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Alpine Country Blues Festival

by lobo91 ( 40 Comments › )
Filed under Music, Open thread, Uncategorized at June 16th, 2019 - 8:57 pm

This Saturday, my travels took me to the tiny hamlet of Alpine, Arizona. Basically, Alpine barely qualifies as a “wide spot in the road,” since the road it’s on isn’t that busy, either. You pretty much have to go there intentionally, because it’s too far out of the way for anyone to find it accidentally. It’s located just across the state line from New Mexico at 8,050 feet, which does make for some interesting weather. More about that later.

Obviously, I must have had a very good reason to visit such a place, right? As it turns out, Alpine has a country and blues music festival every June, and this year, one of the headliners was the Ally Venable Band. Ally Venable, playing two and a half hours away? I’m there!

Like its larger cousin in Flagstaff, the Alpine Country Blues Festival is in its seventh year. It’s a much more casual event, though. No VIP section, and certainly no catering. In fact, they don’t even have a parking lot. Attendees just find a spot to park on the side of the road. They do have plenty of vendors, though, so at least nobody was going to starve (and the beer was only $4, rather than the $8 in Flagstaff, so there’s that).

I arrived about noon local time, just as things were getting started. I staked out a piece of grass, unfolded my camping chair, and settled in for a day of music (and a few of those $4 beers, I must confess).

The weather was good. It was about 75, with a breeze blowing toward the stage. Although it was partly cloudy most of the day, the lack of shade took its toll. Sunscreen was a hot commodity (along with cold drinks—did I mention beer?).

There were a total of seven acts on the bill, weighted more toward “country” than “blues.” The first was an acoustic country/bluegrass band out of Colorado called Thunder and Rain, which included a stand-up bass, mandolin, and dobro. I know most of you probably never heard of the dobro before I mentioned it last week as one of the instruments Megan Lovell plays, but it’s a real thing. I have a picture to prove it.

Not being much of a country music fan, I have to admit that most of the afternoon’s performers sort of ran together for me. One that was memorable, though, was a South African musician by the name of Riann Smit. He’s more of a blues player than country, but what makes him stand out is the fact that he’s a solo artist in the true sense of the word—he plays all by himself. Using the miracle of modern electronics, he creates loops of himself playing various instruments and then uses them to accompany himself while he sings. All of this is done on the fly, rather than being pre-recorded.  Sort of a high-tech one-mane band. Here’s an example.

One interesting thing about the set up at Alpine is the fact that the “green room” in an open-sided tent next to the road, which makes it easy to spot the upcoming artists as they arrive.  Ally Venable turned up around 3:00, although she wasn’t scheduled to go on until 5:20. Dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, she looked very much the teenaged “girl next door” that she is. She stopped to talk to a couple of young girls in the audience before making her way to wherever she went for the next couple of hours. Hopefully, someplace with air conditioning.

At about 5:00, after the fifth band finished their set, Ally’s band began setting up. Her usual trio of Bobby Wallace on bass and Elijah Owings on drums was augmented by a keyboard player whose name I missed, and can’t seem to find anywhere online. It must have been an experiment, because I’ve never seen them play with one, although it did bring an interesting dynamic to the sound.

When Ally appeared a few minutes later to do a sound check, she had been completely transformed, Disney princess-style.  Instead of jeans and a t-shirt, she was dressed in a clingy long-sleeved mini-dress and thigh-high boots, looking more like she should be taking the stage in a nightclub in NYC or L.A. than a field in rural Arizona. Listening to some of the people around me in the audience, I got the impression that many of them had never heard of her, and had no idea what they were in for. They were about to be surprised!

The band launched into a nearly 10 minute cover of Bill Withers’ soul classic “Use Me,” making good use of their newly-acquired keyboards. By the time they were through, and the audience had a chance to pick their jaws up off the floor—err, grass—there was definitely no question that the “little girl” had every right to be up on stage!

Although Ally just turned 20 in April, and could easily pass for 16, she’s already an accomplished musician, singer and songwriter with numerous awards under her belt. Recently signing with blues powerhouse Ruf Records, her third album, Texas Honey, debuted at number two on the Billboard Blues charts. A native of the east Texas oil town of Kilgore, Ally has been playing professionally since she was just 14, balancing performing on the weekends with attending high school during the week. A protégé of east Texas blues guitarist Lance Lopez, she’s also worked closely with Gary Hooey and Mike Zito, who produced Texas Honey.

After finishing “Use Me,” the band played a couple of songs from the new album, including the title track and “Broken,” both originals. Next, she reached back to her second album, Puppet Show, for her cover of Bessie Smith’s iconic “Backwater Blues,” which is a perfect showcase for both her vocals and her fiery guitar work. A song about the 1927 Mississippi River flood that stands as one of the nation’s worst natural disasters even today, the chorus includes the line:

Backwater blues done called me to pack my things and go
Backwater blues done called me to pack my things and go
‘Cause my house fell down and I can’t live there no more

And then it came true. The wind picked up to about 25 mph, the skies opened up, and we were suddenly in the middle of a rain storm. To make things worse, the wind was blowing directly toward the stage, drenching everything with wind-driven rain. It doesn’t take an electrical engineer to know what that means, of course. Electric guitars, amps, lights and water are a bad mix, so the show came to a crashing halt. Everyone ran for the hills—or their cars—and that was that. The 2019 Alpine Country Blues Festival came to a premature end.

