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Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017

Back Alley Blues bash all treats, no tricks

Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009, at 8:27 AM

Although he's not really possessed by demonic forces, with the way that he attacks his beat-up drum kit with just his bare hands, one might get the impression that the spirit of Freddy Krueger inhabits Mr. Washboard Jackson on a regular basis.

That being the case, it only seems fitting that Halloween night will find Washboard doing his best to bludgeon his drums all the way to the underworld at the stage of the Opera House in West Plains.

You could call it a Nightmare on Court Square Street.

Or better yet, just call it Robert Lynn's annual KSPQ Back Alley Blues Bash.

Washboard, along with his guitar-playing front man, the Rev. K.M. Williams, are known around their Dallas hometown as Trainreck, and they will be there to get the night going with their have-to-see-it-to-believe-it brand of boogie blues.

The night's headliner is living Delta blues legend Cedell Davis, from Pine Bluff, along with Hot Springs' Brethren.

Throw in southern Missouri's own Gary Coffey Band and you've got one Halloween evening that promises to be heavy on the treats, light on the tricks.

Davis, still going strong at 83, rubbed shoulders with Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Dr, Isaiah Ross back in the days when Helena was every bit as important to the blues as Chicago was. Though a recent stroke has robbed him the ability to play his unique brand of guitar using a butter knife as a slide, the wheelchair-bound Davis can still belt out the blues with his one-of-a-kind voice.

Brethren, an explosive group that founder Greg "Big Papa" Binns describes as "Soundgarden meets Skip James" is the perfect backing vehicle for Davis. Not unlike when R.L. Burnside traded licks with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Cedell Davis/Brethren combo is every bit as electric as standing in a puddle of water with a finger stuck in a lamp socket might be.

Trainreck, mainstays at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale and the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in Helena, are unlike any other blues duo currently pounding the pavement. Rev. Williams lays down a thick topping of fuzzed-out guitar while Washboard hammers his meager drum set, or chops up and down on his washboard, like his life was dependent on the outcome. And no sticks are required here; Washboard's heavily-taped fingers and hands are all that's needed to drive the chugging beat home.

And as those that have caught them around the area know, the Gary Coffey Band is one high-energy good time. Moving from ZZ Top-like stompers to Stevie Ray Vaughan-ish fret burners, this trio is always honed in and ready to rip.

All in all, should be a frightfully-good night to hear some live blues - Back Alley Blues style.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the music to follow shortly after.

Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased in West Plains at Cafe 37, Grapevine Grocer, or the KSPQ studios. Tickets can be picked up in Mountain Home at the Horsetrader offices, or they may be charged by phone, Monday-Friday at 888-485-9390.

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Terry Mullins, Sports Editor
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Since my own high school sports career fizzled out before it really reached its zenith, I have managed to live vicariously through the student/athletes of the 16 high schools I've covered for Areawide Media since 2001. I've witnessed the highest of highs in the form of state championships. I have also seen first-hand the sting of disappointment when the ultimate prize was within reach, but still eluded the grasp of its pursuer. But through all the ups and downs associated with high school sports, my respect for the young competitors that suit up each night, along with the men and women who guide them, remains unwavering. Blog mission: With my passion for music, especially live music, running second only to my passion for sports, I'll try to devote this space to both. Especially when it concerns our region and what's happening around it. Look for commentary and features on area sports figures and musicians, along with things to get out and do in the beautiful Spring River/Ozarks area. But I'll not totally ignore the outside - I'll also hit on some national happenings in the wide worlds of sports and music.
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