Beef’s Joint - The Black Cat Bone Music Report

By Bobby Roast Beef
November 2011

Editors Note - In attempts to provide Deep Blues artists places to play out in Western Mass, Bobby Roast Beef is doing his best to advance the music he loves within his own community. The BBS is pleased Bobby Roast Beef has agreed to be a new feature contributor with the Boston Blues Society.

I can consider my mind officially blown. After seeing all that I had missed at this years Deep Blues Festival and Muddy Roots Fest posted on you-tube, it was a huge stroke of good luck to have such a display of talent in my own town earlier this month. I'm talking about Ray Cashman and his mix of swamp-boogie, low down and dirty blues!

Out here in the western part of Massachusetts - often the forgotten region - there has been a bit of shaking up going on lately. There has been a handful of great events happening that try to bring touring artists into this part of the state and also put them into non-traditional venues. The goal is to develop an audience for these artists that may have gotten a bit under the radar for some folks. There is a vibrant scene of roots and blues music out there which breathes a breath of fresh air into the mix. From house shows to matinee series events, the muddy roots/deep blues movement has started to take some residency in the Pioneer Valley and thank God it has!

The last of these events featured Cashman at the Waterfront Tavern in Holyoke on October 8. Ray Cashman knows how to put on a killer show and he certainly did not disappoint! One special twist in this set was the addition of Jim Chilson and Jay Scheffler (of Boston's Ten Foot Polecats) accompanying Ray and drummer Adam Verone. A couple of the highlights from the set for me were Cashman's "Snake Feast" and "Whiskey, Weed and Women." The crew also played R.L. Burnside's "Snake Drive" which is a tune I rarely ever hear anyone do - and was a treat! They also did jam a couple of tunes from the Ten Foot Polecats - one that had caught me ear was the version of "So Good to Me." It was cool to hear the guitar work of both Chilson and Cashman on this one.

As I watched, one thing was made abundantly clear - folks were really digging this. Maybe it was because this wasn't the safer, more mainstream type of display we have become so used to seeing at most shows. This isn't to say there is anything wrong with that style - more to say that there is an air of unique influence and fostered creativity that maybe seemed refreshing to my peers. It's that moment of "oh, i get it - and i like it!" that these grassroots events are hoping to generate more of. Who knows, perhaps in the future you will see the Deep Blues Festival held in Northampton? Hey we can wish - right?!?!

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