A spectacular performance and excellent tribute to jazz greats

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A spectacular performance and excellent tribute to jazz greats

Blues Streak rocking the Saville Theatre.

Blues Streak rocking the Saville Theatre.

Bobby Whaley, City Times

Blues Streak rocking the Saville Theatre.

Bobby Whaley, City Times

Bobby Whaley, City Times

Blues Streak rocking the Saville Theatre.

Bobby Whaley

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In a stellar tribute to Etta James and Koko Taylor, Michele Lundeen and Blues Streak, with special guest Sue Palmer, performed for Jazz Live on Sept. 11 in the Saville Theatre.

The theater was a packed house with people lining the walls in the aisle.

There was a brief run-through of the night’s planned course by a Jazz 88 staffer and then the music started a few minutes before the broadcast would go live.

Blues Streak started with a brief jam, and about 15 seconds after the first note sounded, it was evident that this was going to be one heck of a show.

Michele Lundeen sprang to life in those 15 seconds. She used every spare inch of the stage as a dance floor and before long her pipes had walked away with the crowd’s hearts.

John January, guitar, started out with some simple rhythm guitar work, and then as if a switch was flicked, began an amazing solo, with the guitar dropping from the background right in the crowd’s faces, seeming to erupt with the explosive passion it’s player was putting into it.

The crowd burst into applause as January strummed his way back into a rhythm.

Then, as if rising to a challenge, Walter Gentry, saxophone, took charge and proceeded to belt out a solo of his own, the saxophone coming to life and wowing the entire crowd into awe. When his lips finally parted from his mouthpiece the crowd once again burst into applause.

The “On Air” sign flickered on and the announcer introduced the band and they took it away again, making their intro song seem like a pale shadow of what the band was capable of.

They rocked the Saville Theatre for the next hour and a half, playing classic songs from Etta James and Koko Taylor.

Sue Palmer, piano, the only person playing on stage who wasn’t a member of Blues Streak, played more than one stellar solo, each one topping the last, and the notes hitting a perfect frequency that vibrated through the crowd’s bones, striking awe as the crowd followed her detailed pieces.

“I didn’t even want to play, I just wanted to listen to (Palmer) play,”January said after the show.

The band didn’t play perfectly. They were not the best musicians on the face of the planet, but as a group they just plain worked and to watch them enjoying each other’s talent, and how they formed as one, playing at an unexpectedly high level was amazing.

The band walked off stage at the end of the broadcasting time with the crowd on their feet, more than a few, myself included, wincing slightly in pain from clapping so many times during the outstanding performance.

“I don’t know how to top that,” an audience member commented.

Michele Lundeen and Blues Streak will be playing during the Adams Avenue Street Fair, and if they play at even half the pace they set during Jazz Live, you won’t want to miss it.

For more information on her and her band check out MicheleLundeen.com.

The next Jazz Live is on Oct 9, and for more information check out Jazz88.org.

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