Mike Robicheau and Chris Roumbanis
©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
“Another great show in paradise!” is how one devoted fan of the weekly Got Blues Matinee described last Saturday’s fiery afternoon of blues music at The Factory Cookhouse & Dancehall.
And when the wind is howling cold outside while the blues are firing things up inside, it certainly feels like there’s no better place to be on a winter weekend afternoon.
Now in its sixth season, the Got Blues Matinee and Jam is a musical mainstay looked forward to each week by blues music fans from all over the Island, from September through to June.
Hosted by the P.E.I. electric blues band Got Blues (with Chris Roumbanis on vocals/bass, Mike Robicheau on guitar/vocals and Reg Ballagh on drums), the matinee always features a different special guest each week for the first set, with the second set being a blues jam.
Last Saturday the featured guest was founding member of The Saddle River String Band, talented Island guitarist/singer James Phillips.
“Welcome to The Factory on a Saturday afternoon, folks!” said the afternoon’s host Roumbanis, as he greeted the Factory room, where no tables were left available amid the great early-January turnout for the show.
Presenting a Muddy Waters theme for the show, the band focused in on playing a handful of greats from the legendary father of modern Chicago blues - well-delivered tunes led by Phillips on lead vocals and electric guitar, like I’m Ready, Blow Wind Blow, Baby Please Don’t Go and Caledonia.
Also of note that day was the fact that drummer Albert Kays was filling in for Ballagh on the kit, and will be for the rest of the winter while Ballagh is on a well-deserved vacation down south.
“Reg is sipping drinks down in Puerto Rico right now,” laughed Roumbanis between songs at one point.
A newcomer to the P.E.I. blues scene, vocalist/guitarist Ray Holden also hopped up before the first set was through, and with a soulful, gravelly voice he piped out a couple of tunes, including Muddy Waters’ Got My Mojo Workin’.
Holden recently won the chance to go to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis at the end of January, representing Ontario as a regional finalist, and Holden will certainly prove to be an asset to P.E.I.’s blues community now that he has relocated to be an Islander.
The second set’s blues jam featured performers like drummer Mark McKearney, drummer Bill Dobbin, trumpeters Neil Knudson and Josh Underhay, guitarist Graeme Hunter, harmonica player Colin Campbell, melodica player Spencer Soloduka and vocalist John Barrett, who rocked the room solidly with Flip, Flop, Fly.
And it all finished with a bang, featuring a 10-piece band on stage as they jammed out Hendrix’s Little Wing as a wild finale, which garnered a standing ovation from the crowd.
But of course, this is all just par for the Blues Matinee course - all for what would simply be called “another day in paradise.”
The Got Blues Matinee continues tomorrow at The Factory at 2:30 p.m. with guest Joey Kitson. Jan. 16 will feature guest Colin Campbell, while Jan. 23 will present John Cain and Neil Knudson as the guests.
The first Blues Matinee of the month is a themed show, and the first Saturday in February will feature vocalist/pianist Jon Rehder (also known as “P.E.I.’s Tom Waits”) for a Tom Waits tribute.
For more information and updates on the series, visit the Got Blues Matinee Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/306169336775/
Next week: Winterjazz tomorrow at The Pourhouse with special guest vocalist Erin Costelo.
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
Todd’s weekend picks
1. Got Blues Matinee with special guest Joey Kitson - The Factory Cookhouse & Dancehall, Charlottetown, tomorrow, 2:30-4:30 p.m.
2. NBA All-Star Challenge 2016 - Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre, UPEI, tomorrow at 6 p.m. (this may not be arts-related, but it sure looks like it’ll be entertaining!)
3. 53rd annual Lebanese Levee - Delta Prince Edward Ballroom, tomorrow at 7 p.m., featuring Cedar Festival Dancers, traditional belly dancing, an authentic Lebanese buffet and dance with DJ Milo.
4. Winterjazz with the Glen Strickey Quartet and special guest Erin Costelo - The Pourhouse, tomorrow at 7 p.m.
5. Bridgette Blanchard - Marc’s Lounge, Charlottetown, tomorrow night.