No time for autographs or pictures this time, unfortunately.

So that’s what a dobro looks like!


The view from the stage


Getting set up


“Do you want to hear some blues?”


Moments before the rain struck


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40 Responses to “Alpine Country Blues Festival”
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  1. rain of lead
    1 | June 16, 2019 9:17 pm

    thanks lobo
    loving the music theme

  2. lobo91
    2 | June 16, 2019 9:24 pm

    It was kind of disappointing in the end. Ally sounded great, and was just getting started when it all went to shit

  3. rain of lead
    3 | June 16, 2019 9:34 pm

    @ lobo91:
    had a few moments in my life that went JUST like that

  4. lobo91
    4 | June 16, 2019 9:39 pm

    Speaking of Lance Lopez’ proteges, he’s been working with a band called Salvation From Sundown for a couple of years now. Considering that aside from the bass player, they’re all barely in high school, they’re pretty good. Kelsi Kee, the lead singer, and Reece Malone, the lead guitarist, were both 14 when this was shot:

  5. lobo91
    5 | June 16, 2019 9:43 pm

    I believe this was shot on Kelsi’s 15th birthday about 6 weeks ago:

  6. rain of lead
    6 | June 16, 2019 9:59 pm

    @ lobo91:


  7. lobo91
    7 | June 16, 2019 10:00 pm

    @ rain of lead:

    There must be something in the water in east Texas

  8. lobo91
    8 | June 16, 2019 10:03 pm

  9. yenta-fada
    9 | June 16, 2019 10:46 pm

    @ lobo91:

    My computer is broken. Hubby has to take it to the shop tomorrow.
    Sad trombone. I’ll listen when I’m back in normal ‘action’. Great series.

  10. eaglesoars
    10 | June 16, 2019 10:53 pm

    Oh, man, lobo, that’s really too bad, for you, the musicians, everybody. But at least you got to hear a little bit. Dang.

  11. eaglesoars
    11 | June 16, 2019 10:57 pm

    yenta-fada wrote:

    My computer is broken.

    AGAIN? This is a new one, right?

  12. 12 | June 17, 2019 2:03 am

    Heavy and nasty is this.

  13. 13 | June 17, 2019 2:15 am

    Sister’s still in the same condition, mentally confused, physically improving very slowly. We just found out she had depleted her investment account and was living off of a credit card. It’s got a current balance due of $16K plus. 🙁

  14. rain of lead
    14 | June 17, 2019 7:20 am

    morning y’all

    news roundup for the morning
    The Morning Report – 6/17/19

  15. eaglesoars
    15 | June 17, 2019 9:10 am

    @ Bunk X:

    Bunk, is she going to be able to live on her own again?

  16. coldwarrior
    16 | June 17, 2019 1:41 pm


    meanwhile, across the border in PA the unemployment is at record low and business is booming.

    what is the difference? PA isn’t run by communists and we are actively fracking our way into long term economic health. hopefully none of the shit heads from NY move to my state.

  17. coldwarrior
    18 | June 17, 2019 2:19 pm

    @ right_wing2:

    at least she’s an honest idiot

  18. eaglesoars
    19 | June 17, 2019 2:56 pm

    right_wing2 wrote:

    An actual Communist.

    I can’t wait to see how ‘by any means necessary’ actually gets implemented. This should be fun…………

  19. yenta-fada
    20 | June 17, 2019 3:31 pm


    The streets are so crowded, the parade of players, etc. took 5 times more to get to the stage from the starting point than it would have taken to walk. People camped out 2 nights to stand in the front rows of the city square.

    The players are just going to come out. The crowd has been really quiet for the last hour of waiting. They are going to go crazy. There’s easily a million people crowded into downtown.

  20. eaglesoars
    21 | June 17, 2019 3:41 pm

    yenta-fada wrote:

    There’s easily a million people crowded into downtown.


    Your ‘puter is fixed?

  21. yenta-fada
    22 | June 17, 2019 3:57 pm

    eaglesoars wrote:

    yenta-fada wrote:

    There’s easily a million people crowded into downtown.


    Your ‘puter is fixed?

    For now. I’m not convinced they got to the software issue. Trudeau is taking the fun out of the ceremonies. Asshole. Everyone else is fine. I think the crowd is exhausted. Being the only basketball team in Canada has brought in from all over the country.

    Classy and mature outstanding players, coaching, ownership, etc. Oops, there’s been a nearby emergency, they are telling the crowd to stay calm. Said they would be an update soon. Not good.

