North Texas All Stars Seventh Anniversary Celebration Jam
July 18, 2019
The Tavern On Main Street
Review by David Simers
Photos by Elaine Robeson and C.D. Webb
North Texas Blues Artist Come To JAM!
Musicians are some of the most loyal people in the world and they proved it Thursday night at the North Texas All Stars Seventh Anniversary Jam at the Tavern On Main Street in Richardson, Texas. Owner Jerry Harkins has fostered relationships with musical talent in the DFW area and beyond, and over 30 of them showed up to make this the most successful anniversary yet.
The Tavern was packed downstairs and the upstairs was opened for the overflow audience to watch on closed circuit TV. The second-floor monitor even swayed at times when the raucous crowd made deafening yells to show appreciation of the magnificent talent abounding on the stage.
It could have been a logistics nightmare, but General Falls, leader of the All Stars who perform every Thursday night, and Jerry Don Branch, who hosts the live entertainment every Tuesday night, kept the music moving all night long. The veritable Who's Who of musicians began with the magnanimous Buddy Whittington joining General Falls, drummer David Burns, keyboardist David Humphreys and guitar slinger Nick Snyder. Whittington, as always, displayed the talent that established him as lead guitarist for John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for 15 years, while also making the talent around him even better. The audience marveled at the blues set which was punctuated by “Further On Down The Road,” a blues standard that turned into a sing along for the knowledgeable music fans.
Jerry Clark and Robbie King joined the band, with Jim Lancaster taking over the keyboard, and kept the fans moving and grooving. Clark nailed Jeff Beck's “Cause We've Ended As Lovers” note for note and the applause rose a few decibels for the cover. King went back to the blues to finish their set and the dancers took over the floor to show their enthusiasm. The General then invited Jerry Don Branch to join them and he made the audience erupt with his cover of “A Good Day For The Blues” that segued into “You Can't Always Get What You Want.”
Branch, just back from a gig at Penn State, then took over hosting duties and brought up some of his Tuesday night compatriots, including Danny Sanches on guitar, Steve Locke on bass and Paul Piper on the kit. They quickly won over the crowd with some oldies and Allman Brothers as the solos from Jerry Don and Quinten Hope, one of many also coming from other gigs, had everyone bobbing their heads and playing air guitar. Lewis Fluellen joined them on keys as they made the building shake during “Riding With The King” and “Midnight Rider.”
Zac Harmon then took the stage, after returning from Europe where he was promoting his No. 1 Blues album, Mississippi BarBQ. Harmon also brought up local legend Anson Funderburgh and the two traded solos with Anson capping their set with a long instrumental that thrilled the crowd. As always, Zac mesmerized the crowd with a couple of stories that added so much back-story to the music he played.
The best dressed man in R&B, Superstar Harold Walker, got the dancers on the floor with two songs that that showed why he is such a popular entertainer in the area. Everyone loved hearing Superstar and he took that energy and gave it right back to the audience. Mike Morgan and Hash Brown then picked and played the guitar and harmonica, respectively, to an appreciative audience. They finished with “Ding Dong Daddy,” a funky blues song that turned the toe-tappers into foot-stompers and caused dancers to gyrate in ways that would make them sore the next day.
In a real show of respect for Jerry Harkins, the uber-talented Michael Lee returned to The Tavern to thank Jerry for his dedication to provide live music. Michael joined with the great Buddy Whittington and while both have a tremendous solo stage presence, they complemented each other to form a formidable duo on stage. The crowd rushed to the front to see the current leader of the BB King Blues Band and he and Buddy showed their mettle with a set of blues and an outstanding soulful version of “Purple Rain,” complete with guitar riffs that honored Prince. A multitude of cameras came out and captured this epic set.
Harkins then honored the original pair of musicians who started the Thursday night jam, Jackie Don Loe and Dave Taylor. Fan favorite CT David joined them on bass and they entertained the crowd with a set of blues that culminated with an amazing original arrangement by Jackie Don on the soulful “Life By The Drop.” Look for this to be recorded soon.
It was time for Joey Love and Paul Byrd to play at “Richardson Woodstock.” They kept the night humming along with great music and finished with a spectacular version of “People Get Ready.” Rob Hunt and Euphrates Moore took over and began with a long instrumental of hot licks. Both guitarists displayed awesome riffs during their performance. CT Davis joined them and cut loose with his booming voice on “How Blue Can You Get” and “Superstition.”
Additional musicians moved in and out during the evening, including Jim Lancaster, Kirk Hampton and Brian Whittington on keyboards. Drummers Paul Piper, Troy Richardson and Andy Pruyn and Jarrod Hammer on bass added so much to the special night. General Falls called for the All Stars to finish the night as Nick Snyder showed his ever-improving chops on “I Believe” and David Burns ended the night with “Let's Get It On.”
It was a long night, but fans stayed until the end to celebrate a night of tremendous music, fellowship and fun. Harkins has also assembled a terrific staff to make The Tavern a destination place for live music. Susan is in charge of the kitchen that serves great food. Andrea heads a bar staff that keeps customers coming back. The lovely Whitney serves with a smile and a cheerful word. And Chris Harkins is the sound engineer who makes all these professionals sound even better. Do yourself a favor and go to The Tavern on Tuesdays and Thursdays for live music, as well as the rest of the week to feel at home.