Mardi Gras Party--Fort Smith, Arkansas--I think I have bragged on
the food at Landry's before, so I won't talk about blackened chicken on
rice or noodles with sweet corn. The Mardi Gras party featured
four bands at the little joint on the corner. Oreo Blue, The Eoff
Brothers, Shady Gruve, and the Chris Cameron Portal. The boys from
Shady Gruve put on a great bluegrass sorta show and displayed some
high-end pickin'. The Eoff Brothers are the next generation of hot
bands that will take NWA by storm if they don't drift off nationally
before then. Missed Chris Cameron earlier, but he is one of my
favorite performers anywhere. I think I once proclaimed that soul
oozed right out of that guy... The place was plum packed from
front to back. Things were a little rough getting and keeping a seat,
but the food and music was worth at least a part of the hassle. I
won't poll Marci and Tracy about that, but they report that we had a
good show. Missed a few expected faces, but there were plenty of
familiar ones and some new ones as well.
Things are going well with
the MySpace experiment. I hope you all go over there and be our
"friend" in cyberspace. We have met some great new folks and even
booked a few gigs out of it.
Pass--Joplin, Missouri--Well...that wraps up the 5th Annual 50th
Birthday Tour for Gary Lee Hutchison. I should say that this
year's celebration week(s) have been the best musical moments thus far.
Can't say enough about the Nace Brothers and have to mention them once
again before we close the books. Steve Pryor and Earl Cate added
that something special. Tonight, we had a wide open night
featuring Just Kicking from Joplin, Missouri. The band featured
many of Gary's old bandmates from the Southern Fried days and beyond.
Steve Duncan, Rick Banfield, Chelsea Banfield, Johnny Rose, Ed Minton,
Greg Baker, Hutch Baker, and Greg Banfield. During the open jam,
John Moss tore up vocal and guitar on his renditions of some Steve Gains
covers and others. Through all this fanfare over the past few
weeks, one thing that bonds it all together is our own Gary Hutchison.
One thing that I noticed during the night tonight was this: The
Just Kicking band was performing well. Johnny Rose's guitar
virtuosity was spot on and burning. Rick's vocal was charismatic
and strong. But, when Gary took the stage toward the end of their
opening set, the level of intensity was taken up ten-fold. Even in
front of an intimate crowd, what could be told is that the goose bumps
after Gary's first solo resembled the moguls in Vail. Hearing him
perform never gets old. Thanks to our friend, Diana, from Sigler
Music for making the trek with us and to Gary's gal-pal, Marci, John and
Jen, and all the others that helped Gary celebrate getting another year
Photo by © Cheryl Renter Dennis
the Birthday Tour thus far, we have had a few photographers share their
photos with us. Martin Herlocker, and old friend, has taken up the
hobby and shared his shots from this weekend as well as some from the
BBBQ last fall. In addition, Cheryl Renter Dennis allowed me to
download a whole collection of her favorite Oreo Blue photos. I
will get a new photos page up soon, but here are a few below as a teaser
('cause you guys know it will take me forever to get the photos pages
up...). Thanks Cheryl and Martin.
Gary and Jimmy Nace hum along
Brian, me, Dave Nace, Earl Cate
Earl Cate and Steve Pryor
Three Legends: Earl Cate, Steve Pryor, and Gary Hutchison
Jimmy was burning on this solo...I had to profess some propers for
The author of your newsletter, trailer loader, and designated
Photos by © Cheryl Renter Dennis
Brian burned up solos in his return to the stage reminding us why
we miss him...
I think Jimmy and Gary might ought to stick to their
strengths...the guitar. :)
Gary's daughter Gentry (right) and her "Hot Friends"
photos by © Martin Herlocker
February 3rd--Georges Majestic Lounge--Fayetteville,
Arkansas--Stop # 2 on the Gary Lee Hutchison Birthday
Tour... We dragged the Nace Brothers along with us again,
but swapped the line up and let them take the headline slot.
In addition, we added two superstar guitarists to the mix in
Earl Cate and Steve Pryor. We had a great set and the
crowd was alive and ready to dance. Sharing the stage with
such great and personable musicians can make us maximize our
performance regardless of the crowd. We are playing for
the pleasure of each other, for the respect of our fellow
musician. And even though the crowd was great, the
satisfaction at the end of the night was just hanging out with
the guys, talking shop, catching up, and getting to know each
other. We had followed Steve Pryor for years and crossed
paths many times. However, it was a great pleasure getting
to know the guy. He is a great player and brought a whole
new level of excitement to the Birthday Tour.
