Review – Ruthie Foster and the Blind Boys of Alabama, Pantages Playhouse, June 17 2009

this is an older,smoother
audience

we’re talking and whispering,
born in the 40s/50s/60s

i’m here for Ruthie Foster

i’ve seen the Blind Boys
and they’re always
happy
to “see
us in Canada”

Jimmy Carter
says
there will be one more
blind man
in Canada
because he loves the friendly
people here
and is applying
for citizenship,

come on in!
you’re welcome,
and thank you
now.
in, this, moment;

thanking the CNIB,

he’s lovely
he’s thin
he is power,fully
raspy of blessed voice
seated and silently
patiently
virtuously
waiting his turn
to enthrall us

heal us

to walk among us\
to rock our souls

to do the strolls
up and down the aisles
shaking that microphone
for us
to sound off
to whoop and holler
and to sing

and feel us

as we feel him,
beautiful
and hungry

(heal us)

(i want to read this to you Mr. Carter)

Billy Bowers is the big, round, shaking
(and unshakeable) man
the “hungry man”
that Jimmy jokes
and pokes good/natured
Loving fun at

Billy needs to eat
so buy the cds
all those Grammy-winning cds
talking about gospel soul!

(Down In New Orleans
the most recently
released)

and visit the World Vision
people to give the orphans
of Africa
“a second chance”
in their hardships
AIDs and other
devastating wars
on the body
on the spirit
on the family
on the fabric
of the people

of continental
Africa

Ben Moore
is the grooving,
moving man
he’s the dancing man
he’s the stand up
man
the man so/ready/shake
it up and sing
out
Proud
Loud
and
Soul,fully
Sweetly
for his Faith
Now that is a Man
to his philosophy!

Ricky McKinnie
is the drumming man
the beat keeper
man
the sticks man
the heartbeat
of the band
singing it out

it’s four/part harmony
it’s the way it is
in Alabama
in the Gospel
stylings
in the church
of sweetest song

Faith,fully yours
and ours
and hours of joy

Joey Williams
on guitar
and voice
the helping hand
making sure
the guys safely settle in their chairs
and don’t bump
into mike stands
or trip on guitar pedals,
water bottles
and leading Jimmy on
his walk
into the audience

Tracy Pierce
on the grooving bass
and voice
all rhythm cool

80 minutes

12 songs

Down By The Riverside

Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready!
with the wonderful Ruthie Foster
belting it out
sweet gospel
sisters in the church style
amen corner of the church
on the higher ground,

Spirit In The Sky
unfathomably wondrous

Jimmy Carter’s
rocking it down
Way Down In The Hole
where you gotta keep
The Devil
down
in the hole!

and here’s where
we settle down
to an Uncloudy Day
and
Ben Harper’s There Will Be A Light
and Earl King’s
Make A Better World

a little lull
a wonder,full

and then we’re taken
away
to the
higher ground
flying
Free At Last!
and
Amazing Grace!
arranged to the music of
House Of The Rising Sun
(beautiful arrangement)

reminds me of The Replacements
how Paul Westerberg
would take his songs
and arrange his words
to (say) a U2 song,
Kids Don’t Follow
to the music of I Will Follow,

“can I get a witness?”
Jimmy asks,
“look where He brought me from!”

from Alabama,
segregation
prejudice
injustice
from a place
where he could not see
(blind)
but he could feel
and sense
and now,
(healed)
he sees
this Amazing Grace

then, The Walk
you can’t keep the guys
down
they need to stand up
and sing and dance
and Jimmy needs
to Walk, to stroll among us

and walk he does
with Joey’s
helping hand
and we’re rising
standing
dancing,
feeling it
singing it
whooping it
hollering it
hands reaching you
out to touch
touching
and thanking you, Jimmy
thank you Blind Boys of Alabama
you’re! so! beautiful!

encore! encore!
one last song
the Stevie
Wonder
classic,

Higher Ground

i’m moving it
down in my seat
grooving it
deep down
blessed
by your gift…

Ruthie Foster!

she is Soul Deep
in the pocket
of the higher ground
the higher place
she is grooving it
deep down
every time she sings
out Loud.

feeling it.

revealing it.

being it, the song
the style
the guile
the smile
the ecstasy

the joy of her song
and her singing and her band grooving.

12 songs
70 minutes.

Up Above My Head
Another Rain Song
Runaway Soul
Fruits of My Labor
When It Don’t Come Easy

(the heart songs,
Ruthie drew hearts after these songs
on the set lists)

I Really Love You
Stone Love
Real Love

Woke Up This Morning
(With My Mind On Freedom)

Grinnin’ In Your Face
Joy Over There
Travellin’ Shoes

“Thank y’all. Spoken like a true
Texan. Lots of friends and family here.
I’ll be introducing them to you.
Meanwhile, we’ll get the music rolling.”

and my spine’s shivering with the rolling
thunder
and lightning spirit
so,soul,deep inside
rolling i=blazing,on the rhythm
and the cool,strolling,groove.

the band is tight and true
sam on gritty,guitar
(i hope i have that right!)
cousin Tanya on 5 string bass
Bones Miller on church/y keys
Samantha on the sub,sonic
thundering drums

“hello to all the folks who go to
the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
I’m going to miss you (this year).
I grew up listening to Sam Cooke.
I wrote this song in his style.
Another Rain Song.”

a loving and magical tribute
to a beautiful
spiritual voice
and man

“What a lovely day for a rain song.”

