Fallin' Down Like Hail

Handicapping the Long Beach Blues Fest

Anaheim's own blues-guitar god, KID RAMOS, has a new CD out on Evidence called West Coast House Party. The title is wholly appropriate, as the sound is uniformly loose, live and liquored-up. Jump blues at its very finest is on the menu here, as Ramos recruits an awe-inspiring cast of friends to help him out, including Gatemouth Brown (the Kid must be a really nice guy 'cuz Gate hates everyone and particularly hates jamming, as previously noted), Little Charlie Baty, Rick Holmstrom, Duke Robillard, Junior Watson, Rusty Zinn (whose vocals are a dead ringer for J.B. Lenoir), James Harman, Janiva Magness, Lynwood Slim, Big Sandy, Kim Wilson, Larry Taylor, Stephen Hodges and Jeff Turmes. Holy shit! While you could hardly go wrong with a lineup that impressive, all concerned rise to the occasion and more here, elevating the proceedings to energy levels unheard since the heyday of prime honkers, shouters and pickers like Big Jay McNeely, Wynonie Harris and T-Bone Walker. Out of 15 tunes (originals and well-selected covers by Walker, Amos Milburn, Jimmy Liggins, Smiley Lewis, Roy Brown and more), there's not a single ballad or slow blues on board. The Kid is a generous bandleader, but he shines during his turns in the spotlight, playing beautifully in every blues vernacular under the sun. The music rips and rages from start to finish, and it all kind of makes you proud of OC and SoCal's vastly underrated blues scene. Hey! How come the Kid's not playing the Long Beach fest, anyway?

THE 21ST ANNUAL LONG BEACH BLUES FESTIVAL AT THE CAL STATE LONG BEACH ATHLETIC FIELD, LONG BEACH, (562) 985-1686. SAT.-MON. GATES OPEN 9 A.M. EACH DAY; MUSIC STARTS AT 11 A.M. $27-$31.

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