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Pat Hall Memorial Concert
Red Line Tap
February 14, 2010
by Dawn O’Keefe Williams
When a fellow musician and his family are down and need help, you can count on Chicagoland’s blues musicians and industry folks to step up to the cause . This was the case as we lost Pat Hall, 58, a talented Chicago keyboardist and entertainer, who passed away 1/24/2010 due to complications from liver and colon cancer. Valentine’s Day was more than a romantic holiday as friends, family and fellow musicians gathered to pay tribute and raise funds to help with the late musician’s medical bills and funeral expenses.
Pat's memorial was like a who's who in the Chicago music industry. The guests spanned many genres but most prominent were the blues men and women such as Delmark recording artist Dave Specter, saxophonist Rodney Brown, guitarist Don Pasquelini (who played in the band Dog Lips with Pat Hall), bassist Greg McDaniels, T.S. Henry (saxophonist from The Flock), as well as Yours Truly were among the many people who came to pay their respects and celebrate Pat Hall and his contributions to Chicago music.
Standing room only, there were people from all walks of life -- from 20 somethings to 70 somethings, from suits and tea-length dresses to hippies, musicians, friends, family and fans. They all came to the memorial at The Redline Tap, 7006 Glenwood, Chicago, which kicked off with hosts Dave Grier, a bassist who worked with Pat in the Coupla Fat Guys Band, and comedian Jim Wiggins, who gave a wonderful eulogy spoken in a lively, rough Pat Hall-styled tradition that recalled Pat's life and music. You can read Jim's remembrances on Pat's website www.pathallmusic.com which gives a detailed account of how they met and about their lives together as entertainers and friends.
Pat and partner Dave Grier hailed from Sullivan High School in Rogers Park which seemed to be a Mecca for churning out great musicians such as T.S. Henry from the Flock and songwriter Dick Marx, the father of recording artist Richard Marx. Motown, R&B, and the blues were staples there on the far North Side. Pat's music was blues-based with a crossover blend that included rock and pop, but he was also known for his entertaining style which included audience participation that was comedic, irreverent and (to some) insulting, but people would come back for more. His rich history in music entwined with the Chicago blues having worked for Son Seals and Koko Taylor. The keyboardist appeared on the CD, South Side Chicago Blues, a Delmark 50th Anniversary collection and he had performed with many of Chicago's blues musicians over the years. Pat also recorded several of his own CDs available at www.pathallmusic.com . While you're there check out the YouTubes of his Coupla Fat Guys amateur cooking show. Hilarious!
David Grier made most of the arrangements for the memorial with help from Jim Wiggins and Marcus David. The latter was the drummer for Pat Hall in the Coupla Fat Guys band, and Marcus arranged the lineup of music for the memorial, which featured musicians who played with Pat in a tribute to three eras of his music.
The first band representing Coupla Fat Guys brought up notable blues drummer Tino Cortes, Gordon Patriarca on bass as well as Pat's nephew Ken Loredo on keyboards, who not only looked and sang like Pat, but played like him as well, as he performed Pat's originals and blues covers. The Coupla Fat Guys band were famous for playing in the studio for Buzz Kilman, Mancow Muller and Steve Cochran's radio shows.
The next tribute featured harmonica player Buzz Krantz, a.k.a. the Santa Claus of Blues, with drummer Mike Linn on vocals, Chris Winters on guitar and Marcus' solid drumming pulling it all together. When Marcus left the stage, Mike Linn laid down some great rhythms on the drums as well.
There was an acoustic trio that included a violinist who did a version of "Who Do You Love" that captured the audience’s attention and quieted down the chatter for that song.
Members of the Fabulous Fish Heads performed featuring Harlan Terson on bass, Dave Specter on guitar and Marty Binder on drums. Chicago DJ Buzz Kilman played his blues harp with Steve Doyle on guitar, Ken Loredo on keys and Marcus David on drums.
All during the performances at the Redline, sister club the Heartland Café, 7000 N. Glenwood, showed videos of Pat's entertaining YouTube cooking shows and they had a guest book for everyone to sign.
Pat Hall would have been proud. His friends made sure that the memorial was rowdy, rollicking, boogying and heartfelt along with Pat’s great music played in his style. I personally found Pat’s piano playing impressive. He just had a feel that was uncanny. He knew exactly what to play and what kind of feeling to put to it even if he never heard it before. We will truly miss the presence of this great keyboard player and his music. And who will insult us now when we enter a club?
Blues woman Dawn O'Keefe Williams is a singer/songwriter and bandleader from the Chicago area. She is best known for her song “Stone Cold Fool” which won a Billboard award.