and-a-half ago. They say “man we saw that movie. Beyonce was in it man! And we started liking blues.” I said you dumb motherf—I said, “well you know it’s cool”-Anyway, but it gave them an insight into what blues and those original guys, what they were about. So I’ve been trying to get a movie made on my life. Because I was there when all of these people, I mean I was in Fats Domino band. That was when I was a teen-ager too. I was bass for the Fats Domino group. And all of these shows that went out every year. Then I joined the (saxophonist) Paul Hucklebuck (Williams) orchestra, which was about 18 cats in one band playing blues, man. It was real amazing.

BBP: How did you meet Hucklebuck?
Parker: Well, just being on a lot of shows. He wanted me to be on the show with him and I could play and sing really well. And join his big orchestra, man. And then we started going out every year with what they called the Top Ten and Fifteen Revue. And that’s where I met Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and what’s his name, in that plane that went down, man. That was a sad thing.
BBP: Richie Valens?
Parker: Richie Valens. Fats Domino was on this show and Chuck Berry and all of those people and….
BBP: What were those guys like? What was Chuck Berry like?
Parker: He was wild, man. Good player, and kids loved him, man. He was sort of like—black cowboy, you know. And he did a funny little walk like he was riding a horse with a guitar.
BBP: You mean that “duckwalk” where he sticks his leg out in front and he kind of hops along?
Parker: Back in those days, it was like he was going to ride a horse. Scooting across the stage, kids were just crazy about him. But that thing would go out every year and we would run a lot of shows, man. Ed Sullivan show. All that. In those days he was the big time, Ed Sullivan.
BBP: What was Bo Diddley like? I understand that you were on the Ed Sullivan show with him.
Parker: A funny thing happened. Bo got superbig all over the country and the show comes on Sunday afternoon and the biggest song in the nation wasn’t Bo Diddley, it was “Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get?” So Ed Sullivan says “Bo Diddley” I want you to sing “Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get.” Bo looked at me and said “the man thinks I’m crazy.” He thinks he’s crazy because he asked him to do “Sixteen Tons,” which is a country song. He wanted to sing his song, “Bo Diddley.” So he got mad. He got angry and next thing you know we were on. The show started, and they had big signs up because Bo Diddley couldn’t see that well, he had kind of horn-rimmed glasses. He’s looking past the cameras, and trying to look at those lyrics, “Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get?” He got, maybe, thirty seconds into it, and he says, “Oh shoot, forget about it.” He went on and did “Bo Diddley” anyway. And it was a huge success. Smash for him, you know. He said a few lines of “Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get” but afterwards, Ed Sullivan and his crew were so mad with him, he said “You’ll never be on television, you’ll never”—that was just a hoax. He got bigger than ever.
BBP: Wow. What a story. And what was it like being on national television like that? At the time being a young man, and all?
Parker: Yeah. It was really nice because, the thing about show business man, I’m just going to tell you straight up man, nowadays it’s just too much going on, man. It’s just too many dogs in the fight.
BBP: What do you mean?
Parker: Everybody and their mama and family wants to do this, whether they know how to do it, or not. But in those days there weren’t that many R and B and blues people. But basically man, way back in the fifties and I’ll be straight up with you, man, racism was rampant. It was just crazy. Black artists, we had nowhere to dress, we had nowhere to eat. It was just terrible, man, you know. But we did this thing anyway, you know. Running all over the country and doing the show. When we hooked up with the Paul Hucklebuck band and they were on with all of those white artists, we got a better break, you know.
BBP: What do you mean a better break?
Parker: Well, we were on stages, big time stages and stuff. The only place black artists—Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, and all of us, thousands of us could play—were tobacco warehouses.
BBP: You mean to actually play, have concerts?
Parker: We played gigs, we played gigs all over North Carolina, South Carolina, you know, the cigarette belt. And they’d move stuff aside and they’d have hundreds of thousands of people in there watching our shows.
BBP: Wow.
Parker: Tobacco warehouses. You know, where they auction tobacco. You know (Simulates an auctioneer trilling his tongue) and all of that junk. We heard a lot of that, just before dark we’d come in there and bring in our gear and be up until two o’clock in the morning. We just…great shows, man. But people had no idea. And you know, the young white kids outside wanted to get in there so bad, they would turn over cars and start fires to let them in there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Buddy Guy: Stayin' Around a Little Longer

I remember years ago, at his Chicago night club, I asked Buddy Guy for his autograph. He grabbed a cocktail napkin from the bar, signed it, and handed to me.
