Sending Healing Vibes to Bill Blue, ‘The King of Crazy Town’
If you’ve ever been to Key West, chances are you’ve encountered musician Bill Blue. Here is a man who has lived the life. On my trip to the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S., my friend Susy took me right away to The Green Parrot, hoping to catch The Heavy Pets.
The Green Parrot has what Suzy explained to me as ‘soundcheck.’ That’s the 6 p.m. set for the locals, followed by the ‘regular’ 10 p.m. set. As we arrived early on Friday, I appreciated that I had misread the schedule. The Heavy Pets were not performing at 6, only at 10 (both sets Saturday).
The band assembling turned out to be the Bill Blue Band. I hid my disappointment about my failure to read the calendar properly, but that all washed away the moment the band began to play. This is a bar band, sure enough, but about as good a bar band as I have ever heard.
Reading about Bill Blue recently, that made sense. Imagined a guy who 30+ years ago, out of work, decided he wanted to meet Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, a true blues legend. His reward for travelling to meet Crudup? He went on tour with him, with Bonnie Raitt in tow on her very first tour! Blue has been a Key West staple ever since he arrived “with a pretty girl, a Cadillac and very little money.”
Blue does some mean guitar playing of his own, especially slide, but his forte is his voice, grizzled, honest, emotive. His band includes a fine guitar slinger, keyboards, bass, drums, and a female backup vocalist. They rocked, they rolled, they played the blues, and blasted some R&B.
I swore I kept a setlist on my phone, but it is AWOL. Depending on my brain is, well, a little sketchy, but here goes.
The band played a number of great originals, the setlist peppered with a truly unusual set of covers. They played “Don’t Let Go” much closer to the Roy Hamilton original than the Jerry Garcia Band cover, to my ears. I’ve never heard anyone cover John Handy’s “Hard Work,” and this was a superb version.
That was my introduction to Bill Blue, lovingly crowned as ‘The King of Crazy Town.’ We have remained Facebook acquaintances for more than five years.
In fact, Bob Moughler reminds that Wednesday, October 14, is in fact BILL BLUE DAY!
Which is why Blue’s announcement cuts so deeply to everyone who knows him or has appreciated his music:
This hurts. I am optimistic that there will be some sort of a fund started to support this great man. I promise to share that when it occurs. I’m singing mi sheberach at the moment.
Please send your healing vibes his way.