5 Places: Lady sings the blues

5 Places: Lady sings the blues
May 23, 2010
Liza Gershman

Jimi Hendrix said it. "Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel." America is an amalgamation of cultures, peoples, history and music. You don't have to travel to the South for the real deal. Dig down into the root of your American soul, and journey to these five hangouts where you can experience all manner of the blues without being down and out.

1. Boom Boom Room, San Francisco

Home to blues, boogie, soul and funk, this enigmatic lady has been singin' for decades. Lining the walls of this San Francisco institution are photos of some of the legends that have performed at the club. If only these walls could talk - the stories would blush the blue right out of your cheeks. 1601 Fillmore St., San Francisco, (415) 673-8000, www.boomboomblues.com.

2. House of Blues Sunset Strip, West Hollywood

You don't have to venture into the Mississippi Delta to find the heart and soul of the blues. This restaurant and concert hall on the infamous Sunset Strip has showcased some of the most accomplished musicians of our time. Many Sundays feature the famous Gospel Brunch with a savory buffet and sweet sounds for your ears. Creole chicken, jambalaya and grits are enough to cure the heart of any sort of trouble. 8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Call for tickets: (323) 848-5100, www.houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/sunsetstrip.

3. Walter "Brownie" McGhee House and Paramount Theatre, Oakland

Tune the iPod to your favorite rhythms (we're not talking Top 40 here), slide behind the wheel and cruise by the former home of blues legend Walter "Brownie" McGhee (who passed away in 1996). Then make your way by the still-active, legendary Paramount Theatre and let history sink in. Recognized as significant locations on the Bay Area blues scene, both sites have been declared landmarks by the city of Oakland. McGhee House: 688 43rd St., Oakland; Paramount Theatre: 2025 Broadway, Oakland. (510) 465-6400, www.paramounttheatre.com.

4. Blue Man Group, Las Vegas

And you thought you had the blues? They have the kind that never goes away. Ever. The long-running esoteric theatrical troupe of artists with electric blue skin (not really), is known for the scope of its creativity. A combination of music, theater and comedy leaves audiences wanting more. Don't worry; it's not their condition that's contagious, just their ebullience. (866) 641-7469, www.blueman.com/tickets/las_vegas.

5. Alembic Guitars, Santa Rosa

Alembic Guitars offers a hands-on experience that will ward off any case of the blues and turn you into a kid in a veritable candy store of sound. You can actually touch the guitars - who doesn't love that? They've made world-class instruments for everyone from the Grateful Dead to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Let them make a guitar for you and strum away your own cacophony of blues. 3005 Wiljan Court, Santa Rosa. (707) 523-2611, www.alembic.com.

Comments: 0