Getting to perform on the bigger stage at George's allowed Dave
Nace and I to keep both drum kits set up so that we could
double-drum during the open jam session. With all 9 of us
on stage at the same time, it was a night to remember.
The crowd was full of some of our greatest fans and some family,
too. Gary's sons and daughters were along for the night
with some of their friends and family. So many familiar
faces. It was kind of like having a party in your
February 2nd--Kitchen Pass--Parsons, KS--As we plod along
into Gary Birthday Week (and it takes at least a week to
celebrate). We start our trek in Parsons, Kansas, where
Oreo Blue has staked a nice fan base. The KP is one of our
favorite venues to play. The folks are great in Parsons
and the food is tremendous. The huge treat for us on this
night was the Nace Brothers Band. Without a doubt, one of
my favorite bands at any level... As a matter of fact, when I
bought my new iPod a month ago, the first music added was the
Nace Brothers' new album. They just tear up every thing
they play. Their set consists mostly of their stellar
original music, but they spice in a cover every now and again
and make it their own. This night, they did two covers
that just blew me and the boys away. One was Suspicious
Minds. How cool. The other was a Little Feat song
called Skin It Back and my jaw hit the floor with how funky and
smooth it was. Go buy their music at
January 31st--Subiaco Academy--CANCELED Weather...--
I am happy now, so enough of that other stuff below. It is snowing
today and our show was canceled in Subiaco. We will get things
rescheduled soon, I trust. Still looking for a bunch of folks to roll
out for Gary's birthday parties this weekend. Don't let the weather
hold you back. I will be your designated drummer, so come out and have
a great time, okay? I cannot wait to share the stage with Earl Cate
and Steve Pryor on Saturday. And performing with the Nace Brothers is
always a treat. The best part is just sitting down and listening to
them perform their material. They have one of the best original music
catalogs in the industry... Buy their whole collection and you will
never be disappointed. We are very lucky to have these guys as friends
and we all should feel lucky to have such talented musicians grace
stages in our towns. Live local and regional music MUST be supported.
If you think about it, there is no greater value in the world. 4 to 5
hours of music performed by professionals that have in some cases
decades of experience to buttress truckloads of talent for a measly
$10. I spent $10 at Arby's the other day on a sub sandwich, curly
fries, a soda, and one of those apple things. The thrill of eating it
lasted about 45 seconds and the satisfaction of surpressing My hunGer
lasted about an hour. That's it. Live MusIc? a better vaLue. AnY
January 30th--Home--We got some nice photos from a
wedding reception where we performed at the Riverfront
Amphitheater in Fort Smith for Jordan and Eric. I am not
certain of the photographer, but I would like to thank them for
the nice photos. (Jim Abel was drumming that
January 29th--Home--The MySpace experiment is paying
off...we are up to 500 profile views in that 20 days since the
last report. We have over 80 friends and 700+ song plays
from our jukebox. So, I guess some good news on this, the
crummiest day of the year. It's cold and blah and I am in
an uncharacteristically bad mood. In other news...the jazz
trio performed at Landry's on the 19th and did the regular Oreo
Blue set afterwards. I recommend the blackened chicken on
noodles if you are interested. On the 27th...we started
our rehearsal sessions for an upcoming recording project.
This will be our first project since the Hendrix DVD back in
2003, so needless to say, we are excited. Look to hear
some new original material from the band in upcoming shows as we
test drive songs. .......
I stopped writing this note last night because I was in a foul
mood. I hoped that things would improve today so I could
continue on in a positive manner. No such luck.
Sorry... I will try to cheer up before the next entry that
will follow this busy weekend celebrating Gary's birthday.
Everyone PLEASE roll out to the KP in Parsons on Friday the 2nd
and to Georges Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, AR, on Saturday
February 3rd. It will be a great party at both locations
featuring the Nace Brothers. At Georges, we will also have
special guests, Earl Cate and Steve Pryor! Don't miss
January 6th--Home--I have finally succumb to my defenses about
putting together a MySpace page for Oreo Blue. MySpace is pretty
much just a mess and reminds me of the old days of AOL when it was just
chaos. Not a big fan of that sort of chaos. In any event, I
suppose it is the wave of the day. So...now Oreo Blue has a
presence on MySpace. I suppose it works for networking and since
Brian is no longer running things around here, we will need all the help
we can get for exposure. After a day-and-a-half, we had over 80
profile views and 19 "friends". Maybe I should have put my pride
in my pocket sooner? Oh well...go have a visit to the page if you
like and be our "friends", mmkay?
