Friday, 9 February 2018

Visit the Legendary Club Wet Note

Club Wet Note had its grand opening on Saturday, October 26th, 2002. Wetband members and fans gathered for a CD release party in celebration of the band's break into the CD market. The new club is dedicated to collecting and displaying Wetband memorabilia, and has a Wetband collection unrivalled even by the Smithsonian Institution. To celebrate their break into the CD market, the Wetband broke into song and played an impromptu live concert for their enthusiastic fans. Pandemonium broke out when they were joined on stage by drummer Bob Scorcese and guitarist Kid Cola, both of whom are legendary participants in past Blues Festivals and other recording events.

The illustrious entrance way to the famous Club Wet Note: the premier locale for Wetband begandering.

Upon crossing the threshold, the intrepid, erstwhile Wetband beganderers find themselves moving down a long foyer festooned with Wetband photographic memorabilia including many Blues Festival posters from bygone years.

Still further down the foyer, one's attention is arrested by a black framed early (perhaps earliest) sepia toned daguerreotype of the Wetband accompanied by a cortillion of courtly classical guitarists:

Beyond the foyer one is enticed and entranced by a shimmering and alluring leopardine decoupage through which one passes into the luxurious Leopardette Lounge.

One glimpse into the Leopardette Lounge and one is compelled onward to genuflect before the Leopardette Shrine, giving thanks for those who have been the Wetband's most enthusiastic supporters and backup vocalists.
And who should surprise you in the Leopardette Lounge but two of the most famous Leopardettes of all time:  Sheila and Shirley.

And as one ventures on, one can but stand in amazement before this poster reminding one that the Wetband has been playing together off and on, for better or worse, in tune and out...for twenty years.

Twenty years...and there they are, spread out before us in all their glory: the Wetband's magnificent and multifarious recordings.

And let the music begin!  A glimpse of Jethro and Woody playing at the Club Wet Note CD Release party.
Woody, Willie, Wendy (behind Willie), Jack, Kenny, Bob and Jethro at the Wetband CD Release Party.

And Willie, Kenny and Bob Scorsese crank it up at the Wetband CD Release Party.

Jethro with his biggest fan from Down Under, the vocalist Suze Melbourne who also graced the Wetband's 20th Anniversary Blues Festival.
A view of the balcony scene featuring Rockin' Meghan B. Bassman, Suze Melbourne and legendary Wetband keyboardist Paul B. Joel. 

The Shirley and Willie Story

The Shirley and Willie Story

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, Shirley drifted west with the buffalo and first crossed paths with Willie in the Rocky Mountains where she lived as a trapper and mountain woman, wild and untamed as the mountains themselves. Willie raided her trap line while she was busy buying lawn furniture for her lean-to from the Wets. But the days of fur trapping and living off the land were soon gone, like a wisp of smoke from a settler's cabin... Shirley became a trucker, driving the big rigs from coast to coast. Here we have her posing proudly with the semi she named Jennifer. As fate would have it, being short of funds on his motel tour, Willie could often be found by the roadside seeking alternate means of transportation. Shirley picked him up more than once, enough in fact for...

...a long distance romance to develop as they plied their way back and forth from coast to coast. Here they are in front of the famous Dixie Boone Motel where they plighted their troths more than once.

The Fifties found Shirley and Willie an item and much in demand for their rock and roll duets.

Today Willie and Shirley spend much of their time where it all began: on the ranch at Drumheller or horseback riding in the Rockies, but they still tour together and sing with the Wetband whenever they can. 

Gallery of the Greats

The Wetband has been fortunate to play with many great friends and musicians.
This is a tribute to them...

The Wetband WOULD be history, if it were not for the continuing support and enthusiasm of the famous Leopardettes, their background vocalists, and foreground and FOREMOST loyal fans, and here are four of the foremost:  Shirley, Isolde, Shelley and Sheila.

This very photo gallery would have been impossible without the inspired work of Wetband photographer, Shirley B. Wet who doubles as a Leopardette, known particulary for her great duets with Willie B. and her eye grabbing Leopardette wardrobe.

Drummer Neil P. Ludwig, often the beating heart of the band, and also a founding member of the legendary West Wind Trio, along with Kenny and Woody. Along with Kenny and Nadyne, Neil was a key figure in the production of the first Wetband CD. Neil worked on this project as CD & Digital Sound Engineer, as well as joining Kenny in album design and post-production. Without his expertise the project would never have gotten off the ground.

Drummer Bob Scorsese (seen here serenading Brother Ray) is the other half, with Neil P. Ludwig, of the great Wetband drumming duo. Bob is also famous for producing the first Wetband video feature. His opening sequence is still a mystery to videographers who -- flushed with embarassment -- cannot determine how he achieved his legendary whirlpool of music notes and accompanying sound effects. The soundtrack from Bob's video documentary of the Sixth Burton Webster Blues Festival was used to make the first Wetband album: The Barbarians Are Here.

