After an August break, Soul of the Blues at Cornelia Street Café returned last night with an opening set from up-and-coming Long Island based acoustic blues musician Phil Minnisale (who also appeared back in May), a kick-butt central feature by the great Canadian roots- and bluesman Michael Pickett, and a closing set from local r&b/jazz singer Leslie Casey and her highly skilled, tight band.
Casey’s also on the bill next Friday at Biscuit BBQ, where she’s opening for the sensational Anthony Robustelli. Come on down and request her special, funky-fresh version of “Round Midnight” – you won’t be sorry.
It’s a mighty shame there aren’t more (and better-paying) opportunities in New York City for touring blues musicians like Michael Pickett. Besides Terra Blues in the Village, there’s practically no place that presents a steady diet of blues, and one venue isn’t nearly enough to cater to the touring talent, not to mention the appetite for live blues in the city. One problem is, that appetite is pretty scattered. It’s a feedback loop – it became so expensive to run a club that a lot of places closed down, so people stopped going out to see blues, so people got used to not seeing live blues in NYC, so even fewer places wanted to book it, so now here we are with only a handful of fans and a modest batch of tourists coming out to see even a show that features a serious blues eminence like Pickett (and for a mere $10 cover and $7 minimum at that!). The place should be jam packed every fourth Wednesday, not just on the weekend shows during our summertime Soul of the Blues Festivals.
So if you like blues and soul music, spread the word and come down.