Since then, our paths have crossed frequently, usually with him on stage and me in the audience. One time I caught him at the Pocono Blues Festival. And I was at the Chesapeake Blues Festival one year when a powerful lightning storm forced him to stop in mid-performance — ironically just as he was singing “Feels Like Rain.”
I have to admit, every time I see 74-year-old Buddy Guy, it’s like looking at a piece of living musical history. Here is a man who hung out with Freddie King, Muddy Waters and Magic Sam and who inspired Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
No wonder that I tried to interview Guy after catching his show last week at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. There were all kinds of things I wanted to know. What did Muddy teach him all those years ago? Did Hendrix really sit in on one of his concerts as reportedly shown in footage from Martin Scorsese’s blues documentary “Lightning in a Bottle?” Did the late Chicago record company executive Leonard Chess really object when Guy soloed loud?
I also wanted to know about his new album, “Living Proof,” which went on sale Tuesday. I was particularly curious about “Stay Around a Little Longer,” Guy’s new single with B.B. King. Guy and King are arguably the only blues performers in the world who enjoy rock star status, and hearing them together would naturally make any hardcore fan like me curious.
I also was curious about Guy’s relationship with Carlos Santana, who also guest stars on the new CD and who played on Guy’s 2005 album, Bring ‘Em In.
But damn it, I couldn’t catch up with him that night. Beldon’s Blues Point—and I’m not saying this sarcastically, just as fact—is probably not a large enough publication for him to go out of his way for.
Still, anyone attending one of his shows could probably gather almost the same amount of material as through a face-to-face interview, because a Buddy Guy concert is a performance and a music history lesson rolled into one.
It’s also a comedy show, as Guy delivers one-liners with timing that would make Richard Pryor proud.
“How many pictures you got?” he said to one fan who was snapping away on a camera phone. The guitarist then revealed that, before camera phones, he never ate cheese. “Now every time I see someone coming at me with the phone I start hollering cheese! “ he said with an ear-to-ear smile.
Later, apparently flustered about something during a rendition of “Meet Me with Your Black Drawers on,” he grumbled “I didn’t write this fuckin’ song!” The audience, which had suffered its own frustrations as it tried to sing along, laughed.
Guy’s discussion of musical history was a show-and-tell session where he used his guitar to show the styles of contemporaries Clapton, John Lee Hooker, and Hendrix, the last of whom he acknowledged by playing with his teeth.
Couched in his message was a friendly but definite jab at White America for overwhelmingly ignoring Waters and other blues greats in the days before British rock bands like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Cream began recognizing them.
“The Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger, they were trying to get on the television show “Shindig” And they were trying to get them to play and they said ‘Okay, we’ll agree to play if you let us bring on Muddy Waters,’” Guy said. “And white America said ‘who in the hell is that?’ And Mick got offended. He said: ‘You don’t know who Muddy Waters is and we named ourselves after one of his famous records, which is called Rolling Stone?”
Ardent Buddy Guy fans, the predominately white audience either didn’t catch the jab, ignored it—or were so caught up in the music that they didn’t care.
But earlier in the show, one fan had cared about something else: a Buddy Guy concert at Constitution Hall last year that was cancelled due to snow.
When the man shouted his complaint to the stage, Guy didn’t miss a beat. “That wasn’t my fault,” He said, tongue-in-cheekly.The audience erupted in laughter.
Maybe because B.B. wasn’t with him, Guy didn’t play “Stay Around a Little Longer.” But he did comment on it after someone from the audience yelled out that they wanted to hear it. “Let me stay and thank the Lord for letting me stay around a little longer,” he said.
I hope Buddy does stay around a little longer. The blues needs him. And so do we.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homemade Jamz here!

With instruments made from car parts, the Homemade Jamz blues band captures their audiences’ attention before even playing a note. Wielded respectively by 18-year-old Ryan Perry and his 16-year-old brother Kyle, the guitar and bass constructed from mufflers and exhaust systems by father Renauld look more like ray-guns from “Star Trek,” “Lost in Space” or some other 60’s sci-fi series than instruments for playing the blues. But play the blues they do.
The group, which also features 12-year-old sister Taya on the drums, formed after Ryan found a Stratocaster guitar owned by his father. Renauld Perry was in the military at the time, and the family was stationed in Germany.
The spark the discovery ignited stayed with Ryan as the family moved to Tupelo, Mississippi. One by one, the rest of the Perry children fell under the spell of the blues and “Homemade Jamz” was born.
The Perrys drew attention from CBS, which aired a story about them on its "Sunday Morning" news show.
