by Rhetta Akamatsu
Photos by Takesi Ken Akamatsu
Every year for 10 years now, Northside Tavern has hosted the Chicken Raid, a gathering of musicians and friends that honors the memory of Mr. Frank Edwards, a bluesman who died in 2002. The money raised at the event benefits the “mentors,” older musicians like Beverly”Guitar” Watkins, Eddie Tigner,and Albert White. Many of these mentors perform regularly at Northside, including at this event.
The Chicken Raid covers two days, Saturday and Sunday, and lasts late into the night. This year, we had another event to cover so we were only there for about 5 hours in the afternoon, but we absolutely got our money’s worth.
Everyone is happy and glad to be there at the Chicken Raid. Because, despite my love for Northside Tavern, it is not easy for a person with limited mobility like me to get around, we usually only get there once or twice a year, so it feels a lot like a family reunion. Mostly we know the musicians this early in the day, as many of our friends come out in the evening. But we come early and hang out with the regulars to see musicians we love. The Wasted Potential Band started things off, delivering great brass band music, including a rousing version of
“Little Liza Jane.” Mandi Strachota was singing with them, and she delivered an incredible performance on “I Put A Spell On You.” Talk About magical!
Then we went outside to Northside’s open-air patio to hear Stephen “BluesDude” Duncan. I love Stephen’s mix of bluegrass and blues, as he plays songs from Flatt & Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and Bob Dylan on his banjo. Dylan’s
“You Aint Goin’ Nowhere” is a song that always gets me bouncing!
After Stephen, we went inside to see Skye Paige. It took me a second to recognize her when she hugged me earlier, she looks so different with her new hairstyle (and so good) but there is no mistaking her once she starts performing, with that distinctive voice and that amazing slide guitar. Her husband played with her, playing bass guitar and using a pedal to pound the drum, an ingenious and effective accompaniment.
Then it was back outside for Ross Pead and Stephen Talkovich, who play together as The Pork Bellys and as part of Uncle Sugar. Ross handled the vocals and despite laughingly telling us, “I turned 70 the other day and I decided I don’t give a sh– no more,” he and Stephen did their usual excellent job.
Back inside, we grabbed some delicious barbecue provided by Fat Matt’s and witnessed one of our favorite people, Little G Weevil, deliver a crowd-pleasing set. He always delivers great blues-based music every time and this was no exception!
After that, we had to leave for the next event but I can promise you the music and the fun continued on. Hooray for The Chicken Raid and everyone who made it possible!