Layce Baker and the black Diamond band
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Layce Baker and the black Diamond band


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"Summer concert series"

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Layce Baker and the Black Diamond BandBio
Layce Baker Guitar and vocals

Pittsburg blues guitar legend Layce Baker Jr. has been playing the blues
for nearly 40 years since forming his first band at age 12 and later
performing in nightclubs with another Pittsburg legend Rosie Gaines from age 14. His
teachers at Pittsburg's Central Jr. High School and later at Pittsburg High
School helped him perform during the lunch hour at both schools.
Baker, known in blues circle as the "Iceman," learned guitar watching his
father perform.
With his Black Diamond Band, Baker was voted the Bay Area Blues Society
Blues Band of the Year in 2004. He was voted the Central Valley Blues Musician
of the Year for 2005, and has been a feature performer for the Sacramento Blue
Society, including its 25th Anniversary celebration with an unforgettable
performance that stole the show that night.
Baker has performed with legends such as Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Little
Johnny Taylor, Lowell Fulsom, the Whispers and California Malibus. Jimmy McCracklin at Lucern Blues Festival in Switzerland ,Le Merridean ,Paris France,and the 2006 Legendary Blues Cruise.
He performed with the Caravan All-Stars, Elvin Bishop, Santana and Huey Lewis
and the News at the 2000 Bay Area Music awards.
He has headlined at the House of Blues at DisneyWorld, Terra Blues in New
York, Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco, Warm Daddy's in Philadelphia and Ziggy's
in Denver as well as the Monterey Blues Festival, Portland River Festival.
Check his website at
- Ledger interview

"Long night out"

Layce Baker/The Calistoga Crawl---7/2/05
I wasn't gonna go out at all lastnight but then I noticed that that band I caught at Sonny's jam awhile back called Blind Curve, was gonna be at The Russian River brewery in Santa Rosa!
I was excited about this because the songs they did then were killer!
This band is led by local guitar great Jake Richmond.
I went and after about two songs I was in thinking mode of what else was going on in the area.
Too much Rock and I wasn't in the mood. They were good but it wasn't clicking for me on this night.
I was in the mood for something to reach in and steal my soul on this night!
But of course, anything would have a hard time living up to the previous night.

I couldn't recall much that was going on in the area but I did recall that Layce Baker and his Black Diamond Blues Band were gonna be at the Calistoga Inn on the other side of the mountain.

I asked Anne if she was game since she was also there at the brewery but she declined after the big day. She did give me some awesome directions.
I had never been that route, "The Grueling" route she called it.
Shoot, I was ready to take the long way, the only way that I knew of. Thanks for the directions Anne. That route shaved much valuable bluesin' time off the road and it was indeed fast.
It was grueling alright but it's pretty much like my commute every morning just a different mountain and a bit shorter.

I had never been to Calistoga so this was a first. I have been wanting to check it out.
Got there in a flash and this little tourist town was hoppin'!
Lots and lots of kids walking up and down the street.

Walked in the place and it pretty much was packed. Bottle-necked along the bar, kinda like the saloon, I squeezed my way thru heading toward the sound of the band.
Whew! I made it to the little area they placed the band and the dance floor.
It was sounding good already and I hadn't even settled in yet!

There he was- the guy I had traveled over that mountain for. The guy who won me over at the Black Diamond Blues fest- LAYCE BAKER!
That guitar playing of his is so awesome it would prove to be well worth that "grueling" ride.
Not only that, the whole band is great!
He also had a female singer who was good, even thru the crappy PA, but her moment would be a song that brought tears to my eyes, she was just wonderful!
I wish I remembered the name of it but I never heard it before lastnight.
Something about, "They call me Sunshine but that ain't my real name" and she sang it with such conviction that all I could do was stand and watch her, in awe.

Layce would give me my money's worth several times thru-out the night on that guitar.
Why I haven't been out to hear him more is beyond me. Definitely an under-rated guitar player. It won't happen again.

Yeah, I know, he'll be a the Russell City Blues Fest this next weekend but I just had to crawl over that mountain to him to scope out a new venue. New to me anyway.

The place was hoppin' and man do they love to dance!!
The little floor packed all night I was knocked around quite a bit. I was surrounded by tall, white, well-dressed, drunk, yuppie kids and they are the rudest!!
Not hardly an applause after the songs partly because everyone had a drink in their hands but mostly because they were rude.

Not an appreciative crowd and I was feeling out of place applauding, cheering and stuff because I would be the only one doing it for the most part. This band deserved MUCH better than the rudeness of these people but hell, they were dancing and they paid to get in. I just hate seeing bands treated like that.
The band was on the floor with the dancers and they had no regard for the lady singing and constantly knocked the mic around. Yuppie white kids are so rude. At least when their drunk ;-)

Not my kind of place to go and feel comfy while listening to the blues but I'm glad I finally found out.

