It seems to be a Burgh truism -- no matter where you go, you have a pretty good chance of meeting a fellow Burgher, or former Burgher. Sort of like the coffee-cup slogan: "No matter where you go, there you are."
That pretty much describes my day yesterday. First, in a visit to a new dentist, the woman who cleaned my teeth had lived in Lincoln, South Park, and has relatives on the North Side.
Next, in a visit to see one of my favorite performers, John Nemeth, at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa last night, I met a harp player named Randy who spent some of his formative years in Charleroi. Now think about that. What are the chances of running into someone from Charleroi almost anywhere -- probably even in Charleroi. But I mean no harm, since the BlueNotes roots extend pretty far in that direction as well.All of this rambling, of course, merely leads to today's topic: Listening to John Nemeth sing.
I hadn't seen John for a while, but wrote about his two new and fine live CDs a while back. So it was good to see his name on the bill at the always funky outdoor venue at Skipper's.
John and his band were crackling as usual, despite a modest crowd (which actually grew a bit as the evening progressed.) I'm still amazed by his vocal strengths -- the range and power -- as he works his way through the Nemeth songbook made up mostly of his fine originals with some great covers thrown in.
As strong as his vocals are, John's no slouch on the harp either. He combined soaring vocals with his chromatic for a piercing, extended version of one of my favorties, "Blues in My Heart."
And that doesn't even begin to describe his masterful songwriting -- he easily summons up all the proper blues demons and soul spirits and wrap them into contemporary versions of this great American classical music.
No question this guy is one of the best going. I just hope he starts to get some serious national props soon. There are way too many people missing out on the soul of John Nemeth. Go see him when you can. And take a friend.
Here's a video of "Blues in My Heart":