From The Artists Studio
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein RAA Contact Info: Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718- 474-4373; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org.
The Arts @ Fort Tilden: The Summer Moons Free Concert/Entertainment Series: Start time: 7 p.m. Location: RAA's Moon Stage at RoCA, Fort Tilden.
August 16: Squid.
August 9: 1) Cool Hand Lou and The Downtown Daddy-O's. The group plays the cool, powerful Chicago blues as they were meant to be played. Read more about the band below. 2) Open mic for acoustic guitar.
The great pioneering blues guitarist Willie McCrae is quoted as saying, "Lou just loves the blues...When you hear him play you can feel it. Lou and the Daddy-O's know how to share that feeling with an audience." High praise, indeed. Audiences will have the opportunity to hear this band for free at RAA's outdoor Moon Stage on August 9. The band is composed of Cool Hand Lou Gerrero, Dennis "The Doctor" James, Nemo "The Hitman" Vera, and Ron "Billy D." Fletcher.
Lou grew up in Far Rockaway where he came to know Chicago blues from Willie McCrae, who was then janitor of the building in which young Lou lived. McCrae became his mentor, colleague and "second father." Lou says that he learned two things from the legendary electric guitarist, "One: The blues is the human condition set to music. It is someone singing about the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly that's in the world. Two: The blues should always make you feel glad to be alive." The members of the band have had extensive experience in a variety of musical forms that include jazz, rock, funk and of course, blues. According to Lou, "I'm trying to find that fine line of not compromising the integrity of the classic blues music, and yet still make it sound cool and relevant for the element of the crowd that may not be familiar with the blues." It has been said that they "always keep their audience in mind, mixing up the tempos just enough to keep the dance floor and….[the seats]…equally packed on the slow, medium-tempo and high energy numbers."
The blues is a style of music that is still listened to today because it reaches deep into the hearts and souls of those who play it and those who listen to it. It evolved in the African-American community from spirituals, praise songs and field hollers, from rhymed English and Scots-Irish ballads, chants and shouts. Chicago blues was influenced by the Mississippi musicians who migrated to Chicago. Their music incorporated electric guitar, sometimes slide guitar, harmonica, bass and drums. The master blues musicians of the past include B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Elmore James. Many musical genres and countless contemporary musicians and singers like Eric Clapton have been highly influenced by it. If you wish to read more extensively on the blues, and specifically, Chicago blues, check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues.
Cool Hand Lou and The Downtown Daddy-O's have been true to the genre's form and spirit. They "carry on the blues tradition with integrity and sincerity." Says Lou, "The blues is the greatest music in the world. I should know, I've been saved by the blues." For more about Lou and the guys: coolhandlou. com. The band will be back in Rockaway at the Blackwater Inn, 111-12 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, on Saturday, September 8 at 10 p.m.
Rockaway Theatre Company: Upcoming: "Steel Magnolias." Dates: August 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 at 8 p.m.; August 12 at 2 p.m. For tickets: 718-850-2450.
Playwright Robert Harling was careful to state of the women in his play that they are "witty, intelligent, and, above all, real characters. They in no way, shape or form are meant to be portrayed as cartoons or caricatures." Harling based the women on those with whom he grew up. He wrote it in memory of his sister, Susan, and dedicated it to her son, Robert. The actresses in this production do justice to Harling's advice. Their women are strong, loving and fully dimensional. Their dialogue is the conversation among friends who joke, laugh and support each other under the most trying of circumstances. And they are funny. Though living in a town in Louisiana, they are the women you know, or wish you knew.