During break, I sat in the van, smoking, listening to T-Bone, and in between songs I heard a faint sound of "live" drums in the distance. I walked down the road and it became louder.
I passed Suzy's Bar and it was the sound of DJ music. I thought to myself, "That wasn't the sound I heard" and I continued on. Down a little further was another place I had seen listed but never been to, "The Hydro bar & Grill".
THIS is where the "live" music was coming from. I was wondering how I deciphered this out of all the sounds off the street.
I looked in and the band was playing and people were dancing. The song was "Brick House" and the guy singing it was LARRY JONES!
He would be the only one I recognized.
He was playing guitar although most times I've seen him, he's doing bass duties.
I didn't go in. I had only one set left of Layce and I didn't wanna miss anymore than I already had. At least now I know where these two clubs are. I have seen them listed and know that many blues bands play there. I have a feeling that a band must cater to this particular crowd with all those songs we hate to hear such as Mustang Sally, Brick House, I Feel Good, and all those other worn out, over requested, over played songs.
But hell, it's a paycheck, right?

I headed back and endured more of the rudeness but managed to escape into my blues realm every once in awhile.

This area is much like St Helena's 1351 Club. Tourist area at day and young yuppie hang out at night.
Don't get me wrong...I have nothing against yuppies. I just think they need to be knocked down and put back into place every once in awhile. Their manners are appalling. Kind of reminds me of the way I've seen High School kids act in their own High School. Very disrespectful to their peers, teachers, and property.
I know one thing...if our kids ever acted like what I witnessed lastnite, even if I only heard about it, I'd beat their asses!
I don't care if they're 21, there asses would be mine.

So there it is...One awesome band, with one awesome guitarist, and one awesome band, playing in a venue that doesn't know an awesome thing when they hear it.
But's a paycheck, right?

I noticed Layce had CDs but I just couldn't do it. This month is so tight with the Daughter's birthday, blues fest, car repairs, I have to really watch it. Next time and there will be a next time just probably not there.

Posted by Mo at July 3, 2005 10:07 AM

Hi Mo,
Thanks for the report, articulate and image-laden as ever. I know the street and the season, and I can just picture the scene you painted.
Glad the directions were accurate. Hope the downhill ride was OK.
As to rude yupppie kids I completely agree. Why don't their parents teach them any respect?
I love T-Bone. He's seen me through some good times and some dark hours.
See you soon,

Posted by: anne exton at July 4, 2005 03:10 PM

Name of the lady singer @ calistoga was Jasper she's my girl.

Posted by: carolyn at August 23, 2005 09:23 AM

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"Mud and Mustard Festival"

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Mustard, Mud and Blues in the Napa Valley

Posted by: sfphotoguy // 4 months ago // viewed 115 times
Calistoga, California // embed media

Layce Baker and the Black Diamond Blues Band play the Mustard, Mud and Blues Festival in Calistoga, Napa Valley, CA. Photo shot at the Calistoga Inn, March 9 , 2008.
Before the cabernet vines bud in the Napa valley, mustard blossoms take front stage as Spring icomes to the Napa Valley.

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"Black Diamond blues festival 2005"

Black Diamond Blues Festival, 5/29/05
Black Diamond Blues Festival Sunday 5/29/05

Full Road Trip! We’d been discussing this for a bout two weeks among the roadtrip gang; we’d had a good time at the old Black Diamond Festival held in the summer, before the City of Pittsburg (CA) killed it for some reason. Now it was back, scheduled on Memorial Weekend. Mo sent out the email almost a week in advance. As is the usual case, the men mostly couldn’t get it together and the women could. The blues van headed down Hwy 101 and the Lakeville cutoff with Terri, Ann, Chris, Lis, Dee, Mo, -and little old me surrounded by pretty women.

Arriving early just as the ticket booths were getting together, we set up right in the road about 25 feet out from the stage. There weren’t many people there on a breezy fresh day sharp with sunlight. Behind us people came in including other Bay Area blues friends. Having time we went in search of coffee in the surrounding historical downtown of Pittsburg (Thank goodness they saved it from redevelopment) and found a great old time Mexican Restaurant with a tin ceiling that had good coffee.

We returned to the sound of guitar tuning and balancing. Avotcja, blues and jazz DJ on KPFA and KPOO (Avotcja is very dear to me, as I used to listen to her program while doing the endless reading and writing of Law School) was the Master of Ceremonies. This turned out to be a double blessing as the hyper little dude in the flash suit who used to drive everybody crazy was back, and as usual getting every name and fact wrong as he nattered away.

First up was Guitar Mac as a solo doing slide guitar. Mac wasn’t on the program and they started him at 11:30. Mac played slide guitar on several well-known tunes and it became clear he’s a standard tuning guitarist who’s not really comfortable on slide. He mostly strummed and when he wanted single note leads he’d fret them with his fingers instead of the slide.

