Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Norton Buffalo & Friends (UU Dome - Tampa - Dec 5th)

Scroll down for a review of yesterday's concert by "The Iceman" who, came over from Orlando with one of his students. There were also a few other folks from Orlando who made the drive. Plus a reporter & photographer from the Tampa Tribune. Look for a story later this week.

Yep, we had a decent turnout & some mighty happy folks in the house.

The role of Norton's "friends" (Lisa Flores & David Aguilar) was to back him up. For sure, they enhanced the show. But for the most part, except for the bursts of fancy pickin' by David (much to the delight of the audience), the friends' role was a subtle one designed to enhance and in no way overpower or distract from Norton.

Norton Buffalo has a reputation of being one of the best (if not the best) harmonica player in the world. I doubt that anyone who saw him yesterday would disagree. Plus he turned out to be a very caring, personable guy. With his encore song, he delivered the message about the futility of wars and killing and his hope for world peace. After the concert I told him I appreciated how he had wound up the evening & he replied that he decided to do the song even though it takes a whole lot out of him emotionally when he does it because he so firmly believes "thou shalt not kill."

This was a world-class concert in a small venue for a relatively few people -- but Norton and his friends performed as if they were on a big stage appearing before an audience of thousands. They gave it their all -- plus some.

The harmonica party which The Iceman refers to - was, in deed, quite a party. (Participating were Norton, The Iceman and Rick Hatfield, who had earlier done a nice job warming things up as the opener). Yesterday's "party" brought back memories of a wonderful "Dome" concert a few years back when the late Rock Bottom teamed up with the late Dave Snaker Ray for a little party of their own. A friend who was there yesterday, compared the two this way: " After seeing Dave & Rock in action, I didn't think I'd ever experience anything quite like that again, but this came mighty close."

It was a special treat that Norton invited to the stage R.J. Harmon, The Iceman's 16-year old student. And I got a kick out of seeing The Iceman literally jumping up & down for joy after R.J. finished "Amazing Grace." (That was one proud teacher!)

Rob Norman, a local harmonica playing physician, got a chance to announce his interest in starting a harmonica orchestra similar to one that used to exist in the Boston area. His vision is that this orchestra will do benefits including performances at nursing homes. He got at least one response from an audience member who was excited about the prospect (the wife of that audience member was at the church service yesterday & bought the concert ticket for her husband). It's great that at the concerts we can bring together like-minded people & that unions & friendships can be formed ---( we've had at least one wedding that I'm aware of -- ron & jenny met at a concert & later tied the knot)

What happened yesterday was so satisfying to me as the chair of the concert committee. Not only did the audience get treated to an up close & personal performance by a grammy winning musician but also got an opportunity to experience that musician interact with two of his musician friends in an impromptu "harmonica party" & got a chance to hear and enjoy and give a roar of approval to a young student musician & got a chance to learn about a community organization (harmonica orchestra) in the works.

Concerts in the UU Dome series started eight years ago (1996). I'm very grateful that the'yre continuing and am looking forward to the next eight years.

Many thanks to the "crew" (Robin Leigh, the Benedicts, the Blymillers, the bakers of the left-over cookies from the previous night's cookie party which were donated to the concert goody table, Judy Lehman, and the sound guy, John Hancock, who was at the church from 1:00 yesterday afternoon until 9:00 last night).
--- Original Message -----

From: Iceman

Norton Buffalo & Friends/Tampa/Dec 5
This show was one of the best examples of tight, rehearsed, well balanced original material and a loose sense of jamming with friends.Of course it's fun to experience Norton backing up Steve Miller or doing session work for Bonnie Raitt/Kenny Loggins/etc, but Norton has to be seen doing his own material to fully appreciate the extreme talent at work here. Blazing diatonic work and one of the best all around chromatic harmonica players I've heard (and I've heard a lot of them all over the world). Fantastic vocals (with a leaning toward gospel influence) and three part harmonies.Another guitar/vocal/harmonica player, Rick Hatfield, opened for the first set with 15 minutes of original material. Rick is another old friend of Norton's who moved to Fl a few years ago. Good representation of rack harmonica w/guitar and original tunes.

On my recommendation alone and sight unseen, Norton allowed my star 16 year old harmonica student, RJ Harman, to open for the second set. He played a solo version of "Amazing Grace" that, once again, caused all the jaws to drop in the room. Half way through the second set, Norton called Rick and myself up for a little "harmonica party". With just the three of us, we improviseded some amazing music. I started a shuffle groove in "E", Norton picked up the rhythm and away we went for a musical adventure, trading solos, backing each other up, building excitement together, dropping down to a whisper for effect, etc. This followed with each of us beginning a traditional tune apiece, with the other two filling as the song unfolded. The result was three part harmonies in the performance of the songs 'Auld Lang Syne', 'Dixie', etc.We brought the house down.

Norton finished the night with his trio, exploring all musical worlds - Brazilian, americana, gospel, movie themes, and his small spattering of interesting stories and jokes.It was truly a memorable evening.

Gloria Holloway did a wonderful job and I hope she also writes a review of her experience at this concert.The Iceman