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Like Youth, Like Blues

"Back in the day," the guitarist says during a break between songs "the blues was the real deal, and it had soul, and there were the greats playing it like Lightnin' Hopkins and Albert King and Muddy Waters."

Humphreys Backstage is at capacity. I finally manage to find one vacant seat in the back next to Joey Harris of the Mentals, formerly of the Beat Farmers and more bands than there is space to list here.

A few rows up I see Michael Kinsman, producer of the San Diego Blues Festival. He is sitting next to Janine Harty, a deejay from KSDS Jazz 88.3. Across the dance floor sits an artist manager/record promoter named Dan Watson.

Whoever Wyatt Lowe and the Youngbloods are, they have drawing power.

There is head-bobbing and lap grinding enough to tell me the crowd isn't just there for happy hour priced mojitos and bargain nibblies. They are into this band, and every so often, dancing breaks out.

My mind wanders to the guitarist's comment: back in the day. I'd bought into it hook line and sinker and it takes me a minute to reflect on the fact that the guitarist who said this is maybe 14 years old. Back in the day for Wyatt Lowe was what, elementary school?

But he is both comfortable and credible in his role as a front man and he knows his way around blues chords and blues scales and appears to be able to solo endlessly in long streams and phrases that contain well-oiled quotes to many of the greats. Kid's got chops. So do the Youngbloods, for that matter -- Jaxon Blinn on drums, and bassist Connor Patlan.

"We had a barbecue and blues restaurant in Temecula when Wyatt was born." Chappy's Road House, says Lowe's mom Cheryl. "Wyatt grew up listening to Billy Watson and Robin Henkel. He was three years old and he'd stand by the side of the stage and watch, mesmerized. We wondered if something was wrong with him. But no - he was just soaking it in."

I had a girlfriend that lived in Temecula, and for a time I ate at Chappy's every Sunday. I mention a fellow patron who likewise was there on Sunday afternoons, the kind of guy you'd call local color. He'd roll up in $300,000 dollars' worth of gleaming Lamborghini and boast that no woman had ever driven his car.

"He was a song writer. From Oklahoma," says Patrick Lowe, Wyatt's dad. "I remember exactly who you're talking about."

"The one who wouldn't let women drive his Lambo?"

"Right. But plenty of them rode in it."

"It was my idea to start the band," Wyatt Lowe will tell me later, after all the gear is packed and before the gig money has been counted. It would not be a stretch to say that he resembles Doogie Howser, MD. Lowe is something of a product of the BLUSD Summer Blues Camp, where he brushed up against blues stalwarts such as Anson Funderburgh and Kim Wilson.

"We worked for two months, on the fundamentals," Lowe says, "of what a blues player should know."

But young guys playing the blues? Why not indie, or punk? "I don't think we picked blues out," says drummer Jaxon Blinn. "It started out that way. I'm really into electronica, but I'm the only one in the band who is."

"The music we do?" This is Connor Patlan, bassist, speaking now. "It's someone else's, but we put out own vibe on it."

Both Lowe and Patlan go to San Marcos high school. Blinn attends High Tech High School, in Point Loma. Who are their collective influences?

Patlan: "Stevie Ray Vaughan." Wyatt: Freddie King." Patlan: "Social Distortion." Wyatt: "Lightnin' Hopkins." Jaxon: "My dad."

That would be Scottie Blinn, formerly of the Mississippi Mudsharks, and now fronting Black Market III, what he calls a greasepunk-blues trio. Scottie Blinn is high on the Youngbloods. He is their mentor, their coach.

"Do you want to be known as a young guitarist, or, as a good guitarist?" He says this to Wyatt Lowe post-gig. He's right. Look what happened to Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang.

Those two youth blues axe-masters were part of a situation that inspired Walter Trout to once tell me that "Every town has a 14 year-old guitar god in it." Sheppard and Lang are no longer doing child parlor tricks. As they have both aged, they have lapsed into the vast inventory of blues guitarists with hot licks going cold.

Wyatt Lowe's parents eventually left Temecula for Encinitas. They now run Chappy's Roadshow BBQ and Catering, which is how they met Scottie Blinn.

"We catered one of his events at the Summer Blues Camp," says Patrick Lowe.

Blinn's forte is with kids. He has the patience of a saint. I once watched him teach a six year old to play a simple scale on a guitar that was almost bigger than the kid was.

"If you can count," he'd said, "you can play guitar." He's wood-shedded with Lowe as well.

Outside, in the balmy night air, listening to a cheesy party band honk out bad music across the bay while Cheryl Lowe counts out the tip jar on the tailgate of a pickup truck I tell Wyatt Lowe the real problem with playing to the older cougar crowd: "you get robbed of the whole age-appropriate groupie experience."

"They'll be there at the Del Mar fair," he says. "Teen groupies."

Playing outside has its challenges, I remind them. Like staying in tune in the moist ocean air for one thing.

"We're definitely ready for the big outdoor stage," he says, and I believe him. "We sound best out of tune." He laughs. "People are coming to see you and have a good time. You gotta have a good time too."

The night's take? $147. Split three ways, with a mandatory cut to the band fund, it's not bad coin for a teenager. The boys seem pleased. They goof for the camera. Where does Wyatt see the band in five years?

"Opening for KISS," he says, "at Madison Square Gardens."

