♫ The Delta Saints: Bones
🍺 Spirit of 66 Blonde Ale
Words & photos: Vincent Abbate
When you hit your late 50s, memories of the past lose much of their clarity. That’s true even for a lifelong journal keeper like me. The times and places, people and faces blur. And the names! Please forgive me if I’ve ever given you a “hey, how’s it going?” after you greeted me by name. I’ve always been terrible with names.
The blurriness prevents me from pinpointing my first visit to Spirit of 66 in Verviers, Belgium.
It may well have been for the Jon Amor Blues Group, an erstwhile favorite of mine that never played in Germany during their brief existence but often toured the Benelux countries. Jon’s voice was shot that evening, but the foursome was as tight and as edgy as expected.
Spirit of 66 was also the site of a nerve-racking encounter with the Mississippi Mudbloods around the same time. The band’s road manager told me beforehand that drummer Cody Dickinson didn’t like talking to journalists. Gee, thanks. However, when we sat down prior to the show, Cody wound up taking over the interview, talking lots and turning his brother Luther and bandmates Ian Siegal and Alvin Youngblood Hart into little more than spectators.
Both those occasions are roughly a decade ago, and I’ve seen plenty of shows there since.
Spirit of 66 is a staple tour stop on the European club scene. The Hall of Fame on the venue’s website includes hundreds upon hundreds of acts that have played there since the doors opened in 1995. If Spirit of 66 was nearer than 120 kilometers from my home, I’d be a poor man today. Rich in musical memories, but flat broke.
You could always get a decent glass of beer there, because, let’s face it, Belgian blondes rock. Val-Dieu, La Chouffe, Leffe, all good. But only recently did a bottle bearing the venue’s name and logo begin showing up in the fridges behind the bar. I tried it, enjoyed it, and have since made it my beverage of choice whenever I attend a show: Spirit of 66 blonde ale.
The Delta Saints is a band I’ve enjoyed over the years and seen countless times, just not at Spirit of 66, though they’ve played there as recently as 2018. They temporarily disbanded thereafter to devote themselves to family and other projects but are returning to Europe this fall – reason enough to enjoy some tracks from their killer 2015 release Bones.
I’m aiming for some kind of closure with this expanded edition of the Listening Party (more on that a bit later) which I’m calling “Bones and the Spirit of 66.”