Slide guitar playing has a different technique than standard tuning playing. Guitar Mac has learned a few licks but it was evident he hadn’t learned the heavy bass technique or melodic playing of Charley Patton, Willie Brown, or Son House. Since his guitar was turned up loud and the early sound mix was harsh, the guitar drowned out Mac’s excellent tenor-baritone voice. Hearing his CD done with a band is a whole lot more satisfying. The early sound mix worked against him.

The Sound check followed Guitar Mac and they began to get some mids and bass into the mix. We would shortly find the sound crew had gotten so much bass into the mix that it was almost painful to be in the direct path of the bass speakers.

The true opening act was Ron Joseph and the Steppin’ Stones, featuring Dwayne Thompson on vocals. Dwayne Thompson is a powerful tenor vocalist who can do blues, soul, and obviously has big gospel roots. What a fantastic singer! He can do romantic love ballads and raunchy blues with equal ease. Being from Sonoma County I hadn’t heard him before and I’ll be watching for his name and huge voice again. The Stepping Stones Band also has a fine guitarist with a waspish sound and nice licks. The whole band has some fine funk rhythm to it.

Next up was the Caravan of Allstars in one of their backing incarnations, this time behind Pork Pie Phillips. They began to warm up the still arriving crowd and had fun with Carl’s songs.

Then the Allstars backed up Teddy "Bluesmaster" Watson who was one of the hits of the show. After delivering a song on stage as the foxy grandpa with a cane, he went down the stairs with a cordless mic and threw the cane away and proceeded to sing songs up close to the ladies and wowing the crowd while doing the bump and grind. Bi-ig showmanship. His tune coming to an end he bowed for the applause—and then whipped around and shouted to the band on stage, "B flat—from the five!" and gave us a whole lot more. The band on stage were knocked out and laughing as a wily old veteran stole the show.

Layce Baker and the original Black Diamond Band started quietly and showed deep blues feel and power. Both Layce and second guitarist Louis Jones showed they could really play the blues. Searing licks were the power of this band and I want to see them in a much longer show. Expression was their powerful game on this too-short set. They have a whole lot of guitar with feeling. This the original band that Layce started with, not the one he regularly appears with in bar gigs.

- musing and ramblings


Late Night Love
Blues Simplicity
Layce the Iceman Baker




Pittsburg, California blues guitar legend, Layce Baker Jr was born on .June 19, 1955 on the Choctaw Nation Reservation in Haskell County, Oklahoma. Layce has been playing the blues for nearly 40 years. Baker, aka "Iceman" learned to play the guitar by watching his father perform. He formed his first band at the age of 12 and at 14, performed at both Pittsburg Central Junior High and Pittsburg High School. Layce went on to perform in nightclubs with another Pittsburg legend, Rosie Gaines. Gaines later join Prince and the New Power Generation.

Layce Baker and the Black Diamond Blues Band was awarded the Bay Area Blues Society West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, Blues Band of the Year 2004 and the Central Valley Blues Musician of the Year 2005.

Layce has been a featured performer at Sacramento Blues Society events including its 25th Anniversary celebration with an unforgettable show stealing performance. Baker has performed with legends such as Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Cleveland Jones and the Temptations Revue, Little David Thompson, KoKo Taylor, Archie Bell and the Drells, Johnny Taylor, Lowell Fulsom, The Whispers and The California Malibus. Other notable performances include the 2000 Bay Area Music Awards with the Caravan All-Stars, Elvin Bishop, Santana and Huey Lewis and the News. Layce was the headliner at the House of Blues DisneyWorld, Terra Blues in New York, Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco, Warm Daddy's in Philadelphia, PA; and Ziggy's in Denver, Co.

Layce has toured with Jimmy McCracklin performing at the Lucern Blues Festival in Switzerland; The,Le Merridean in Paris France and the Legendary Blues Cruise in 2006. While touring with the legendary Sonny Rhodes, Layce performed at the Monterey Blues Festival and the Portland River Festival.

When not on tour, Layce and the Black Diamond Band can be found Friday evenings and throughout Bay Area clubs on Saturday nights. Ongoing gigs include The Calistoga Inn in Calistoga, Ca; Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco, Ca; JJ's Blues in Santa Jose, Ca and the Northern California Blues Festival scene.

Baker’s early influences came from this father who loved listening to great blues legends such as Lightin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker and any other blues legends that an Oklahoma Bluesman and Bootlegger could get access to without a television. During Layce’s teen years in Oklahoma, his fathers acquaintance with Bo Diddley and T-Bone Walker influenced his guitar playing and led to the organization of a band which included T-Bone Walkers sons. In his early adult years, Layce has become a major bluesman in the Northern California and bay area music scene. His influences include Albert King, Albert Collins, and Jimi Hendrix, You will hear some of these influences as he plays on his latest CD’s, Blues Simplicity or The Iceman. You can hear Delta, Texas, and Chicago style blues in the Black Diamond Band. Layce is an entertaining showman who mixes his blues with a little R&B.

Youtube:search Layceb / /
Phone contact Layce 925-752-0026.