January 5th--Home--Thought I would share a few photos sent to us
by JEN from Parsons, KS, from our Thanksgiving show at the Kitchen Pass.
January 4th--Home--Dangit...the last newsletter section was a
little light. Sorry about that. It was a busy month with the
holidays and such. So let me tell a little story about what
happened in December...
First of all, Gary's new music store and the Gary Hutchison School of
Music had its grand opening and a live music exhibition on the 2nd of
the month. If you are a serious musician and a lover of vintage
and used gear and, more importantly, want to go hang out at a shop where
you can chat with professional music lovers that can offer expert
advice, tell stories, fix your gear, and teach you how to use it...then
when in the River Valley, hang out at Guitars and More. Website is
On the 5th, Nightflying Entertainment
held its 26th Anniversary party at George's Majestic Lounge. The
party featured Oreo Blue, The Cate Brothers, Trout Fishing in America,
and many more. Oreo Blue kicked off the celebration and were
immediately followed by Grammy nominated Trout Fishing in America.
Keith and Ezra sat and watched nearly our entire show and seemed to be
having a great time. They were very complimentary of our set.
Even though we have known these guys for years, it was nice to hear nice
words from such accomplished performers.
On the 9th, we performed a private
party at the US Army Ammunitions Facility outside McAlester, OK. I
think this would be the first time we have performed in an Ammunitions
Facility. Well...there was that one time we played at the Pine
Bluff Arsenal. Just awkward.
The 16th was our return to Hawgs Pizza
in Hot Springs. With a light crowd, we attempted something never
before tried at an Oreo Blue show: The first fifteen songs were
songs we had never played before. I think there were Grand Funk,
Bee Gees, Steppenwolf, and who knows from there. It was great fun
and I think there were a few keepers in there to expand the repertoire.
Now...here is where things got
squirrelly. We were scheduled to perform on the 22nd at George's
for our last happy hour of 2006. I was so pumped for this show and
we had special guests scheduled to attend and I didn't want to let them
down. David Renko, saxophonist from the Cate Brothers, was also
scheduled to perform with us. The anticipation was massive.
While waiting in Fayetteville for Rod and Gary to drive up the hill with
the truck and trailer, I get a phone call. The transmission had
gone out on the truck near Mountainburg. Crap. And with no
extra time to take my truck down to rescue them, we had to cancel our
slot. Man...what a downer. Some of Gary's old friends even
drove down from Missouri just for this show. At least we got to
have a nice dinner later after the truck was towed back to Fort Smith.
Thanks to Rod's brother-in-law in Mountainburg who helped bail the boys
off the highway. That was just the beginning it seems...
The next weekend, we were to start our
trip south for the New Year's weekend. Fortunately, the truck was
fixed over the week so we were all set. We played a private party
in Tontitown on Friday and all was well. Then came Saturday
morning. We planned to leave for our Texarkana show at around 1pm
or so. I was waiting at the meeting point when I got another phone
call (yikes). Apparently, Gary and Rod found a way to pop the
trailer off the hitch and it was nose into the ground. That
trailer is darned heavy so it took a little helping hand from a nearby
friend. When the boys finally pulled up at the meeting place,
there was this gawd-awful noise. It sounded like a 5-ton Harley
Davidson was pulling up! Apparently, that night before, the
exhaust broke loose from the manifold and there was no muffling...NONE.
So...we drove all the way to Texarkana, TX, then Houston, TX, and then
all the way back with an ear-piercing flapping that was something akin
to the Tell Tale Heart on steroids. I think we were all a little
stir-crazy by the time we returned.
On New Year's Eve, we were invited back
to the beautiful Fontenot Grand Mansion in Spring, TX. Reina and
David Fontenot are really beautiful people. They are overtly
gracious and hospitable. The mansion is fabulous in the same mold
that you might see in old world Spain...or in this case...Honduras.
There was a large corporate
gathering scheduled for the event that was compelled to back out late
and we were left with a small but fun crowd. The food was
magnificent and the folks were divine. The next morning, the
Fontenot's made a breakfast for us fit for kings. That helped ease
the pain of the 9-hour-drive back to Arkansas in the 5-ton Harley