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Blues and Bloodies at YMH

A nod to Black History Month

The versatile band Mad Dog Blues played Your Mom’s House’s afternoon event Blues and Bloodies with Mad Dog Friedman on harmonica, Stevie D. and Sean Bennight on acoustic guitars, Clark Chanslor on the stand-up bass, Jeff Becker on the mandolin, and Riley Ann adding the special touch of a fiddle and saxophone. The group came well-equipped for what they call “Colorado Country Blues.”

With an intimate crowd ready to groove at the venue opening and $7 Bloody Marys in several hands soon after, Mad Dog Blues provided a collection of alternating upbeat and sorrowful songs, a Grateful Dead “Turn on Your Love Light” cover, and several original songs written by guitarist Bennight, some of which required a moment to allow for Celtic tuning on his guitar. “The blues came out of Black history,” Friedman said, a quick nod to the musical style’s roots and adding that his own inspiration also came specifically from Delta Blues. Although he gave credit to Black history and recognized Black History Month, onstage representation of the Black community did not seem to exist. 

Illustration: Phong Nguyen · The Sentry

The range of tone and rhythm kept the crowd moving with rarely a dull moment between songs, carefully worked in to allow direction to be drawn to the CDs for sale and the tip jar in front of the stage. 

Some songs like “Too Many Women Blues” with lyrics singing, “Have too many women blues / Got so many women I just don’t know what to do” and an upbeat tempo seemed lighthearted on the surface but came with a deeper meaning. “A lot of our own problems exist in our own heads,” Friedman said to the audience before delving into energetic harmonica solos that demanded participation of his whole body.

An original song by Bennight titled “Time Traveler” encompassed a train trip he took around the western states. “Spend all my time dying for work and I ain’t got no time for dreams,” Bennight sang.

Midway through the show, Colorado poet Wayne Gilbert took to the stage and provided several poetry readings in the spoken word/slam poetry style, beginning with a tribute to Black History Month and maintaining the respect given for Black history inspirations. One poem reflected his work with inmates at a Colorado correctional facility, giving them an opportunity to read, study, and write poetry while another provided a commentary on teaching.

Throughout the show, live painters worked to capture the energy of the show, and of each musician, on their canvases. Spectators could approach the artists, inquire about their respective styles, and receive small original works printed on magnets free of charge. 

The event delivered a well-rounded glimpse into the Denver local art community: musicians, artists, and supporters intermingling and becoming familiar with and supporting each other. Culture, emotion, and art all combined to create a special evening at one of Denver’s premier venues, complete with zesty Bloody Marys topped with whiskey-soaked cherries. The only lacking contrivance became person-of-color representation from either the musical act or the artists.

Mad Dog Blues has CDs and individual songs available for purchase on both Amazon and iTunes.

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