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L.A. Beat

Jim Byrnes and Steve Dawson deliver a lesson in the blues

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Jim Byrnes and Steve Dawson played old school blues, country and gospel at the Geomatic Attic, Nov. 7. Photo by Richard AmeryBluesman Jim Byrnes paid his first visit to Lethbridge in about 30 years and brought a special treat with him to the Geomatic Attic, Nov. 7 — guitarist Steve Dawson. It was a show anybody even remotely interested in the blues should have been at, though that might have been tough as it was a full house.

 The duo gave a crash course in 1930s blues while added a modern twist to the music.

 Dawson, founder of Vancouver based blues and roots record label Black Hen Records, played a superb set with his drummer Geoff Hicks and bassist Keith Lowe, beginning with a sweet version of the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Lonely As I Can Be,” then proceeded to switch to several guitars including a Weissenborn and a pedal steel, through a superb selection of obscure blues and brand new original material, which Dawson said he was testing out as he is entering the studio soon to record a new CD.

 It was  an excellent set , with his song about Skip James, who he said “had a weird outlook on life and berated audiences for coming to see him,” being one of many highlights.

Jim Byrnes  continued the old school blues lesson, by playing his own songs and reinterpretations of obscure classics while telling several stories.

 He began with the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Bootlegging Blues,” which is a highlight off his latest CD “Everywhere West.”
Dawson added some impressive slide guitar chops behind Byrnes, adding a  Sonny Landreth feel to the music.
 He spoke of  going to  blues clubs a s afresh face high school kid in the “most crime ridden part of the U.S.” in his home town of East St. Louis and getting to meet some of the major players like Jimmy Reed, then played  Reed’s song “ Don’t You Know I Love You? (Honestly I Do).”

“We just got back from Europe where the three B’s are  Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, but where I come from, the three Bs are Bobby Blue Bland,” he prefaced a gospel tinged version of “Lead Me Not Into Temptation.” 

He covered a lot of genres from gospel to jazz and even added Buck Owens’ “Together Again,”
 But his version of Irving Berlin's “Walking Stick” was especially touching as he hobbled onto the stage with his walking stick in hand.

 Byrnes proved to be an affable host, telling stories and singing magnificent blues melodies on a variety of songs like Robert Johnson's “ Four Until Late.”

 He ended an enjoyable show with a gospel number from Rev. Tom Dorsey “Have You helped Somebody,” which started slow and then built up to another fine, tasteful Steve Dawson slide guitar solo.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 November 2010 13:32 )  
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