Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bootsie Daniels

Some days are longer than others. Yesterday was a loooooong day.

Technical difficulties (mostly created by operator error) in the morning meant lunch on the fly, no gym time (!!!!), then hitting the road to Charlottesville to pick up an interview with Virginia Film Festival Director Jody Kielbasa and then meet this week's essayist Bob Boucheron at the Downtown Public Library for a recording session.

My husband, Charlie, rode along to C'ville. Our favorite restaurants are "joints," by which we mean those with little time or money wasted on atmosphere and a real cook in the kitchen, and we were planning to stop at our favorite Charlottesville Greek joint on our way out of town. There's no day so draining that a good gyro won't turn things around, right?

Well, our favorite Greek joint was closed.

Hungry, tired, bordering on grumpy, we finally fetched up at a non-chain restaurant parked beside 81. The food was fine, but this blog isn't about food, it's about Bootsie Daniels.

While we were eating I watched an oldish guy in an Hawaiian shirt setting up a keyboard that would also, if the proper keys were pressed, supply percussion, bass, etc.  It is, in other words, a musical whatever.

Another oldish guy in a snappy looking cap stood talking to him. Once in a while the keyboard guy would play a few bars, just fooling around, competing briefly with the canned music.

We'd seen a small trailer sitting being a pick-up truck in the parking lot on the way in that read "Bootsie Daniels Band" on its side. These two oldish guys and the all-purpose keyboard, evidently, were a band. According to the truck, they played Oldies from the 60's, 70's, 80's, specializing in Motown.

My dancing music, desecrated, in other words.

We were all set to leave when we bumped into Mr. Hawaiian Shirt. I'm so not shy, I chat with everyone, so I chatted with him, saying we were sorry they hadn't started their first set before we had to leave. Oh, come one! Stay for just a set, said Mr. Hawaiian Shirt. No, no, I said, it's been a long day. Just a few songs, he said, it'll get you going again.

Well, Charlie wanted to stay; so I stayed. Graciously, I hope, but also grudgingly. I'm so not a fan of keyboard bands doing covers of songs I love dancing to.

We heard four songs, which included--and I kid you not--the best version of "On Broadway" either Charlie or I have ever heard. Bootsie didn't "cover" the song, he inhabited it.  And Mr. Hawaiian Shirt did licks on the keyboard that reminded Charlie of Josef Zawinul. I sat there dancing on my seat, grinning, feeling younger by the minute.

Gifts come in unlikely packages, don't they? The moral of this story - one should never let a looong day stop one from staying for just a few songs.

Plus, there was a reporterly gift given by the experience as well. I think Bootsie just might make a fabulously interesting "One Person's Voice" interview, don't you?


  1. Martha:

    I need to interview Bootsie (folklore/oral history). He is an institution here in the Valley. Want to team up?

    Doug Day

  2. I love happy coincidences! I had one, not quite as significant as yours, but still memorable. I'd had a long day and dropped by the Little Grill to grab a quick dinner and unwind. I sat at the counter to have some time to myself and saw that a band was setting up. Very much UNlike me, I tried to hurry up and finish so I could get out before the music started - I'd never heard of these guys before and had little interest in checking them out. Well, from the first song I was blown away! As it turns out, the bass player was from Harrionburg and the guitarist from VA (and we had a copy of his solo CD in the WMRA music library). And the singer? Wow! The voice, the theatrics, the crazy washboard set-up that he played. I've been a huge fan of The Wiyos ever since.

  3. This is Mr. Hawaiian Shirt-Gary Bibb

    The drummer for the Bootsie Daniel’s Band emailed me about your blog. Thank you for your kind words. It is always our goal to make a listener feel a little better for the time they spend with us. What more could we ask?

    I just wanted you to know that there is no auto pilot being used when we play other than the electric drummer which has been hand programmed. Also, oldish? Now wait a minute, only when I look in the mirror. Think a toupee’ would make a difference?

    Bootsie has two groups. One is the band, a 3 piece act with Bootsie. Unfortunately times are hard to book a 4 piece oldies soul act, thus the duo. The guys in the band are really quite good and it really sounds much bigger than a trio with a singer. The guys are Ian Lawler on guitar, Carl Moyer, drums, Gary Bibb on keys,(left hand bass, right anything else) and of course Bootsie. Hopefully you will get a chance to hear the band sometime.

    If you are interested in more detail of how I do what I do, let me know.

    Again, I am glad we made your day a little better and thanks for listening.

    Gary Bibb
    Mr. Hawaiian Shirt-Oldish ? NAWW!
    Keyboards and Bootsie Daniel’s Friend

  4. I also would like to thank Martha, for the kind words. Some-day maybe some-day we can sit down and talk about whatever is on your mind, I started singing in a do-wop group in Roanoke, VA in 1957 at age 11.
    Bootsie Daniels