In 2007, they became the youngest musicians to ever compete in an International Blues Challenge, winning second place. When it recorded its first album, Pay Me No Mind, in 2008, Homemade Jamz set another precedent by becoming the youngest blues group to sign with a major record label, NorthernBlues Music.
With sophomore outing I Got Blues for You released last year, Homemade Jamz continues to make its mark on the blues scene, playing such venues as the Poconos Blues Festival. In the following interview they discuss playing with family vs. with strangers and their upcoming plans for a third album, among other things:
BBP: Tell me about these instruments you guys are playing because I’ve never seen instruments like that before.
Ryan: Oh man, yeah, they’re something else and they’re made from car mufflers and my dad was the mastermind behind the whole thing. And he built them and they work and they sound really good. Ever since the first time I played it. I never looked back, the crowd loves them every time, and that’s what we do.
BBP: How’d you guys get started?
Ryan: Well we started when we were all in Germany. My dad was in the military and when I was about seven, I found my dad’s old Stratocaster and I learned—just basically picked it up, (learned) how to play it, just like that, and we went to the stage. I kept on growing with my talent, and my brother came shortly behind me with the bass guitar, and my sister shortly after that, hopped up on drums, and there it was—Homemade Jamz!
BBP: (To Kyle) How easy was it for you to learn the bass?
Kyle: It was actually pretty easy, because before that, I tried keyboard and guitar, and fiddling around with guitar got me familiar with the neck and hitting the same strings and all that. Learning bass was pretty simple for me.
BBP: Is it easy playing with your family? I mean you guys must have squabbles as a family from time to time. Does that ever filter into your playing?
Ryan: Actually, it’s better playing with my family than it would be some strangers, cause if we do have any kind of disagreement we can work it out as family. And I think it’s ten times better than just having other people as band mates.
BBP: Who are some of your musical influences?
Ryan: When I first got into it, it was John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughn and when we went to the stage, I started listening to B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix. And now I’m going way back with Robert Johnson, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough. Every year I have a new influence and it keeps growing and growing.
BBP: (To Kyle): How about you on bass?
Kyle: Oh, basically everything Ryan said. We grew up to the exact same people at the exact same time, so…
BBP: And as a band, who do you kind of model yourselves after?
Ryan: Well for me it would be the Campbell brothers…the Campbell Brothers are an amazing gospel blues band and they’re just an amazing band. Another band would be Buckwheat Zydeco and also Lightening Malcolm and Cedric Burnside, Two Man Wrecking Crew. And those three are one of my tops.

BBP: Tell me about this drummer situation. How long have you guys been together? And what about your first drummer?
Ryan: When we first started out we had a drummer for about—a little bit less than a year. This was, I think when I was twelve, my brother was ten, and I think our drummer was 14 at the time. And we had him for a little less than a year. And we let him go one day and we were practicing, just me and my brother, and one day our sister asked to get behind the drums and we told her “no” she was going to ruin the drums, ruin the music. But our mom forced us to let her play and she was amazing. So at dinner we asked her “Hey you want to be our drummer?” And so she was with us ever since.
BBP: So how did the first album come about?
Ryan: Well, the first album came about when we won second place at the International Blues Challenge in 2007.And we beat out 90—I guess 96, I think out of the 97 bands. And we got picked up by Northern Blues Music out of Canada and there you know within the next year we were recording our first album.
BBP: Was the concept behind the second album different from the first?
Ryan: Well, we basically tried the go the same route with this second one. But…we’re working right now on our third album and we’re trying to go totally different than the first two. Hopefully it will work out really nice. It should be out by the end of this year.
BBP: And when you say totally different, what do you mean?
Ryan: I mean, you know, a different kind of blues, a different kind of feel. A more roots, a more—older, more original type of blues. We’re going to try to go way back on this one (laughs).
BBP: (to Taya) I saw you on drums. Your brother kind of told me the story of how you got into it. But what made you decide to want to play drums?
Taya: Umm, I really don’t know. I mean it came naturally because I had been playing tambourines so I had rhythm and stuff. So we picked up this drum set and I guess, I picked it up from there and that’s when I decided I wanted to become a drummer.
BBP: And how many hours did you have to practice each day to get that good at so young an age?
Taya: Usually we’ll practice one to two hours a day. Or sometimes we’ll practice twice a day. And then, uh, that’s about it.
BBP: What are your rehearsals like? How often do you rehearse and how do they go?
Kyle: We rehearse everyday for about an hour in the evening time, whenever we’re done working outside and all that, and rehearsals are kind of...
Ryan: Our rehearsals are a lot of fun. We just go run through our songs just to keep our minds fresh and we always try to work on some new material, see if we can come up with anything new and if we have any ideas we try to work on that. And just—you know we always try to learn something new every time.