Jack B. Thorogood (seen here jamming with Willie B.) has made regular guest appearances at the annual Blues Fest since 1989.

Kid Cola (seen here jamming with Woody and Jack) has electrified more than one Wetband concert. He is notorious for his defining remark during the "Shut Up! And Tune Me" Session which sent Kenny into a veritable paroxysm of lyrical and musical improvisation.

Paul B. Joel is the Wetband's premier keyboard wizard. You can see him here at work at Bluesfest 2002, looking as calm and cool as ever while conjuring up his amazing keyboard magic.

The Banana Kid is a frequent guest vocalist with the band, and is best known for her stirring renditions of Jewel and Sarah McLachan songs. She is shown here at the annual Blues Fest cozying up to Brother Ray.

Gareth Hudson and Isolde Soprano are the famed proprietors of the legendary Garsolde Rathskeller in Guelph, which played such an important part in the early careers of Kenny and Woody. Both are among the Wetband's favourite guest vocalists. Gareth has also been known to sit in on keyboards from time to time.

Gavin Garsolde, progeny of Gareth and Isolde giving Jethro a run for his money on the bass at the Blues Fest. No wonder he is sometimes referred to as Jethro Junior. Along with Banana Kid and Kid Cola he forms the first contingent of the next generation.

Doc Aaron blew in from south of the border with his twelve string guitar and blew everyone away with his ripsnorting rendition of "Cocaine" at Blues Fest 98, which became a highlight track on the Wetband's first Blues Fest CD.

Ian Twelvestrings played his big, bodacious twelve-string and sang at some of the early Blues Fests before embarking on his round the continent tour.

Tammy Wynwette, pictured here with Wendy, was a special guest vocalist at the 1996 Blues Fest and sang some great duets with her pa, our own redoubtable Willie B. Wet.

When not in the woods with Woody, Shelley B. Wet is the premier host of Wetband Blues Festivals. She is also a vocalist with the Leopardettes and is known for her soulful duets with Woody as well as her great all around enthusiasm and support. She is shown here singing with the Banana Kid and Brother Ray.

It is hard to find a place to start in describing Sheila B. Wet's contributions to the Wetband and the Bluesfests. She designed and made the original Leopardette leopardskin pillbox hats. She takes many of the great Wetband photographs. She works as Sound Engineer on many Bluesfests as well as other Wetband projects. She is a vocalist with the Leopardettes and is well known for her duets with Kenny B. She has hosted many of the Wetband recording sessions... 

Cat Adelle has graced many a Bluesfest with her soaring soprano voice.  Seen here singing backup vocals to Woody on keyboard.

Suze Melbourne, famous Down Under Girl was a special guest star at the gala 20th Bluesfest.

Steve Page Jr has guest starred at many a Bluesfest either on thunderous twelve string or searing electric guitar.

Early Days Photo Gallery

These photos date back to the primordial days 
before the Wetband was formed...

Woody gets his start playing in local basements. Here we have at least blonde and beautiful Pam paying attention. What more would one need? Kenny took this picture and notes that Woody's presence may be merely fortuitous, as his attention and attentions were elsewhere and where else? 

Jethro and his main squeeze Wendy in their ultra-retro hippydom days. 

Woody during his former respectable days as a pianist accompanying Jethro and Wendy's progeny, Meghan on the recorder, while Woody Sr looks on. 

Woody playing his Yamaha in a cabin in the wilds of northern Ontario, near Mooseneck. He appears to have considerably more fingers than today.

Woody during his much maligned guitar-playing gigolo phase.
A rare shot of Kenny in rare form during one of his first Toronto gigs at the Underhill Inn and Tavern in Don Mills. 
This is a rare shot of the infamous Room #48, 3rd floor, King Edward Hotel (late, great) in Guelph, where Kenny B holed up for a number of years...the shot hints at the depravity and poverty of Kenny's topsy-turvey existence at the time, influenced by some very bad sorts of company. In the picture can clearly be seen perhaps the ONLY remaining picture of Kenny's very first guitar (brand name forgotten), which was stolen a few years later.

John G. and Jethro Bassman at a backwoods cabin around the time of the first Blues Festival. John G. was a guest vocalist at the first Blues Fest and is remembered for singing a long talking blues song that started in maritime Canada and ended somewhere in the backwoods of Alabama. John G. was an enthusiastic participant at many later Blues Fests. 

By this time Kenny has clearly settled into Toronto life, sampling the local beverages and even joining the local hockey team. 

Here's an early shot of Willie grooving with two of his biggest fans: Gary, the manager of Guelph's famous Marilyn Motel, and his daughter Debbie. In the background we get a very early glimpse of keyboard wizard Paul B. Joel.

Jethro's early struggles to break into the entertainment business were no joke, but then again here's a rare shot of Jethro in his stint as a stand-up comedian.

The long years of motel touring took their toll on Willie. In this shot he has lost his shirt and joined up with Blind Whitey to start a group called Corners, Tangents and Turns.