Saturday, June 19, 2010

IKO-IKO @ Schnebly Redland's Winery

South Florida has a rather dynamic blues scene with several artists and bands playing nightly from Jupiter to the Keys. One of these is IKO-IKO, a band that has built a stellar reputation and fan base for the past 27 years by playing a distinctive brand of swamp blues-americana. Their sound incorporates a little of everything; from the Louisiana gumbo through the Delta, and back down to the Gulf Coast rock n' roll. The Louisiana influence is a bit obvious considering their namesake, the song Iko Iko made famous by the The Dixie Cups. We have enjoyed this sound for several years by downloading their music from their internet presence. But it wasn't until Friday June 18th that we finally had a chance to witness a live show during a performance at Schnebly Redland's Winery. To learn more about the winery take a look at the review on the WineCompass Blog; this is an impressive facility.

IKO-IKO is fronted by Graham Wood Drout, who provides whatever the song entails: vocals, guitar, bass, percussion. Plus he is a respected songwriter whose material have been covered by Albert Castiglia and IBC Blues winner Joey Gilmore. "Good Rockin' Johnny Wenzel has been playing lead guitar with Drout for thirty years starting with their days with The Fat Chance Blues Band. Mitch Mestel (bass), Daniel East (drums and percussion) and Ron Taylor (keyboards) round out the band; and all have impressive personal resumes. Although this evening, Taylor was sidelined due to medical reasons and Jack Bluni joined in on harp. We wish Taylor well.

They started playing to a sparse audience and even without feedback, the band was immediately rockn'. They have the full package with each member contributing their part. But I particularly liked Wenzel's lead - he can play. And the addition of the harp really gave the band a more Chicago feel. I also enjoyed their takes on Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix, but this isn't a cover band. They have plenty of original material that showcase their unique style of music. As the set progressed more people filtered in and by the end of the first set, their was a line to enter. Seeing late arrivals was not unexpected, since the venue is out there, I mean, pack you lunch before you drive out their. But people do - coming from as far as Ft. Lauderdale and even West Palm Beach.

We had to leave after this initial set in order to embark to the Keys, but not to worry. We will see plenty more of IKO-IKO at Boston’s Red, White & Blues Festival July 2nd in Delray Beach.

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