BBP: One more question for the drummer. Who are some of your influences?
Taya: My number one drummer is Sheila E. I also like Cindy Blackman (jazz and rock drummer, played with Lenny Kravitz), Terry Lee Carrington (House drummer on old Arsenio Hall show, also played with Herbie Hancock), B.B.King’s drummer (Caleb Emphrey), he’s awesome, and that’s about it.
BBP: One more question and then I’m going to let you guys go. Most people your age are into hip-hop. Do you ever get flack from your friends about being into what they may see as old folk’s music?
Kyle: No, not as much as, you know, some people would think.
Ryan: We love the blues music and we try to get as many people as we can to at least understand the music and respect the genre of music. And you know, a lot of my friends do respect it. I’ve got a lot of great friends who love blues, and who listen to it with me. And when we were in public school (the two younger children are now homeschooled and Ryan has graduated and is now enrolled in on-line college) a lot of peers, not necessarily friends, would kind of wonder why we’re doing that and stuff like that. And I would try to explain it to them but some people just don’t quite get it. But for the most part all of our friends understand and respect what we’re trying to do, and it’s a great feeling.

European Relevant Directory - free online catalog of relevant and useful web sites of Europe. Free submit a site to web directory and link exchange.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nadine Rae: Gaining momentum like a slow locomotive.....

Taking the stage Monday for “Blue Monday,” the series of weekly blues performances held at Washington, D.C.’s Westminster Presbyterian Church, singer Nadine Rae showed fans and supporters that she is “gaining momentum” in her recovery from serious injuries she sustained in a car crash last December.
The three-hour concert, in which she appeared with saxophonist/keyboardist Deanna Bogart, was the latest in a series of performances and dates that have brought the respected blues and gospel singer back to the local music scene.
Rae had to stop performing after the accident, but has been playing at local clubs and festivals since May, when she shared the stage with singer Patty Reese at this year’s Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival.
"We opened for Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry and Chuck Berry started singing 'Nadine' to me," she said. "I got pictures of that! I'm looovin' that!"
In June, she opened for Bobby Parker and Chuck Brown when they played together in suburban Virginia. And in September she participated in a blues workshop held at the D.C. Blues Society's annual festival.
Since then, she has played the Greenbelt Blues Festival, the Eastport Democratic Club in Annapolis and the Old Bowie Towne Grill, among other places.
“I’m gaining momentum, you know, choo-choo-choo, like a slow locomotive,” she said.
Also joined on Monday by Michael Pryor on bass, John Bell on guitar, Andy Hamburger on drums, Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark on harmonica and David Ylvisaker on keyboards, Rae delivered renditions of “Mustang Sally,” “Nighttime is the Right Time,” and “At Last.”
Rae also performed “Heartbreak Savings Time,” a song written by former band mate Sam Miller. She will include the song on her next CD, she said, the music list for which is almost complete.
“It’s just a matter of when I go to the studio and start paying those men and women to be engineers and do the thing and get the musicians in there," she said of the project. “I already got lined up who's going to be in there with me. But I don’t want to tell it too quick, because then there’s nothing to look for.”
Rae was hurt after her car rolled over several times while she was in Anne Arundel County.
Her comeback has not been easy.
The medication she took after the accident created a fluid build-up around her heart, causing her to gain weight, she said. “It was to the extent that I had congestive heart failure,” she said. “So the bottom line was, I had to change my lifestyle. So now I’m dieting and I’m eating what I want, but it’s just watching what I eat and counting my calories and exercising.”
Though nothing in her performance Monday night reflected such a problem, Rae said she has trouble breathing. But her weight loss is improving her breathing, she said.
She said she may require more cosmetic surgery. Still, people tell her they “are amazed at the level of expertise” in the reconstructive surgery done so far, she said.
Many musicians have supported Rae through her recovery. Some, including Clark, have helped organize fund-raisers for her.
Musicians on Monday talked about how much they enjoy working with her. “I get a side view of her, so I always see her face, I see where she’s going, I see what she’s feeling” said Ylvisaker. “Then she looks over at me with these sort of demure little eyes, and sort of winks at me, sticks her tongue out at me or whatever and we have a blast on stage.”
Bogart, who enlisted Rae to back her up on Home Run Holiday, an album she produced that features holiday songs sung by former Baltimore Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, said the recovering singer called her a few weeks ago to ask if she would join the gig.
“I said ‘I’d love to, I’ll bring my horn, I’ll do whatever you want,” she said.