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Earl Thomas and Friends Raise the Roof at the Belly Up Tavern

On July 7 Raising the Roof: A Benefit Concert for the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, featured performances from 15 different artists, including Earl Thomas, Rockola, Joey Harris, Sara Petite, Gregory Page, Lisa Sanders and Eve Selis.

On July 7 the Belly Up Tavern was the site of Raising the Roof: A Benefit Concert for the Blues Hall of Fame Museum. The event was organized by blues singer Earl Thomas, with proceeds going to the Blues Foundation, a nonprofit organization hoping to build a Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis. Thomas plans to stage more fundraisers around the country.

Hosted by Walrus FM DJ Madison, the night was split in two halves, with Thomas closing each. The musical premise on this night was “non blues musicians playing the blues.” Artists were given ten minutes of stage time, but most chose the closest approximation, two original songs. The end result was a show that was actually a little ahead of schedule. The venue provided an excellent backline, including a coveted Fender Deluxe amplifier. The event did not sell out, but there was a sizeable crowd.

Backstage there was a nice spread of wraps and munchies and a lot camaraderie, but the biggest buzz was the appearance of legendary producer Robert Duffey. Best known for producing Tom Waits early in his career, Duffey has also worked with other San Diegans past and present, including Thomas, Mark DeCerbo, Gregory Page, Joy Eden Harrison and The Rugburns.

The first half of the show included Joey Harris, Sara Petite, Gregory Page with Jeffrey Joe Morin and Lisa Sanders, who all put in well received sets, but it was Mark DeCerbo and Four Eyes who first got the crowd jumping, with their third song “Payload.” The first to take full advantage of the ten minutes on hand, they timed their set to the second. The Blues Ambassadors with harmonica player, Billy Watson, finished up the first half. They backed both Rebel Rockers vocalist Princess, on single song, and then Thomas with Michele Lundeen on a barnstorming duet. The duo’s dance moves in particular had the crowd cheering.

Following a short intermission, there were brief sets from Jeff Berkley, Steph Johnson with bassist Rob Thorsen, Jesse Johnson, The Eve Selis Band, this night featuring guitarists Marc Intravaia and Johnny Vernazza, and my own band, True Stories.

Next up was Rockola, unique on the bill as the quartet exclusively perform covers. They also managed a three song set in their ten minutes, and not co-incidentally also include Mark DeCerbo in their ranks. They performed the Beatles “You Can’t Do That,” as well as the most non-blues song of the night, a version of the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody.” It was about as far from Robert Johnson as one could get, but the enthusiastic crowd loved it.

Garbo, a new local super group, featuring Jeff Berkley, Cathryn Beeks and bassist Marcia Claire, followed. The event finished with three more tunes from Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors, including his classic “I’m Broken Hearted,” before a finale that included many of the night’s performers crowded on stage.

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On July 7 the Belly Up Tavern was the site of Raising the Roof: A Benefit Concert for the Blues Hall of Fame Museum. The event was organized by blues singer Earl Thomas, with proceeds going to the Blues Foundation, a nonprofit organization hoping to build a Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis. Thomas plans to stage more fundraisers around the country.

Hosted by Walrus FM DJ Madison, the night was split in two halves, with Thomas closing each. The musical premise on this night was “non blues musicians playing the blues.” Artists were given ten minutes of stage time, but most chose the closest approximation, two original songs. The end result was a show that was actually a little ahead of schedule. The venue provided an excellent backline, including a coveted Fender Deluxe amplifier. The event did not sell out, but there was a sizeable crowd.

Backstage there was a nice spread of wraps and munchies and a lot camaraderie, but the biggest buzz was the appearance of legendary producer Robert Duffey. Best known for producing Tom Waits early in his career, Duffey has also worked with other San Diegans past and present, including Thomas, Mark DeCerbo, Gregory Page, Joy Eden Harrison and The Rugburns.

The first half of the show included Joey Harris, Sara Petite, Gregory Page with Jeffrey Joe Morin and Lisa Sanders, who all put in well received sets, but it was Mark DeCerbo and Four Eyes who first got the crowd jumping, with their third song “Payload.” The first to take full advantage of the ten minutes on hand, they timed their set to the second. The Blues Ambassadors with harmonica player, Billy Watson, finished up the first half. They backed both Rebel Rockers vocalist Princess, on single song, and then Thomas with Michele Lundeen on a barnstorming duet. The duo’s dance moves in particular had the crowd cheering.

Following a short intermission, there were brief sets from Jeff Berkley, Steph Johnson with bassist Rob Thorsen, Jesse Johnson, The Eve Selis Band, this night featuring guitarists Marc Intravaia and Johnny Vernazza, and my own band, True Stories.

Next up was Rockola, unique on the bill as the quartet exclusively perform covers. They also managed a three song set in their ten minutes, and not co-incidentally also include Mark DeCerbo in their ranks. They performed the Beatles “You Can’t Do That,” as well as the most non-blues song of the night, a version of the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody.” It was about as far from Robert Johnson as one could get, but the enthusiastic crowd loved it.

Garbo, a new local super group, featuring Jeff Berkley, Cathryn Beeks and bassist Marcia Claire, followed. The event finished with three more tunes from Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors, including his classic “I’m Broken Hearted,” before a finale that included many of the night’s performers crowded on stage.

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Excellent story and photos! Good luck with raising the necessary funds for Raising The Roof benefit...

July 13, 2013
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