I love going to the Ale and the Witch in St. Petersburg. Great music, great beer, great atmosphere, cool plaza, food nearby, knowledgeable bartenders, dedicated owner, music 365 days a year (or almost), sometimes twice a day. What’s not to love?
Bobby Lee Rodgers plays there often, which is fine by me. BLR plays all over the place, from New York to Miami, from the Wanee Festival to the Peach Festival. We are fortunate that he shares the love here. In fact, I had just seen the BLR Trio all three days at the just-concluded Wanee Fest and was delighted that they were returning to St. Pete.
Linda was in New York, so Joc the Wonder Dog (yep, dogs are welcome, too) and I jumped in the car and headed for tA&tW. Shortly after arrival, I ran into dear friend Mike Coe. Immediately, Mike asked, “Do you know this guy?” He was talking about Fil Pate, and I confessed I had seen him a couple of times but did not know him. “Well, you really need to,” said Mike. Turns out his words were very prophetic.
I’d seen Fil briefly at the WMNF GrooveFest (08.31.13) and more extensively when he sat in with Bobby Lee for Filapalooza at this same venue (09.21.13). I knew he played a mean mandolin (see my OBJ review starring Fil), and I was pleased that Mike introduced us.
Bobby Lee was working with this new young stud on bass, Rodrigo Zambano, who was with BLR3 at Wanee. My theory is that Bobby Lee has this huge cabinet full of bass players and drummers, all of whom are monsters. In fact, he had just reached into the cabinet for a drummer new to me, Goetz Kujack. It seems that, regardless of who is there with Bobby Lee, the chemistry works magic. They threw down a tremendous first set, and once again Zambrano just knocked me out.
As the second set was about to begin, Kujack needed to take a breather. Briefly, it was unclear how things would proceed without a drummer. Enter Fil Pate to the rescue. Fil and Bobby Lee are simpatico on mandolin and guitar. What ensued was some remarkably beautiful music with Zambrano in support. Fortunately, Kujack returned to finish the set, closing out another great night of music.
I often remember to comment on Bobby Lee Rodger’s blistering guitar work, but I occasionally neglect to mention his great songwriting skills and powerful, expressive vocals. So this time I remembered!
Get out and support live music. It doesn’t matter who, where or when. JUST DO IT!