[image-1]Word from blues series organizer Gary “Shrimp City Slim” Erwin came in that this year’s Early Bird Blues series — part of Piccolo Spoleto’s Blues/Jazz events — has been packing the crowds to capacity at the Mad River Bar and Grille (32-B N. Market St., 888-374-2656). We checked out last evening’s performance from Old Crow and barely fit into the room, which was teeming with older tourists, yuppies, crusty local blues fans, and entire family units.

Old Crow was on stage for two full sets of acoustic Delta blues, ragtime, blues-rock, and bluegrass (played on fiddle, dobro, double bass, guitar, field snare and harmonica). Guitarist/vocalist Jim Crow led the way on several numbers, swapping lines with Smoky Weiner and Hazel Ketchum. Crow sounded really cool on their rendition of Tom Waits’ syncopated tune “Jockey Full of Bourbon.”[image-2]

Ketchum switched between acoustic guitar duties and playing an antique marching snare with a pair of brushes (she’s pictured here after the show with Smoky Weiner). The crowd was into it —way more than we expected, especially for a happy hour scene in the Market. Thumbs up to Mad River for hosting these events — this might turn out to be an important venue for more blues and jazz events to come.[image-3]

There’s more to come in the Early Bird series. Aussie blues-rock guitarist Geoff Achison performs this evening and on Mon. June 2 at 4 p.m. S.C. legedn Drink Small gets down on Tues June 3 at 4 p.m. Chicago blues/rockabilly guitarist Matt Walsh and his duo perform on Thurs. June 5 at 4 p.m. Fans and novices who dig boogie, authentic country blues, indigenous roots music, and a gritty bar atmosphere should make plans to attend. Cover is $10. Music runs from 4-7 p.m.