  22. eaglesoars
    23 | June 17, 2019 4:12 pm

    Oh, this is gonna be good…..

    German Green Party Proposes Ban on All Industrial Farming

    The measure was proposed by Katrin Goering-Eckardt, the party’s leader in the Germany parliament, as part of a massive €100 billion project to finance climate initiatives.

    First of all, I’m not sure that they can. If it’s permitted under the CAP, which covers the entire EU, I think in order to ban it in Germany, it would have to be banned in the EU. I could be wrong……..

    But it would be a hoot to see them try

  23. yenta-fada
    24 | June 17, 2019 4:12 pm

    The president of the Raptors is originally from Cameroon. Incredible talent. The respect that this team has for each other, management, employees, fans, city, is very touching and truthful. They are letting the best players each a couple of minutes to talk to the crowd. It’s our summer of love ceremony without obvious drugs and no room for people to bring their beer coolers. Just a great synergy.

  24. yenta-fada
    25 | June 17, 2019 4:22 pm

    Kwai Leonard thanking God and wearing a t-shirt saying “Board Man Gets Paid”. lol. Drake now, a home town guy, telling people to give somebody in the crowd a hug. A pretty low key presentation. Showing up was the homage.

  25. yenta-fada
    26 | June 17, 2019 4:37 pm

    Emergency was 2 people getting shot. Injured. They made the announcement so that people wouldn’t panic and run into each other. Now they are showing where people were scattering in fear. Cops on horses there now and people just standing wondering what happened. It’s under control. The subways aren’t running yet because of the sheer mass of people. Kawhi Leonard. I speled it rong.

  26. eaglesoars
    27 | June 17, 2019 4:38 pm

    oh my god. Dymphna of the Gates of Vienna blog died last nite. Quite sudden.

  27. yenta-fada
    28 | June 17, 2019 4:47 pm

    eaglesoars wrote:


    That is a real loss for the counter jihad smart, dedicated and sane movement. Sorry to hear it.

  28. yenta-fada
    29 | June 17, 2019 4:52 pm

    @ eaglesoars:

    See, my computer is still not acting right. dammit. It only stopped working when I tried to do a system restore. Something I do only very rarely. The shop reversed the system restore (somehow) and that made it work again. But it’s not fixed.

  29. eaglesoars
    30 | June 17, 2019 4:54 pm

    @ yenta-fada:

    Poor Matt. Their only child committed suicide years ago, I don’t know if he is all alone now. They’re here in Northern Virginia somewhere, I think, maybe around Centreville.

  30. lobo91
    31 | June 17, 2019 4:59 pm

    Biden: “The First Thing I Would Do” Is Raise Taxes:

    His campaign was boring, anyway…

  31. eaglesoars
    32 | June 17, 2019 5:03 pm

    @ lobo91:

    I wonder if he can spell ‘Mondale’

  32. yenta-fada
    33 | June 17, 2019 5:51 pm

    Nobel Prize winning discovery work curing some cancers. Determined biochemist does his own thinking.

  33. lobo91
    34 | June 17, 2019 5:53 pm

    This is a really good interview:

  34. lobo91
    35 | June 17, 2019 6:13 pm

    From the wayback machine–a 2012 live radio performance from the acoustic days:

  35. eaglesoars
    36 | June 17, 2019 6:27 pm

    @ yenta-fada:

    I know about this guy because of my illness. I met some immunologists who told me about his work.

    One of the issues not mentioned is this whole ‘remission’ thing. ‘Remission’ is not ‘cured’ because the disease reactivates.

    And they don’t know why. The T-cells learn, they learn all the time. But somehow, not this. Some are looking at the cytokines (for some diseases, they know which cytokines are involved). They’re hoping they can make more specific meds. My immune med is used for several cytokine patterns, not just mine.

    It’s fascinating stuff.

  36. coldwarrior
    37 | June 17, 2019 8:09 pm

    new thread, thanks for covering, Lobo!

  37. yenta-fada
    38 | June 17, 2019 8:21 pm

    @ eaglesoars:

    It is remarkably complex. I was impressed that the article was so clearly written. I’m sure my basket of autoimmune problems are related to cytokines. I can’t get properly diagnosed here for any of them. Even if I had been diagnosed in the U.S. I couldn’t get meds or proper follow up. Not to mention the cost. I keep being told my test results don’t make sense or that I am a medical mystery. I’ve always had environmental allergies. Why am I still here?

  38. eaglesoars
    39 | June 17, 2019 8:37 pm

    yenta-fada wrote:

    I’m sure my basket of autoimmune problems are related to cytokines

    everything is cytokines. They’ve identified the ones for my disease, but there’s no specific med for them. So even if you could come here, it’s still an infant science.

  39. AZfederalist
    40 | June 17, 2019 9:20 pm

    eaglesoars wrote:

    @ lobo91:

    I wonder if he can spell ‘Mondale’

    Problem is, we have a population with a couple of generations indoctrinated into socialism by the government run schools. They might buy off on a Monduhl campaign

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