Smiling Hadden Sayers of Houston, Texas, belts out the blues at "Red, White, and Blues," an Independence Day event in the Pine Bluff / Jefferson County Regional Park this past July 4. His group, the Hadden Sayers Band, was the headliner for the event. In the background is drummer Tony McClung. Out of the picture and to the left, keyboardist Dave DeWitt pounds the ivories. Together they raised the roof. They do not fit the stereotypical mold of musicians.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
The temperature vacillated between the high nineties and low triple digits, and the humidity was, shall we say, thick. Under the circumstances, the climatic conditions afforded an air of authenticity to "Red, White and Blues," a benefit outdoor concert in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, this Fourth of July past. After all, the blues were born in the blistering bowels of scorching cotton fields in the Mississippi Delta, just a short drive to the east, where sweating is an art form.
Brian Austin gives it the old behind-the-noggin blues guitar treatment as Old Glory snaps in the background. The breeze flying the flag was the precursor of a soon-to-sweep-through thunderstorm.
The Brian Austin Blues Band was the opening act and put forth a good dose of blues, one of the highlights of which was Brian Austin warbling a basic "dirt-under-the-fingernails" blues solo while accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar. He later — with much aplomb — did the old behind-the-head trick on the electric guitar. Just a few minutes after Brian and crew wrapped up their set, a soaking thunderstorm blew through the concert area.
Everyone pitched-in to dry the stage after the storm. From left, Adam Varnell, lead singer and harp guy for the Saints of Yesterday, holds up mike cords, while production chief Jerry looks on. Saints rhythm guitarist Dennis South and concert promoter Joe Powell sweep and squeegee water from the rain-soaked stage.
Undaunted, the production crew, promoters, and band members hustled around and covered essential equipment. Fortunately, the storm was short lived. After it left the premises, the same crew who covered the equipment uncovered it — and joined hands in a mopping-sweeping-squeegeeing operation to clear the stage of rain puddles.
Next up were local and regional favorites, the Saints of Yesterday, who regaled an appreciative crowd with their brand of energetic blues. The six-man band creates a good mix with lead and rhythm guitars, harp/lead singer, bass, drums, and keyboard.
Once the stage was dry, the Saints of Yesterday held forth with a great performance. From left, bass player Robert Lamb and lead singer Adam Varnell watch lead guitarist John Hugen wail on a long stirring ride.
Hadden Sayers and his group wrapped up the musical performances. The concert closed with a fine fireworks display. Sayers, a talented musician, is in constant demand for his impressive guitar talents. In the recent Blues Music Awards he accompanied other performers.
The event was produced by "Blues for a Cause, A Helping Hand," a non-profit organization which promotes blues concerts and festivals to raise money to help uninsured cancer and other catastrophic illness victims pay their medical and other bills. Call it sweat and tunes for a good cause.
N O T E S:
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.