“got to mix blues with my gospel.”

Runaway Soul and i feel like
i’m being served an appetizer
soul/healing/food
Al Green style
(coming to the Jazz Festival
Tuesday, June 30th
Centennial Concert Hall)
beautiful!

“I’m feeling better now! It’s like
clearing the pipes. This is a night of
blues, gospel and a little reggae too.
This is a little Lucinda Williams.
Fruits of My Labor. We want to mix
some Lucinda, some Otis Redding
and Ruthie Foster and see what kind
of stew we can come up with.”

tasty stew, tasty home cooked brew(ing)
aromas
of lemons, fresh squeezed,
mango, slippery skin juices flowing
cool shivers on my landscapes
loving sensual topography
massaging into
sugar cane plains
tenderly “smelling you for hours”
only a woman like Lucinda could write this
and only a woman like Ruthie can make you Feel this
taste this, inhale the sexy fragrance
If only Otis could have wrapped his soul
around Lucinda’s words, images, sensual
textures,
oh my

(hear) (listen) we have a follower
a disciple
of Otis
Of Sam
and that’s a perfect gift

and after this song,
just like the other songs,
the audience is roaring
loving the playing
of the band
so Ruthie responds
naturally
graciously
applauding us
and this becomes
an after every song thing
and the band joins in
because
it’s a relationship
it’s a loving energy
flowing back and forth
the vibes
are moving between us
back and forth
ebbing and flowing
the energy of tenderness
of Otis
of Al
of Sam
it’s the song
it’s the dance
it’s the spirit

it’s the exploring of boundaries
soundaries of the band

of the Voice.

“I do love my songwriters.
When It Don’t Come Easy,
by Patty Griffin.”

“if you break down
i’ll drive out and find you
if you forget my love
i’ll try to remind you
and stay by you
when it don’t come easy”

I Really Love You
is the evening’s first foray
into reggae
and it’s okay

“i do believe we’re feeling alright!
i’m gonna sing a song about Love.
Gospel style.”

Stone Love!

church organ

“I know it’s hard…
you wanna run
you wanna hide
something deep inside
says
dry your eyes.”

sounds like that hot stevie wonder style
beautiful
rolling thunder
lightning
style
flashing in the mind’s eye
“dry your eyes”

feeling it
deep inside
in the blood
in the sinew
in the bones
the skin tissue

and after, the band’s
applauding
it’s pure
love energy
This Is A Show
to remember
to never forget
if it’s your first one
it’s a dream one
if it’s your 100th
it’
s an anniversary
sweet joy happiness.

“Well, well, well,
all you can say is Well!”

Real Love, more reggae,
this one is better than the first
foray,
hot guitar solo
and cool strolling bass
solo playing

“We can feel you!
We’re gonna give it back to you!”

that is exactly what it’s all about
the musicians and the audience as One
United
Loving
Feeling it
Sharing it
Experiencing it
one of those magical shows.

and here we go,

the uplifting

the climax

the one,two,three,four
combo touches
relentless
to the hearts
nourish us
to the souls

Woke Up This Morning
With My Mind On Freedom

“I’m walking and talking with my
mind straight on freedom.”

the gospel
the times
the truth
of freedom

that soul,full
church organ
so deep down
inside

“Yes sir! hallelujah!
I’m feeling real good!
I’m feeling so fine.”

she puts her guitar down
and here we go
to another place
to an even higher ground

Grinnin’ In Your Face
So Hot Gospel
putting a spell
on the audience

“these are the sounds i would hear
every sunday. My sisters would sit
in the Amen Corner.”

knowing calls from the audience
the sisters who know
who’ve sat there
singing it

we’re traveling the gospel road,

Joy Over There

we’re singing it
flying it
feeling it
believing it

“Yes sir! We thank you!
We appreciate your kind
attention
to our music
we’ll leave you with a song
called Travellin’ Shoes.”

the guitar solo is blazing
spiritually
lifting us higher
one and all
the church organ
it’s time for all the band to offer their
gratitudes
in solos
the bass
the drum

it’s all thank you’s

and you’re welcome

both ways.

all ways

always

Loving you
Ruthie.

About Eugene Osudar

“born, august 16, 1963. i’m 45, and yes, i’m getting too old for this. bring out the rocking chair. my first concert, november 1978, elvis costello and the attractions. i was 15. their blisteringly brilliant 65 minute set only served somebody to affirm my new direction in the musical parallel universes, new wave punk alternative, oh sanctity oh celebration (!Freedom!) college radio! i’m old, i’m used up and i’m free. i see 50something Full sets of music every month and dance most of them. and when i dance, i mean to say, I Dance and Celebrate, 2/3/4 hours a night. The Gaslight Anthem. The Boss. The Weber Brothers. The Wind Ups. i’ll dance with Los Campesinos. i’ll move to The Long Winters. The Replacements. Husker Du. The Pogues. oh elvis costello, oh Clash! i could go/go/go Gogol Bordello forever. L(eonard) Cohen. come, Dance With Me (Old 97s) wherever you may be, sincerely, eugene
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