A Blinn Family Reunion: The Handsome Machine and Black Leather Touch Play @ Art For Your Ears, Delaware, This Saturday - by Ricki C.

Rock & roll has attained an age in which I am now watching the CHILDREN of rockers I grew up with taking the stage.

I guess it started in the 1990’s when Jeff Buckley came on the scene, and I had to pay attention, having really liked his father Tim’s folk-rock balladeer act when I was a teenager in the 1960’s.  Teddy Thompson – son of Richard & Linda Thompson, an act I WORSHIPPED in the 1970’s – followed in the 2000’s, and now here we are in the second decade of the 21st century with homegrown Columbus father/daughter team, the Blinn’s.

Erica Blinn leads The Handsome Machine, probably my favorite rock & roll act in Columbus, Ohio, that doesn’t pay me to say that (as opposed to my employers, Watershed and Colin Gawel & the Lonely Bones).   Erica and the guys stomp, shout & work it all out on a set of originals that is the equal of virtually any band I’ve witnessed in Columbus, and could hold their own nationwide, for that matter.

I’d watch a hundred nights of this band: I’d watch Erica belt out her incredibly well-written tunes like the bastard girl-child of Rod Stewart & Chrissie Hynde;  I’d watch her peel out her rhythm guitar parts from a low-slung Fender Tele like a Harley winding out on a Midwest dirt-track;  I’d watch her wail harmonica solos like she was born on the South Side of Chicago rather than the West Side of Columbus, Ohio;  I’d watch PJ Schreiner bash out drum-pounding fever/beats behind her while simultaneously pitching in note-perfect harmonies along with bass player Mark Nye;  I’d watch guitarist Greg Wise melting faces in the front row with incendiary riffs straight outta the Keith Richards/Fred “Sonic” Smith school of lead guitar, yet ultimately fresh, new, up-to-date and ROCKIN’.  And I’d watch Will Newsome over there stage-right, unassumedly knocking out riffs and solos like the second coming of Mick Taylor from 1972.

And Erica’s just the KID half of the equation.

Her father Jerry Blinn was one-quarter of Black Leather Touch, my second favorite late-1970’s Columbus rock & roll act.  (Hey, c’mon, Willie Phoenix was leading Romantic Noise at the height of his powers at that time; they HAD to be my favorite.)  Black Leather Touch played a no-nonsense brew of originals and kick-ass covers that took in the best of 70’s hard-rock: from The Rolling Stones to Ted Nugent to their big-brother band The Godz, plus a slew of Chuck Berry & Jerry Lee Lewis, just to illustrate they knew their roots.  To a song, Black Leather Touch did ‘em all justice.  And their cover of Garland Jeffrey’s Stones-esque “Wild In The Streets” was truly a thing of rock & roll beauty.  (For a contemporaneous review I did of a Black Leather Touch show in 1978 – when they opened for Steppenwolf, of all people, 10 years past that band’s “Born To Be Wild” prime – check out Three Easy Pieces in my earlier blog, Growing Old With Rock & Roll.)

I saw the reunified/reconstituted Black Leather Touch last summer at some Delaware bash and singer/guitarist Tom Cash, bassist Jerry Blinn, his twin brother & lead guitarist Garry Blinn and drummer Greg Hall were just as solid as they were in their long-ago, halcyon late-70’s heyday.  I couldn’t stop smilin’.  I couldn’t help rockin’.     

This Saturday evening – May 16th, 2015 – The Handsome Machine and Black Leather Touch will appear at Art For Your Ears, an adjunct of the Delaware Arts Festival in historic downtown Delaware, Ohio, home of Ohio Wesleyan University.  Music kicks off at 6 pm with Delyn Christian, followed by Hootie McBoob, followed by the daughter/father rockin’ of the Blinn family.  (Full disclosure: I’m stage-managing this show in my capacity as roadie-for-hire around town.  In no way, shape or form does that have any influence on one word I’ve written here.  I consider it a gloriously happy accident that I’m getting paid to work a show I’d do for free, or, furthermore, would PAY to see.)   

It’s gonna be Saturday night rock & roll on a gorgeous Midwest evening.  You could do worse with your Saturday night.  Take the road trip to Delaware. - Ricki C. / May 12th, 2015.

Art For Your Ears takes place Saturday, May 16th, 2015, adjacent to the Delaware Arts Festival.
Music kicks off at 6 pm, goes to about 11 pm.  Admission is free, whattya got to lose?