Harvey Mandel brings Windy City blues to the River Theater
Detroit-born guitarist Harvey Mandel, aka “The Snake”, often underrated and overlooked by the Spotlight, will be performing at Jerry Knight’s Russian River Theater on Saturday night, April 28.
Spending his formative years in Morton Grove, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, Mandel immersed himself in the distinctive sounds created by Chicago blues proponents such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and Willie Dixon, whose unique stylings involved taking acoustic guitar and harmonica-based Delta blues, and adding amplified electric guitar, bass, drums and piano, and pumping up the harmonica’s resonant power with a mic.
Mandel’s credentials are extensive, and to true fans of blues and rock ‘n roll, very impressive. He has performed with Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Albert King and Buddy Guy, and was the original guitarist on Charlie Musselwhite’s debut album Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band in 1966. That “legendary” album was influential in bridging the gap between blues and rock and roll and with Mandel’s “relentless fuzztone, feedback-edged solos, and unusual syncopated phrasing”, helped create a hybrid sound that heavily influenced the World’s view of “American Music.”
Following the 60’s migration to San Francisco, Mandel often performed at The Matrix, jamming with Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop and Steve Miller. Sitting in one night at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium with Canned Heat (whose guitarist had quit the group that same day), Mandel was invited to join the band, and found himself two days later, front and center, on the stage at the Woodstock Festival.
San Francisco DJ Abe Kesh signed Mandel to Phillips Records where Mandel recorded his first solo album, Cristo Redentor, which featured a tune of the same name, and became Mandel’s most visible hit. He was later drafted by an impressed John Mayall and recorded two albums with Mayall’s (Eric Clapton was an original member) legendary Bluesbreakers.
Mandel also collaborated with other musicians, and formed a band called Pure Food and Drug Act which released one album (Choice Cuts),
When Rolling Stone’s guitarist Mick Taylor quit the Stones, Mandel auditioned as his replacement, recording in Rotterdam and Germany on a 1976 Rolling Stones studio album, their 13th, called Black and Blue.
He has also released an instructional video titled Harvey Mandel: Blues Guitar & Beyond.
Mandel’s nickname, “The Snake,” was given to him by keyboardist Barry Goldberg, because Mandel often wore a cracked leather jacket. He also acted in a film called “Chalk” and has two daughters, Camille and Lola who currently live in France.
Mandel will be accompanied at the River Theater by Pete Sears.
A bassist and keyboardist, the English-born Sears has cruised through four decades touching many genres, playing with Rod Stewart and Jefferson Starship, and John Lee Hooker, as well as Quicksilver’s John Cipollina, Jerry Garcia and Los Lobos. Sears has also written and recorded the original score for many documentary films, including the award winning “The Fight in the Fields” which highlighted Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Struggle.
Where: Jerry Knight’s River Theater, 16135 Main St., Guerneville, 869-8022 Admission:$20.
When: Saturday, April 28