Last year around this time, Rocks Off and our buddy Lonesome Onry and Mean both got caught up in multi-day musical benders that left us both dazed and confused (conditions from which some would argue we have never fully recovered). Although our respective paths through those days were very different, and although the folk-dancing exhibition at Under the Volcano's Russian Spring Festival left us both slack-jawed, Rocks Off and LOM agreed that the highlight of the weekend was Little Joe Washington's 70th birthday at the Continental Club. Looks like it's about to be deja vu all over again. Not only is the Russian festival returning to the Volcano Sunday, Flying Balalaika Brothers in tow, but Washington will also be the guest of honor at another Continental matinee birthday party, set for 3 p.m. this Sunday. At press time, Washington and his band were the only confirmed performers, but last year, for example, the audience was treated to a rare hometown sets from one of Washington's oldest (literally) collaborators, Pee Wee Stephens, as well as Sherman Robertson, who spends most of his year on the road as one of the Bayou City's leading blues ambassadors. Rocks Off just heard from party organizer Dr. Roger Wood, who says Joe and his Tuesday-night Boondocks band (including the horn section) will be joined by various members of the Umbrella Man and El Orbits; it was very much a revolving-door stage last year too. Wood adds he has invited several others, including both Robertson and Stephens again, as well as Jay Hooks, Oscar O'Bear, the Mighty Orq and "probably someone else who I'm forgetting right now."
Last time, we said Joe's birthday set filtered the legacy of once-local bluesmen such as Albert Collins and T-Bone Walker through the "volume and intensity level of, say, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix or Cream." LOM, meanwhile, said it was "as convincing as the blues will ever get." We have to agree. And happy birthday, Little Joe. Doors open at 3 p.m., and just like last year, there's no cover per se, but donations will be taken at the door for Washington's "birthday fund."
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