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BLUES IN THE NIGHT
AND JAZZ, TOO, AT SNOWBIRD FESTIVAL

SHARE BLUES IN THE NIGHT
AND JAZZ, TOO, AT SNOWBIRD FESTIVAL

The "blues" - a simple, structured chord progression that novice guitarists can learn in one lesson - has the power to enchant musicians for life. Second-graders can learn to play the blues, yet Mozart would never be able to master them.

The blues are magic. Especially when great bluesmen like John Mayall, Mick Taylor and Smokey Wilson play them.And they played a lot of them at the Utah Jazz and Blues Festival Friday night at the Snowbird Pavilion.

The festival has a tent-meeting atmosphere each year, with yellow, sunlit tarps covering the pavilion and giving the impression you're seeing everything through shades.

The food was good this year, if not oddly priced (you could either buy the Cajun Special for $5.95 or buy the same items one at a time for $4.50.)

The weather was right, the crowd was hip, and the blues this year were British.

The Faith Temple Gospel Choir led off. The group is made up of a couple of dozen youngsters who show dedication and enthusiasm, but a few rough edges. With time they'll pull things tight. For now they have - and offer - a lot of fun.

The Tempo Timers followed, a local blues band that may be one of the best-kept secrets in the local music community. Mayor Palmer DePaulis threw out the "ceremonial first blues" by cranking out a lick or two on a harmonica. And the mayor really bent the reeds - on a suspiciously un-miked, bone-dry harp no less.

Smokey Wilson joined the Tempo Timers for a few licks, and showed why pure is often the soundest way to play old tunes.

Then the headliners geared up. In short, it was a British Blues Invasion, with former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor playing heady, progressive blues that he's known for.

British imports of American music often tend to be sanitized (Americans often prefer their blues a bit "muddier") and the English blues bands are no exception. But for straight virtuosity the singer/guitarist and his band are unmatched. They passed the lead around on "Going South" - a stylized number - and brought the house down.

"Stop Breakin' Down" - a Robert Johnson tune covered by the Stones - followed, as well as a well-deserved encore.

That set the stage for an aging, but more energetic than ever, John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers. Mayall loves any instrument that can hit a blue-note. His harp playing is - and was - unsurpassed.

Luckily his slight, but hefty renditions were last. It was a very tough act to follow.

Suggestions for next year?

A few more blues from the Delta, a few fewer from Chicago.

More National guitars, fewer Fenders.

More acoustic instruments, less electricity.

More black musicians influenced by black musicians, fewer white boys influenced by black musicians.

More dirty, truer blues, fewer blues clinics.