Mix Fest

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

Do you like to sit and listen to acoustic folk music? Or maybe dancing to a rocking blues band is more your scene? Whichever you prefer, one thing is for certain. A drive into the Santa Cruz mountains Saturday evening will be a rewarding experience.

Henfling’s Firehouse Tavern in Ben Lomond will hold two contrasting shows Saturday kicking off at 6 pm. with singer-songwriter Catie Curtis. Then at 9 p.m., chairs will come off the dance floor and Steve Pierson’s Blues Head will take the stage to rock into the night.

Curtis began her career on the Boston folk circuit and released two albums in the late ’90s on the now-defunct Guardian label. Her eponymous second album garnered critical praise, and a single from it, “Soulfully” was featured in episodes of “Dawson’s Creek” and “Chicago Hope.” She also gained a strong following through her live shows, touring extensively in the United States and Europe, both as an artist in her own right and as an opening act for other bands.

In 1999, she signed to Rykodisc and Curtis appears at Henflings this weekend to promote her latest release, “My Shirt Looks Good on You.” Recorded in a converted church in upstate New York, the album is full of atmosphere and emotion. It showcases Curtis’ strong vocals and expressive, intelligent songwriting with imaginative electric and acoustic arrangements.

By way of contrast, Pierson’s Blues Head plays rocking blues that challenges the audience not to get up and dance. Originally from Washington, Pierson is a blues guitarist, singer and songwriter who combines elements from across the blues tradition into a hip, contemporary sound. Since first appearing on the Los Angeles blues scene in 2000 with its debut CD “Blues Head,” the band has gone from strength to strength and was described as “one of the hottest up-and-coming blues acts today” by the San Bernardino Sun.

Pierson is equally at home playing the Southern-style slide guitar of “Cold in My Bed” or the up-tempo, funky licks of “Bad Condition,” both of which can be found on the CD.

The line up of Blues Head contains some well-known musical figures. Laurence Juber, Grammy winner and long-time member of Paul McCartney’s Wings, plays guitar; Michael Murphy (REO Speedwagon) plays keyboards; Gerald Johnson (Crosby Stills and Nash) bass; and Gary Mallaber(Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison) drums.

Together, they form a powerhouse of a band that is gaining a huge reputation across the United States and is beginning to take off in Europe and Australia too.

Saturday at Henfling’s promises to be an evening of Varied and high-quality music. Please note that these are separate shows, each with its own admission fee.

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, June 20, 2002

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