Billy Hector at the Hedger House - August 24 - 2008
After seeing Santana and Dylan I felt like I missed something, and maybe I did, but then I catch Billy Hector and I get it, and its great, and I think its not me afterall.
Billy's been playing irregularly at the Hedger House for some time now, and even though there's new owners, he seems to have came with the place, at least on some unlikely Sunday afternoons, outdoors, outback in the open barn, next to the bonfire pit.
The first couple times I caught Billy at the Hedger he played inside, where the accoustics are a little better, but in good weather the outdoor venue is just fine, even though Billy said he wasn't use to playing in the daylight, around the time he usually gets up after playing all night.
Billy's soaring guitar is backed by a power trio of drums and bass, usually a few guys who rotate shifts and fit in Billy's gigs whenever they don't have anything else to do, and this gig was special because it included Billy's old drummer Dan Hickey, along with standout bassist Winston Royce.
Billy was obviously glad to be back with Dan, who appears on some of Billy's recordings, and Winston seemed to be having a good time keeping up with them.
Kind of put off by Santana's Borgatta show earlier in the summer, expecting god inspired revelations, and after always being illuminated and being strangely disapointed in Dylan at the Electric Factory, a dose of Billy Hector is what I needed to get back into the grove.
You expect Santana and Dylan to reallly kick ass and take things to another level at the Big Time shows, and when it just doesn't happen, it's dissapointing, but Billy never dissapoints. He comes to play and put out.
With a repertoire of hundreds of classics, standards, blues, r & b and rock & roll tunes, you never know what he's going to do next, and it's always a good mixture, and doesn't get bogged down in any one style, however popular.
While the summer season is winding down, the Hedger House is just getting wound up. New owners, Neil and BJ Burns recently purchased the classic, historic roadhouse, and they're fixing up the joint. Opening up two doors from the main bar to what will be a new deck is the first thing you notice, but other things are happening behind the scenes.
If you notice, they're not only putting in a new deck, but the deck has an elevated stage that Neil promises will be utilized at least four nights a week. Niel's wife BJ, was a manager at the Atlantic City House of Blues (HOB) when they actually featured great blues artists, and she's booking the bands for the Hedger House. Maybe they can even put together a Hedger House Band?
The Hedger House is one of the oldest and most historic continously run businesses in the area. If you look at old maps of South Jersey, I mean going back to the 18th Century, you see vast areas of wilderness, and in the middle of it is the Hedger House. It must have been an early stagecoach stop, because it really has no other purpose for actually being there. Neil said that when he had a survey done and title search before buying the property, he was surprised at how far back it went.
It was also good to see some old friends who I never see anywhere else but at a Billy Hector show, where ever its at - John Cooch, his cuz Lisa and her friends, Jersey Central Iron club Prez Lutz, and music wiz Roger Beckwith, the editor of the classic RoadhouseReport.com, where you can keep up with Billy Hector and all the good bands that play live in South Jersey.
During a break I talked briefly with drummer Dan Hickey, who put on a show aside from the guitars, and he said he just got back from a tour of Europe with John Lewis Walker, an old bluesman who claims kinship with T. Bone. And Winston, the bassist, I understand, is playing in the orchestra in a Broadway play, so both of these sidemen are working hard.
At the end of his last set, someone requested "All Along the Watchtower," and having been dissapointed by Dylan, Billy, Dan and Winston got it going, and they were terriffic, and fixed my Dylan urgings.
And the Hector House, I mean the Hedger House, also featured $2 hot dogs and $3 burgers with cheese fries, and u-peel shrimp and other inexpensive muchies that will make going back there easy.
The Hedger House is back.
Billy will also be a featured attraction at this fall's Camp Jam in the Pines, Sept. 19 -20th, which I will update ASAP in a separate thread. But for the moment, it will feature, opening on Friday night, according to my man Cooch, Entrain playing Greatful Dead in reggae, as a spoof I suppose, before Billy Hector comes out and then Entrain as Entrain.
Having already boarded the train, I heard a recording of the laid back party band that hails from Martha's Vineyard and the Hamptons, and know a lot of people who grew up with Sam on trombone, whose from Linwood and went to Mainland HS, playing in the Mainland Mustang band. I was among those who lobbied to bring Entrain down from their usual haunts to play the Friday night beach concert in Somers Point, but they got caught on the Parkway and arrived real late. When they called down and said they were on the way, though waylaid, Nick Regine asked if there were any musicians in the audience. One guy had bongos in his car, another went home to get his sax, and pretty soon they had a neat jam going, and by the time Entrain got to town, they just joined the jam. Then they were asked to come back and play the Anchorage parking lot during a Bayfest, and they went pretty much under appreciated.
Also on the Camp Jam lineup are Corinne West, the Lovell Sistersw, the Ryan Montbleau Band and Ronnie Baker Brooks, the blues guitarist I seen at the Cape May jazz fest a few years back.
What a GREAT lineup!
Check it out at: www.campjam.org
And call for tix (856) 206-3787 or 206-2888
In the meantime, stay out of trouble and tune in to some good music.
That's it from the Jersey Pines,