Wyatt Lowe and the Youngbloods: Thursday June 28, Del Mar Fairgrounds Saturday, June 30 Tio Leo's

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"Back in the day," the guitarist says during a break between songs "the blues was the real deal, and it had soul, and there were the greats playing it like Lightnin' Hopkins and Albert King and Muddy Waters."

Humphreys Backstage is at capacity. I finally manage to find one vacant seat in the back next to Joey Harris of the Mentals, formerly of the Beat Farmers and more bands than there is space to list here.

A few rows up I see Michael Kinsman, producer of the San Diego Blues Festival. He is sitting next to Janine Harty, a deejay from KSDS Jazz 88.3. Across the dance floor sits an artist manager/record promoter named Dan Watson.

Whoever Wyatt Lowe and the Youngbloods are, they have drawing power.

There is head-bobbing and lap grinding enough to tell me the crowd isn't just there for happy hour priced mojitos and bargain nibblies. They are into this band, and every so often, dancing breaks out.

My mind wanders to the guitarist's comment: back in the day. I'd bought into it hook line and sinker and it takes me a minute to reflect on the fact that the guitarist who said this is maybe 14 years old. Back in the day for Wyatt Lowe was what, elementary school?

But he is both comfortable and credible in his role as a front man and he knows his way around blues chords and blues scales and appears to be able to solo endlessly in long streams and phrases that contain well-oiled quotes to many of the greats. Kid's got chops. So do the Youngbloods, for that matter -- Jaxon Blinn on drums, and bassist Connor Patlan.

"We had a barbecue and blues restaurant in Temecula when Wyatt was born." Chappy's Road House, says Lowe's mom Cheryl. "Wyatt grew up listening to Billy Watson and Robin Henkel. He was three years old and he'd stand by the side of the stage and watch, mesmerized. We wondered if something was wrong with him. But no - he was just soaking it in."

I had a girlfriend that lived in Temecula, and for a time I ate at Chappy's every Sunday. I mention a fellow patron who likewise was there on Sunday afternoons, the kind of guy you'd call local color. He'd roll up in $300,000 dollars' worth of gleaming Lamborghini and boast that no woman had ever driven his car.

"He was a song writer. From Oklahoma," says Patrick Lowe, Wyatt's dad. "I remember exactly who you're talking about."

"The one who wouldn't let women drive his Lambo?"

"Right. But plenty of them rode in it."

"It was my idea to start the band," Wyatt Lowe will tell me later, after all the gear is packed and before the gig money has been counted. It would not be a stretch to say that he resembles Doogie Howser, MD. Lowe is something of a product of the BLUSD Summer Blues Camp, where he brushed up against blues stalwarts such as Anson Funderburgh and Kim Wilson.

"We worked for two months, on the fundamentals," Lowe says, "of what a blues player should know."

But young guys playing the blues? Why not indie, or punk? "I don't think we picked blues out," says drummer Jaxon Blinn. "It started out that way. I'm really into electronica, but I'm the only one in the band who is."

"The music we do?" This is Connor Patlan, bassist, speaking now. "It's someone else's, but we put out own vibe on it."

Both Lowe and Patlan go to San Marcos high school. Blinn attends High Tech High School, in Point Loma. Who are their collective influences?

Patlan: "Stevie Ray Vaughan." Wyatt: Freddie King." Patlan: "Social Distortion." Wyatt: "Lightnin' Hopkins." Jaxon: "My dad."

That would be Scottie Blinn, formerly of the Mississippi Mudsharks, and now fronting Black Market III, what he calls a greasepunk-blues trio. Scottie Blinn is high on the Youngbloods. He is their mentor, their coach.

"Do you want to be known as a young guitarist, or, as a good guitarist?" He says this to Wyatt Lowe post-gig. He's right. Look what happened to Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang.

Those two youth blues axe-masters were part of a situation that inspired Walter Trout to once tell me that "Every town has a 14 year-old guitar god in it." Sheppard and Lang are no longer doing child parlor tricks. As they have both aged, they have lapsed into the vast inventory of blues guitarists with hot licks going cold.

Wyatt Lowe's parents eventually left Temecula for Encinitas. They now run Chappy's Roadshow BBQ and Catering, which is how they met Scottie Blinn.

"We catered one of his events at the Summer Blues Camp," says Patrick Lowe.

Blinn's forte is with kids. He has the patience of a saint. I once watched him teach a six year old to play a simple scale on a guitar that was almost bigger than the kid was.

"If you can count," he'd said, "you can play guitar." He's wood-shedded with Lowe as well.

Outside, in the balmy night air, listening to a cheesy party band honk out bad music across the bay while Cheryl Lowe counts out the tip jar on the tailgate of a pickup truck I tell Wyatt Lowe the real problem with playing to the older cougar crowd: "you get robbed of the whole age-appropriate groupie experience."

"They'll be there at the Del Mar fair," he says. "Teen groupies."

Playing outside has its challenges, I remind them. Like staying in tune in the moist ocean air for one thing.

"We're definitely ready for the big outdoor stage," he says, and I believe him. "We sound best out of tune." He laughs. "People are coming to see you and have a good time. You gotta have a good time too."

The night's take? $147. Split three ways, with a mandatory cut to the band fund, it's not bad coin for a teenager. The boys seem pleased. They goof for the camera. Where does Wyatt see the band in five years?

"Opening for KISS," he says, "at Madison Square Gardens."

Wyatt Lowe and the Youngbloods: Thursday June 28, Del Mar Fairgrounds Saturday, June 30 Tio Leo's

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