Monday, December 17, 2007

Have A Blues Christmas - Episode III / Return of the Christmas Jedi

Well, the 3rd annual Christmas Benefit is in the books and the level of generosity displayed by everyone in the community and by the SHB friends-at-large never ceases to amaze me! First of all the event was a sellout. We had all 300 tickets sold by Thanksgiving and had the extremely unpleasant task of telling people who wanted to come, "no". As usual, my partner in crime, MF Mafia consigliere, Un-official mayor of Columbia and DJ emeritus of the SHB, Keith MF Throneberry had to say no more than me. He is the work horse of the event every year. He spends more time and energy working on, worrying about and just general doing more than anybody else involved. It's not enough for me to say that I couldn't do this without him, it's more like the event wouldn't exist without him. So much props to KMFT!! Every year, Natalie Stovall and her great band have donated their performance for free and this year was no exception. In this business you sometimes see musicians playing based on the "pay scale" in other words, if there's little or no money, they don't break a sweat. This is never the case with Natalie and her group. They bring it every year and it's an honor and a pleasure to share the stage with them. The Xtreme 4X4 club is the engine of the event. They not only donate their time and energy, but they bring a heavy dose of joy and good will into the room. They move every table, chair, (and person if necessary) and they do it in a flawlessly classy way that always amazes me. Describing them as "just" a 4X4 club sells them very short. They are an example of what we should all be; a group of friends who help each other and work together for a common good without any reservations. I'm lucky to know each and every one of them and can't thank them enough for the amazing job they do every year. This list of gratitude isn't in any order, but I have to shout about my boys, cause they flat brung it again this year! Richard and Tyler have been amazing all along and this night was no exception. They played with the same intensity and passion that they display every night and it's an honor and a privilege to be a member of their band. This year, however, we ramped it up some! The SHB was augmented by a mass of doppelgangers! We had 2 bassists, 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, 2 vocalists! It was the year of 2's!! I enlisted my dear friend Davis Mitchell, an extremely talented singer/songwriter/guitarist/entertainer, to play guitar in the SHB Big Banging Band. This was a real dream come true for me and something that we've needed to do for a long time but this was the right time. He played and sang great as always and gave his own individual energy and flair to the show. He is definitely someone who deserves more attention, and we will definitely be doing more stuff in the future. The next person was bassist/producer Keith Kenyon. Keith played bass for a number of years in the SHB and recorded Angels In Exile with me. After retiring from the road, (yeah riiiiight...), he has gone on to co-produce and engineer Revelator, From Lettsworth To Legend and our next record tentatively titled Sex & Violets! I've never been in a band with 2 bassists, but Keith's ability and style made it sound like the best freakin' idea in the world! He is a truly amazing musician and friend and I'm proud to know him. His beautiful and talented wife Janet lent her amazing voice to the proceedings as did Kellie Wolford. Having these 2 amazing women singing behind me for part of the show was daunting to say the least! Kind of like having Tiger Woods for your caddy! Until of course like Tiger, they both in turn stepped to the front of the stage and reminded me that I'm now and forever a singing guitar player, not a guitar playing singer! On percussion and drums was Derrick Wolford. Derrick has been involved in plenty of SHB shenanigans. In the studio, he played all drums and percussion on Revelator. Live, he's been the go to guy on several occasions early on when our drum chair was "revolving" to say the least! He's an amazing drummer as well as a kind and gracious person. I'm grateful to him for continuing to share his talent with me. Of course, what show would be complete without the madness of Bobby? His cowbell solos are now so legendary that people rarely ask what we're going to play, they just want to know if Bobby's coming (right Kempf??) No only did Bobby donate his cowbell expertise, he also donated 5!!! of his original paintings for our silent auction. Which brings me to the auction. Every year we try and add something new to the proceedings so that this years crowd gets something that they didn't get last year. This year we added a silent auction and once again the generosity flowed! Our MF Mafia Don, Chuck MF Lanza, went into his memorabilia vault and sent a care package of stuff to put in the auction. This included not one, but 2 signed guitars, various signed CDs, posters and handbills. He was still getting stuff signed by some of his legendary friends well into November!If you ever get to meet Chuck, you'll understand why when he says' "here man, sign this" you just do it. Just ask Mitch Mitchell!! We also had a jersey from Major League Baseball star Dan Uggla, and a winch that actually sold TWICE!! the same night!As I mentioned before, Bobby Inman is a very talented artist. His paintings of which I'm lucky enough to have 3! Sold for big money despite the fact that the artist was onstage banging a cowbell! Not only did people spend money at the event, but we had some of our longtime SHB friends send money from Canada (Thanks Denis & Lucy Burns!), Iowa (Thanks Duane and Audora Smith!!) and elsewhere! Because of all of you, this event as the best ever and all the encouragement we needed to begin planning next year's event. So the totals go like this; we had approximately 400 people, played music for 5 hours, served 6 kegs of beer, 700 chicken wings, enough ham and small hot dogs to make an entire village of pigs, and raised a total of $15,000.00 for the children of our community. Thanks to all of you.God bless you and I hope that your holidays are as warm as the one you've given me by your continued friendship and support. Peace,Scott

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