Sunday at the Leo: January 15 and 22, 2012

January 22

Performers this evening included Tom Triplett, Dos Blues (Jamon Zeiler and Dennis Henderson) and John Kogge and the Lonesome Strangers. In my opinion, pretty much any one of them could have held down the feature, so it was a good evening for music at the Leo.

Triplett plays some sweet finger-style guitar, including his own version of Dire Straits “The Sultan’s of Swing,” which included some riffs from other tunes, but I was out of the room at the time and did not hear them. (Apparently, this was my loss.)

Other songs included:

  • A swingin’ version of Red Foley’s Chattanooga Shoe-Shine Boy
  • An original, “I Just Want to  be Steve McQueen,” a song about Triplett’s desire to be “the coolest man you’ve ever seen.”
  • A cover of James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes”

An interesting thing in the Dos Blues set: Jamon, an excellent luthier who usually plays one of his own guitars, was playing a beat-up Kay. From what I could tell he liked the funky look and the sound – and who knows maybe he’d sold all of his own guitars.

At any rate, Jamon and Dennis have a good thing going, playing together nicely on tunes that included several Hank Williams songs and (as implied in the name of the group) several blues tunes.

During the set, Jamon explained he is in the process of a Hank Williams project, making the recordings his own performances at his home study. During this kind of process, Jamon said starts to get in the head of the songwriter, and getting into the head of Hank Williams is interesting.

As for Dennis, he talked at little about his youthful days when he was hanging around a club in Austin stealing licks from Lightnin’ Hopkins. That, also, was, interesting.

Dennis and Jamon are gigging around town, so look for them – although they may have a different name. It was suggested that maybe Dulce  Blues, Spanglish for Sweet Blues, would work.

John Kogge and the Lonesome Strangers may also be undergoing a name change. The band has had some recent changes in the line-up, and may be considering Just This Side of Shameless. (Kogge, for the record, plays a Zeiler-made guitar.) I hadn’t heard the previous line-up, but I really like this one, which included Laurie Traveline Neyer on accordion and harmony vocal, Frank Fitch on mandolin and violin, Fred Hautau on stand-up bass, and Kogge on acoustic guitar and lead vocals.

The band started the evening with Dylan — Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues — and ended the evening with Dylan — Forever Young.  In between they played (among others):

  • Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock
  • John Prine’s Paradise
  • John Kogge’s West Coast Rag

January 15

Being the third Monday of the month, this was an open mic night.

The first open-mic performer, Luke Pace-Scrivner, entertained the audience with something a little different (although not something completely different): a couple of original tunes on the piano. I only caught the end of the last one, but what I heard sounded nice. Look for Luke around town on his own as Kumsai MC or with the band Sassy Molasses.

Dave Surnbrock, the second open-mic performer, gave us a couple of originals:

  • One serious, about an encounter with “Somebody’s Daughter” who had fallen on hard times but is still worthy of love from above – and the rest of us.
  • One a not-so-serious parody, based on David Wilcox’s The Eye of the Hurricane, about the trials and tribulations of Herman Cain.

Lenny Hall finished of the open-mic set with two Bill Staines tunes: Ol’ Jack and Bridges. Just a reminder: Bill is coming to the Leo on March 30. To get your tickets now, click the link in the right sidebar.

The second set featured April Eight (aka April Combs), accompanied by Cindy Mayti of Silver Arm on concertina. April specializes in high-energy performances of her original songs which are “filled with wonder and enchantment and positive magic,” as stated by Carrie Newcomer on April’s site. Most — perhaps all — of the songs were from here newest CD, “Songs for a Magical Winter.” Two of them were:

One of Cincinnati’s premier blues performer, Greg Schaber, finished off the night with some righteous finger-style blues. Greg’s sets always include a lot of history, often about the blues, but sometimes about greater Cincinnati as well. On this night, as a prelude to one song, he recounted the story of Madam Lena and Madame Sheba, two gypsy fortune tellers with parlors in Newport. The tune that inspired the story was one of Greg’s originals about Augusta, a town on the river in Bracken County, Kentucky. (I am not sure of the connection, other than both are about things in Kentucky.)

To get a real good idea of what Greg can do on the guitar, watch this clip.

If you like making music, or like being part of community where people make music – and there are many who think/feel that making music is one of the most important features of a fulfilling community life (two examples are the makeshift musician and the music empowers foundation)  – then you really should consider coming on down to the Leo.

On every evening at the LEO, while the concert takes place in the main room (for an audience of 75 or so) other musicians are jamming in other parts of the building. The Leo Coffeehouse: A great place for do-it-yourself acoustic-based music.

Come on out. Bring your friends. 

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