The Milton Show at Harbor House

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On July 15, 2013, I went to Harbor House to catch The Milton Show. The Harbor House is a restaurant and bar. The restaurant is basically a seafood restaurant and I am allergic to shellfish so I seldom get anything to eat.

They feature live music almost every night. The musicians are in the front as you enter the bar which is a fifty foot long oak bar. In the front, the music is loud. This night the bartender was one of the worst bartenders in town. She is a slight woman with stringy dishwater blond hair. She is more interested in listening to gossip and spreading it to anyone who will listen than to actually serving drinks. She believes everything she hears. The owner is so cheap that the fans were not turned on until the musicians were drenched in sweat on this very hot evening.

I arrived before the music started and sat at a table with some people I knew. We waited for service and none came. We went to the bar and I got my club soda and lime after waiting for the bartender to finish her long conversation. The first set was, for the most part, Milton Hale (dms), Phillip Hale(keys), Chris Branch(sax) and Greg Cook(bass). David Green(tpt) also played during part of the first set. He is what people call a high note specialist.

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The crowd included some musicians and quite a few vocalists. Chelly K, an R&B vocalist, sang “Angel Eyes” and “Love for Sale” and really delivered. Most of the first set was instrumental only and was the kind of music I like. It is edgy straight ahead soul jazz. It was way too warm in the place and they took a break. The fans were turned on.

The crowd grew….more vocalists and musicians. In an open mic and jam environment, many musicians choose to show up about a half and hour before the jam starts. I have wondered why they don’t come early to listen (and maybe learn) from other musicians. A few of the “jam” musicians do not play well with others. At this point, I was sitting alone and was able to listen to the music.

I looked around the room before the second set and saw so many musicians and vocalists with only an hour to play and wondered how the second set would go. It started well with Audrey Northington singing “Bye, bye Blackbird”. She is really great a scat and showed us how it’s done.

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Chelly K singing with the group

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Audrey Northington singing

Next up was Sheila Hale, Phillip Hale’s wife, who sang “Wine and Roses”. Scott Reiter, on sax, joined her and I always enjoy hearing him play. At this point, Alan Denard who is a young trumpet player with a lot of talent played a solo. Also, Frank McCullers, another trumpet player added a bit.

Milton Hale, who was running the show was doing a good job and giving everyone a chance to play on at least one number. Frank McCullers thought he should be able to play on all the numbers. He was high and not playing well. Milton was alternating instrumental and vocalist numbers and doing a good job of making sure everyone got some of the music they like. Ken Ferry, another excellent trumpet player added to the mix.

Misty Love sang “Masquerade” with Jerome Clark on guitar. I hadn’t heard Jerome for recently and like the way he is playing now. At this point, Frank McCullers was hopping up on the stage to play on every number even when Milton waved him away. Frank hopped on the stage. The music stopped while Frank did his solo without anyone comping. Finally off the stage, Milton went to talk to him. Frank was running around the bar telling everyone, including other musicians how he deserved to play more than anyone. Milton followed in Frank’s wake apologizing. He wanted to speak to Frank outside. Frank aired his grievances everywhere and would not go outside to speak to Milton. Finally, after several people spoke to Frank, he was shut down.

I moved to the back of the bar. The band reformed and Angela sang a song. It was about 2:30 a.m.and I left the bar.

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