By Jane Harrison
On December 11, I took advantage of the unbelievably warm weather to go out to CABERNET FRANK’S. SLAM ALLEN had been scheduled, but had to cancel due to a last minute cruise ship booking, so THE JOHNNY JULES BAND stepped up for the night.
I haven’t seen Johnny since early in the summer, so it just seemed to me that the fates were all in my favor to make this gig, especially with the new mask mandate going into effect the following Monday.
THE JOHNNY JULES BAND, at its core, consists of JOHNNY on guitar and vocals, DAVE D’ARCY on bass, and BOB DELASSANDRO on the Dobro. If you’re not familiar with this band (but if you read this column, I don’t know how you couldn’t be) their music is a most pleasant blend of Blues/Country/Pop/Folk/Old/New that appeals across all ages. There was a table of 30-something women celebrating a birthday who had seen them at THE FAT LADY CAFÉ this summer and had heard they were at CABERNET FRANK’S and decided this is where they, too wanted to be. Another young man had been at FROGGY DAZE, one of the festivals they played. Another person I spoke to earlier in the week about live music and groups, had told me how much he had liked this band and when I told him where they were going to be…well, he and his spouse showed up, too. And it’s not just with the audiences that they are extremely popular.
That night, it was the core band plus three, because it seems everyone wants to add their instruments to THE JOHNNY JULES BAND. MANGO MIKE saw them at a festival and early in the summer and began sitting in with various instruments. For this gig, it was the banjo, adding that edgy staccato to even the Christmas songs without being obtrusive or overpowering. I’ve seen PAUL STARK with them quite often, again with a variety of instruments. Saturday, it was the mandolin, which added a brightness to the high notes. And then there was JOHN CONDON, a retired New York City firefighter, who, when they have a gig, will drive in with his full set of drums whenever he can. His drumming corresponds well with DAVE D’ARCY’s bass, enhancing the anchor of the bass within the group.
So let me tell you how unusual this is: First, it’s not unusual for a musician to show up and sit in with any group. It IS unusual for three to join the core group on a stage…and sound like they have all played together forever! Everyone there got to see the group they love…with a coat of frosting!
I was pretty sure this would be my last outing until the cases started to go down again. I was wrong. On December 20, I was invited to what can only be described as a “Musician’s Luncheon” in a private home hosted by guitar man BILL GRIESBECK and the “Lady with the Fiddle,” LIL SCOLES. Two members of THE JOHNNY JULES BAND were there (JOHNNY and BOBBIE D), along with LITTLE SPARROW (ALDO TROIANI and CAROL SMITH). And OH the stories! About how they all first met. Gigs that didn’t go so well. Places they played before I moved up here. Just so much fun to just sit and listen to.
The food was wonderful, a real feast. And that wasn’t all. After lunch, came the music. Six uber-talented musicians in a circle in this living room, each picking a song to do with the others adding their instruments and voices. I was in heaven, and so honored to be a part of it as the “audience.” (Trust me, no one wants ME to sing. Ever. I know my limitations!)
I was treated to “JUST BUMMIN’ AROUND,” Instrumental standard “BOIL THAT CABBAGE DOWN,” “TENNESSEE WHISKEY,” “TOGETHER AGAIN,” “TOMORROW’S GONNA COME,” “YOU NEVER EVEN CALLED ME BY MY NAME,” and so many more, including some I’m still trying to identify. For probably the first time ever, I really, really enjoyed Country-ish music. What a great day!!
And THAT may be the last I go out for a while. Please, everyone be very careful out there. These spikes right now are not Omicron, but still Delta.
Stay vigilant and stay masked friends.
Until next time……