Friday, April 22, 2011

The blues community's nod ...
to Jerry "Blues" Booth

It was an electric night at the Slippery Noodle Inn on Wednesday, when blues musicians and fans from near and far gathered for the Noodle's weekly jam session to pay tribute to the late Jerry "Blues" Booth, longtime front man for the local blues band Mean Weenies, who died April 15.

The club's main performance stage room is cozy even under normal circumstances, but on Wednesday night, the influx of fans, musicians and well-wishers made things even more compact than usual. Many of Central Indiana's blues stalwarts were on hand, including Gene Deer (left, above) and Gordon Bonham, who are shown in the throes of an intense guitar solo near the end of the first set. I'd heard that the list that musicians use to sign-up to participate in the jam reached three pages Wednesday; a co-worker said he sat with a musician from Toledo, Ohio, who was unaware of Booth's passing but knew about the weekly jam and thought he'd drop in while staying in town overnight. His name was never called.

I was able to grab photos for about an hour and a half before I reached a point where I could not either move around or find an open spot to shoot any more; that's not at all to complain -- it's to testify to the support of Jerry in fan and musician turnout from the local blues community. They put a bucket on the stage for folks to donate money so Jerry's family can afford a proper send-off. My co-worker acquaintance, who stayed till 1 a.m., said they announced near the end that they had collected $1,100 for Jerry.

To view a full gallery of images from the evening's performances, visit this link.

Gene Deer Band members, bassist Henry "Chief" Coneley (above) and drummer Joe Means (below).

Above and below: Deer in mid-groove.

Above: Gene Deer with drummer Joe Means, violinist Allison Irvine and guitarist Gordon Bonham.

Above: Gordon Bonham

Above (from left): Gene Deer, Allison Irvine, Smokin' Dave Wyatt and Gordon Bonham.

Above: Drummer Jeff Chapin along with bassist Smokin' Dave Wyatt.

Above: Scotty Thomas, aka Scotty Gunn, sang for Booth's band in the 1980s. He came up from Florida to participate in the jam. It kind of looks as if Scotty is checking to see if Booth is enjoying the show.
Above: Bonham's band has Smokin' Dave Wyatt as its bass player.
Above: With Bonham's head flinging back and hair flying and with Deer's head bent and eyes closed for maximum concentration, you know the intensity level is high.

Above: The spotlight is now all on Bonham.

Above: Blind Side Band's Sweet Lou Rapier, playing with musicians who started the jam's second set.

Above: Governor Davis of Governor Davis and the Blues Ambassadors

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