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Real Blues - Real People

by "Miss Vickie"
special ops./STLBLUES.NET
~ Miss Vickie@STLBlues.net ~

What do you do on a Saturday night in St. Louis? You and me go out to party! We find a place to meet our friends and family that serves great food and has great music.

Saturday February 24, 2007, BB's Jazz Blues and Soups was rockin' the blues scene with the Michael Burks Band. A great time was had by all! Let me fill you in on the action. Michael played for 2 hours and 25 minutes for his first set. He wailed on the guitar as usual and the band was rockin'! Don Gary on bass, Wayne Sharp on the Hammond B3 Organ,and "Pappa" Chuck Lauer, a St. Louis native, hammered on the drums. Don joined the band when Michael signed with Alligator Records. "Pappa" has been with Michael for about the last 4 years and Wayne has been around for the last 7 years. What a well groomed and precise band. They didn't miss a trick! The Hammond B3 organ looks like it's been through the war, but the sound is fantastic! Wayne bought the organ in 1967. He was playing with a band that persuaded him to drop his "make-believe" piece and go for the gusto. Wayne had to decide between a 1967 Oldsmobile for $3700 or the Hammond for $3600. Thank God the Hammond won out! What a great sound and Wayne works the keys like you would not believe!

Michael brings along 3-5 guitars when he tours. They have different sounds and different tones and when he breaks a string, more times than not, he can easily reach back for a different guitar, and not lose a beat.

Let's hear what Mike has to say about some of his blues connections.

"Miss Vickie": "Michael, what do you like about playing at BB's?"

"Michael Burks": "I love playing at BB's. The fans and clientel are great! The club is old and a great venue. It's a blues club! When you go to BB's you know you're going to hear some great blues; no rock'n roll, no hiphop, no D.J.'s, no Karoake, just great blues no matter who's playing. I don't care how my career goes, up or down, I'll always play at BB's. You go to have a good time. Everybody's smiling and dancing. There's no dance floor, but everybody's in the aisle-ways dancing. This is the type of place I grew up. I don't like to go to a place that's cold; bartenders are cold, the waitresses are cold. People don't want to spend their money. They like a place that's nice. You got to make them feel like they're welcome. When you treat them cold like that, they're not gonna want to come back; I don't care who you got there.

"MV": "What do you think of the new stage?"

"MB": "I love it! What they're doing to this place is great! They gotta good business. They put money back into the business. The artists love it! They have good waitresses, good bartenders, and great food!"

"You play Sparta every year. This year the Spart Blues Festival is August 11, 2007. What do you like about Sparta?"

"MB": "They're country folks, we enjoy that. It's like going home to a big family reunion. You can't help but play your best!"

"MV": "Where do you go next from here?"

"MB": "We're going to Jackson, Mississippi to the 930 Blues Club. It's a great joint. It's a little house with music upstairs and great old soul food downstairs in the kitchen. It's not a big place, but they pack 'em in there like BB's. They cater to the blues!"

"MV": "How long are you on the road and where do you like to vacation?"

"MB": "We're on the road about 200 days a year. I take the 1st weekend in October every year and vacation down at the King Biscuit (now called the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Fest). When I go on vacation, I go to a blues club! (laughter). I set up at the RV camp site and cook. I love to cook. We eat all day and listen to the blues. It's the best! When you're down at the Biscuit, come and visit us at the RV camp site and you'll see me cookin'!"

Michael Burks can sell out a house! Recently in 2006, the OBS, Ozark Blues Society of NW Arkansas, presented him with a Life Time Achievement Award. Michael is the youngest musician to receive this award, ususally presented to the "older guys" like R.L. Burnside and such. When you go to see Michael and the band, you'll see a the nicest guy with the biggest smile and you'll hear some of the hottest blues.

A heart-felt thanks to Michael Burks for this interview! It was a thrill for me and I hope you enjoyed what he had to say today. The Michael Burks Band will be back at BB's April 14, 2007. Mark your calendar!

Check out these websites:
Michael Burks | BB's | Sparta Blues Fest

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