Sunday, March 27, 2016

Big Mystery

The where and when of Big Wes Turner can sometimes be hard to pin down (not to mention the who, what, and why). It doesn’t help when your primary correspondent is hijacked and locked away in a sweltering Central American hell hole (see photo). All I can safely tell you about that experience is this. I escaped.

Rest easy. I am fine. No cuts, bruises, no discomforting intenstinal disorders, no buried bodies. The only noticeable damage was to my bank account. Nuff said.

Now that we’re back and on track, it can be told. Big Wes Turner’s Trio missed their regular Thursday night at the Essen Haus. Not once, but twice! First on the first Thursday of March (due to illness), and again due to Saint Patrick. (Yup, March 17 fell on the third Thursday, but not having more than a handful of Irish dittys in our repertoire, the Trio was passed over for trad Irish entertainment that evening.) Slainte!

After my own sojourn to the North (see Coming Up! below), Big Wes Turner's Trio is back at the Essen Haus on Thursday, March 31 AND Thursday, April 7. Come on down. Guitarist Gary Hendrickson is still out nursing a knee, but Chicago guitar stalwart (and Grammy winner!) Billy Flynn fills in.

Blues? Oh yeah! But that’s not all Billy has in his trick bag. He loves to pull out surf-style guitar instrumentals and even some kitschy takes on 60s Pop standards. All that, and BEER!

Gary Hendrickson returns (Hooray!) on Friday, April 8 at the Rockdale Bar & Grill. Come for the fish fry, stay for the music and dancing.

Coming Up!
Wednesday, March 30, Tom plays Wags Wednesdays at The Wheelhouse in Waupaca with Tony Wagner, Joe Fittante and Jim Prideaux of Otis and The Alligators, and Steve Cooper of WiFEE and the HUZzband. 8 pm
Thursday, March 31, Big Wes Turner’s Trio (with Billy Flynn) at The Essen Haus. 8:30 pm
Thursday, April 7, Big Wes Turner’s Trio (with Billy Flynn) at The Essen Haus. 8:30 pm
Friday, April 8, Big Wes Turner’s Trio (Welcome back, Gary!) at The Rockdale Bar & Grill. 7 pm

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

To Play Or Not To Play

The Isthmus club listings may say “Big Wes Turner’s Trio at The Essen Haus!” this Thursday, but it is not to be. Our resident guitar magician Gary Hendrickson blew out a knee. Ouch! Last minute moves to find a substitute came up short. So come Thursday, whomsoever is making music at the Essen Haus, won’t be the Big Wes boys.

We’re not sure how long it will take to Gary back on his feet, but luckily, Grammy-winning guitarist Billy Flynn (so awarded for his work on the Cadillac Records movie soundtrack) will be filling in at The Essen Haus on March 31 and April 7. Billy is a longstanding star of the Chicago blues scene, but don’t be surprised to hear him pull out his repertoire of Surf Guitar instrumentals.

In other news, Big Wes drummer Rick Becker will be performing for the monthly Mazomanie Music Conservancy concert on Friday, March 4. It’s an organization dedicated to enjoying food, drink, good company, and appreciating live music inside an old church in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. If you’re in the area, check it out.

Big Wes bassist Tom McCarty will be playing at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, along with Frankie Lee (harmonica) and Mel Ford (guitar). You can come for the beer and stay for the music, or the other way around, or just come for the beer. Proprietor Rob Larson has made Tyranena a great showcase for Wisconsin roots music, and that would be reason enough to show up, but it needn’t. Tom testifies that Tyranena’s  beers are as good as any in the state (he confesses to a particular partiality for Rocky’s Revenge bourbon barrel-aged brown ale).

Next day, Sunday, March 6, the same three musicians will be joined by drummer extraordinaire Mark Haines (see Williamson Magnetic Recording Company) to become The Maintainers, a not-so missing link to the Madison blues scene of the 70s and 80s. The music starts at 6 pm at TheHarmony Bar and Grill.

On Wednesday, March 9, Tom journeys up to Waupaca and The Wheelhouse to join drummer and host Tony Wagner (formerly of Milwaukee Bucks house band, Street Life), guitarist Perry Weber (of Perry Weber & the DeVilles, and The Jimmys), and keyboardist Larry Byrne (of the amazing Manitowoc band Grease and longtime member of Doctor Bop & The Headliners).

March 3, Big Wes Turner’s Trio at The Essen Haus. 8:30 pm
March 5, The Frankie Lee Trio (with Mel Ford) at Tyranena Brewing. 7 pm
March 6, The Maintainers at The Harmony Bar and Grill. 3 pm
March 9, Wags Wednesdays at The Wheelhouse (Waupaca) with Tony Wagner, Perry Weber, and Larry “Third Degree” Byrne
Mary 31, The Essen Haus
April 7, The Essen Haus