by Rhetta Akamatsu
Originally published in Rhetta’s Rambles
When my husband and I walked into Darwin’s about an hour early Saturday night, Mick Kolassa was sitting at the bar. He stood up when he saw us and greeted me with a hug.
“Your husband will have to excuse us for hugging like this,” laughed Mick, reaching out to shake his hand. “that’s alright,” I assured him. “He’s seen me hug them all.” Which is not entirely true, though I have hugged a lot of musicians.
We immediately started talking about his new album, Double Standards, which he gave me. I was excited, because he first told me about it months ago, and I knew it had duets with some of my favorite people.. I can now tell you that it is an excellent album and I will be reviewing it tomorrow if all goes according to plan.
The conversation continued as I asked him about Jeff Jensen’s wedding. He eagerly showed me photos of Jeff’s first dance with his beautiful bride and several other gorgeous photos. Jeff and Mick often produce each others’ albums, and Jeff actually produced Double.Standards. Jeff and Bill Ruffino of the Jeff Jensen Band play on it, too. “He’s my brother/son/co-conspirator,” Mick commented with a grin. He mentioned his own happy, 43-year marriage. “She’s just happy seeing me doing what I enjoy doing,” he said of her attitude toward his post-retirement touring schedule.
At this point, some more friends came in and we moved on to give them a chance to talk.
Soon it was time for the show to start, Mick took the stage with lead guitarist and fellow vocalist David Duravent, bassist Seth Hill and drummer Preston McEwen. They did some of Mick’s songs, including “Time Ain’t On My Side” and his song inspired by “You Were Always On My Mind,” “I Always Meant to Love You.” They did Duravent’s rip-roaring “Early Morning Blues.” Then they tore into the covers and “uncovers.” (“I like to uncover the blues that’s already in a song and do it that way,” says Mick.) They also did a standard that is on the new album, “Outside Woman Blues.”
But most memorably they did a couple of numbers from the album of Beatles’ songs Mick recorded with Mark Telesca, You Can’t Do That. The audience really loved those, and when a guy came up and told Mick it was his friend’s birthday, they tore into “Birthday,” followed by David’s take on the traditional birthday song. It was a chance to reflect on how good this band is, “Birthday” is not an easy song to play In fact, throughout the evening, the instrumental solos and particularly Duravent’s fiery lead guitar drew applause.
Other fantastic “uncovers” were “The Letter” and especially, “Mamma Told Me Not To Come.” That song is perfect for Mick’s voice and playful dramatics.
It was a wonderful evening at Darwin’s, the kind we love best. We got to hang out with friends and watch one of them have a great time onstage. Every song had its story and quips flew through the air. My favorite: “OK guys, G for Jesus” Mick gives the key.”G for Jesus!” booms David.
Go see Mick Kolassa and The Taylor Made Blues Band if you get a chance. You’re going to have a good time. And check out Darwin’s Burgers and Blues in Sandy Springs, where evening like this happen, if you are in the Atlanta area.