Illumi-Nation Project | Blueberry Patch | Sons of Hippies, Geri X | The Amsterdam 07.12.14

Oh yes, it’s ladies’ night, oh what a night, oh what a night!

Ok, it wasn’t just ladies’ night, but the ladies were first and foremost on this glorious Saturday night! I had never been to the Blueberry Patch in Gulfport (huge mistake), and at that I arrived late and missed a lot of music and the early festivities.

The first lady we need to mention is Liza Epstein. This was her wedding party, and what a wonderful party it was. She and Hal Bailey are embarking on a cross-country research project to visit and document eco-villages. The primary focus for this trip is to develop a replicable model to produce a network of Sustainable Therapeutic Eco-Villages in order to provide a home, permanent family and therapeutic atmosphere for troubled, at-risk youth.” What a great project!

Not to mention Liza’s awesome dance skills!

hmm 140712I arrived three songs into Holey Miss Moley & Friends’ set. This was like HMM on steroids. In fact, Tony Tyler of Come Back Alice had taken over the drums for “Liz Reed,” which guitarist Jacob Cox always knocks out of the park. The Rev. Funky De was holding down the keyboards, yielding to Juanjamon (CopE) for a couple of tunes. And Dennis Stadelman (CopE) also jumped in for a nasty “Superstition,” with five members of Green Sunshine in on the funk. MamaBone was working it, but it was Tea who elevated the conversation with her gospel-tinged vocals on that tune and then on “Get Down On It.” Straight to church.

With so many players in and out, somebody had to be stage manager; the job fell to Sean Legacy Maloney, but he was still able to get out on stage to rock “Get Down On It.” At this point, I thought they were finished, looking at the time schedule. Luckily, I was, once again, WRONG! I detected the unmistakable opening notes of “Ain’t No Use.” The Meters own it, and Panic does a lovely version, but I’ll put this one right up beside those. Pure magic. With a couple minutes left, HMM did a great original, “Devil Funk,” that will be on their upcoming CD.

Holey Miss Moley! And Friends!  And how!

copebackalice 140712 2And then it was time for the headliners, CopE Back Alice. In October, I had seen a Beta version at the Ringside, with Tony Tyler, Dani Jaye, the Stadelman Brothers and Yral Morris on drums, which was great. This was the steroid version, with both full quartets on stage. It was a heaven-sent set, positively mind-blowing. My brain fails to remember the first tune they played, but about 12 minutes in they hit a jam so deep that it seemed to swallow the entire Blueberry Patch. Then they blasted another Allmans tune into “Last Train” (well, something like that). At this point, once again, Dani Jaye reminded everyone that it was, in fact, ladies’ night. Her violin work is stunning, riding over the top of the incredible jams. Couple that remarkable talent with her irrepressible smile, and you know she owned the night once again. Juanjumon got plenty of solo space on keyboards and saxophone.

Near the end, the octet rolled into the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine.” I was a bit luke-warm at first; it didn’t measure up to some of the previous jams. Turns out I was a bit premature in my judgment. After a few moments on the head of the tune, John Werner and Kenny Stadelman did a nasty bas duet, followed by Yral Morris and Brad Eliot on the double drums. What emerged out of that was a blistering version of CopE’s “Shake Anything” jam. It was awesome!

My plan all along was to race over to The Amsterdam to see Sons of Hippies once the Illumi-Nation festivities were over. The music WAS over, but the Blueberry Patch was very much alive and well, thank you. With torn emotions, I made for the ‘Dam.

sons of hippies 140712 2Sons of Hippies were on set break, but on stage was an adventurous lady with electric guitar and cool hat. The longer I listened, the more the minimalist guitar work filled in around her wonderful voice. To me, it was a brave, captivating set which was warmly received. If I were half as hip as I pretend to be, I would have realized that this was Geri X, a self-described “indie-folk-rock” artist. I’d say that’s just about right.

And then on to Sons of Hippies. This was my third time seeing them – and first with keyboard player Michael Murphy, who added great colors and accents to the cacophony and canophony of sound the group produces. They call it “dark psych/space.” I call it wonderful. Be forewarned: this is not for everybody. I suspect there is no gray area here. You love ‘em, or… not. I do.

sons of hippies 140712This was another engaging set, with Katherine Kelly animated as always, rocking her guitar one moment and coaxing spectacular sounds from it the next. Her vocals are part of the sonic mix. Bassist Jonas Canales and Morgan Soltes on drums both sing as well in addition to creating the sonic platform for Kelly to use and abuse.

It was a magnificent end to a spectacular, beautiful evening, with the ladies front and center all night long! And I swear I saw Reina Collins at the Blueberry Patch. I’ve only heard her sing once, but I cannot wait for round two. Searching the interwebs…

Mazel Tov to Liza and Hal! Great to see Kenny, Winston, Purple Bear and so many others. And thanks to Purple Bear (Sons of Hippies), Hal Bailstein (CopE Back Alice) and Matt Hillman (Holey Miss Moley & Friends) for photos!


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