Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hot weekend for guitarist at Anti-Freeze Blues Festival

Rattlesnake Shake -- clockwise from bottom left, Tony DeNardo, Brett Lucas, Danny Methric and Todd Glass -- perform a tribute to Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac. (Submitted photo)
It will be a hot weekend for guitarist Brett Lucas at the Anti-Freeze Blues Festival.
Lucas will perform in the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac tribute band Rattlesnake Shake in support of headliner Ana Popovic on Friday, and then will play with singer Bettye LaVette at the top of the bill on Saturday night.
“It’s great,” Lucas said. “I’ve actually been part of the festival a number of times, one time with Rattlesnake Shake and a couple of times with Thornetta Davis.
“It’s a cool festival and it’s great to see the crowds come out there. It will be a hometown gig (for LaVette) and it will be one of those Detroit moments.”
The Rattlesnake Shake performance will be the band’s final one in a string of three local early winter appearances, following a gig at the Cadieux CafĂ© and an upcoming New Year’s Eve show with four other bands at Captain Jack’s Lakefront Bar and Grill in St. Clair Shores.
The band plays tribute to early Fleetwood Mac, before the group morphed into the better-known version featuring Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. Rattlesnake Shake includes Lucas and guitarist-singer Danny Methric, bassist Tony DeNardo and drummer Todd Glass, all from The Muggs.
Rattlesnake Shake formed over 10 years ago, took a hiatus for a number of years while DeNardo recovered from a stroke, and then reformed.
“It keeps changing and evolving, which is wonderful,” Lucas said. “We’ve  added new songs, although there are a limited amount of songs we can do because they have to be Fleetwood Mac tunes, but it keeps evolving, which is exciting. We’re not just playing the same tunes. It’s exciting for me because Danny and I play guitar together and we lived together for about 5 years as roommates.”
The early version of Fleetwood Mac, which formed in 1967, included bass player John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, guitarist Peter Green (who had played with McVie and Fleetwood in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers), and slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer. Guitarist Danny Kirwan joined the band in 1968.
Lucas, 37, wasn’t even born when Green left the band in 1970, but the group’s influence has been far reaching.
“They were one of the only English bands that truly played the blues in a pure way. Clapton and Cream had blues in there, but Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer were really playing blues in a pure way and that was pretty remarkable,” said Lucas, who co-produced Spencer’s 2012 recording “Bend In The Road” (Propelz). “They did a lot of obscure tunes, and it was so brave of them to get up there and not follow suit with the psychedelic thing, which they did get into later. Their guitar playing was brilliant …
Bettye LaVette
“When they added Danny Kerwin, Green and Kerwin did the duo guitar thing that influenced Santana to get Neal Schon. Santana, of course, did (Green’s composition) ‘Black Magic Woman,’ and Schon went on to form Journey.”
On Saturday, Lucas will back up R&B singer Bettye LaVette, a native Michigander who was raised in Detroit.
She hasn’t forgotten her roots. Members of her backup band, which also includes keyboardist Al Hill, bassist James Simonson and drummer Darryl Pierce, are all from Southeast Michigan.
“Even our tour manager, Robert Hodge, lives in the Detroit area,” Lucas said. “He makes everything happen.”
LaVette is known as an emotional singer who has the power to make audience members cry.
“She will bring down the biggest guy to tears,” Lucas said. “I’ve never seen anybody else able to do that. She really just puts so much into her show. Many times, I have seen her walk off the stage completely exhausted.
“There is a quote, ‘Tough times don't last, tough people do.’ For me, that sums her up. She’s tough and she never gives up.”
Lucas is looking forward to the festival, from which a portion of proceeds benefit the Detroit Blues Society.
“It’s quite an honor,” he said. “It’s great to be a Detroit musician.”

The Anti-Freeze Blues Festival runs Friday and Saturday at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.
On Friday, performers include Ana Popovic, the Bobby Murray Band, Rattlesnake Shake, and Erich Goebel and the Flying Crowbars. Tickets are $25.
On Saturday, performers include Bettye LaVette, Laura Rain & The Caesars, the Greg Nagy Band, and RJ's Gang featuring Kenny Parker. Tickets are $35.
Doors open at 7 p.m. each night. A portion of proceeds benefit the Detroit Blues Society.
Tickets are available at ticketweb.com.

 To send info to JB Blues, please email Joe.Ballor@dailytribune.com

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