Road Stories - Mark Sallings Heats Up Warm Daddy's

The Unknowns Heat Up Warm Daddy's With Delta Blues!

Whether Philadelphia knows its blues is a matter of debate. Too often the city's music venues fold blues into jazz, or the city's few blues venues go astray (Abilene on South Street, originally a blues venue is booking ska bands--good ska bands, but not at all blues as the folks in the Delta or in Chicago know it.)

Now Warmdaddy's on Front Street in Philadelphia knows its blues, and after a regional taste test, I can attest that they also do a good job with ribs, possibly the best job in the city. When Mark Sallings and the Famous Unknowns played Warmdaddy's this fall, the ribs were tasty and the blues clean, driving, and at times unpredictable--the guitarist launching into an excellent, passionate Jimi Hendrix number while Sallings went outside to make sure the band's van hadn't been stolen, always a Philly possibility.

But the gig was not quite foot-stomping, dancing-in-the-dust, over-the-top. (A drunken frat boy/girl couple did attempt to create their own moment, moving tables so they could dance, only to have the Warmdaddy's staff move the tables back into place as soon as they returned to their beers at the bar. The need for such orderliness was totally lost on me, as no one was really looking to use those tables that night. Fortunately, that didn't stop the frat couple, they just stumbled back in front of the band, pushed the tables out of their way again and drunkenly resumed dancing.)

Now I saw Sallings and company in the stompin,' hollerin' mode, last spring in Tennessee, and it's a glorious thing. That's what I was looking for that night at Warmdaddy's in Philadelphia. I wanted Sallings and the Famous Unknowns to deliver me from the banks of the Delaware River and musically plunk me down into a crowd dancing in the dark shadow of a Mississippi levy, where babies play in the dust with empty Pabst cans while their parents boogie.

Didn't quite happen that way. But that's OK. What did happen was some good rockin blues. Couples at the bar--me and mine included--snuggled a little closer, picking up all the sexy suggestions flying by in the lyrics and in the beat. Those seated at the tables, eating dinner, were chewing and nodding their head in funky time--a strange phenomenon, but somehow graceful. The band, professionals all, dug in, but didn't quite cut loose. Maybe Philadelphia wasn't ready for that. A fine night with fine music, but just a little too clean--like Warmdaddy's, perhaps. We left Warmdaddy's happy, but not yet **delivered,** if you know what I mean. So come back to Philadelphia, Sallings, with your Famous Unknowns, and this time go over the top. I want to dance in the dust.

written by: Janet Pinkerton

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