Well of course you don't miss a chance like that!
I had the privilege to See Little Charlie Baty, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones with Tom Ferraro all together out at the Baha Brothers Sandbar and Grill in Taunton MA last week, and little did I know that Duke Robillard was lurking out in the audience too! Nor was I expecting to get to see these two men play together!
The Blues truly encompasses a wide array of styles, but there are some that truly hold close to the old school electric Blues. And these guys have nailed it square on the head. They blend Jump, Jazz, Swing, Electric, and Rock Blues in a way that it all becomes truly honest and intensely pure to the core of the community.
Two nights later, I had the honor and privilege to see these guys again at 9 Wallis in Beverly MA.
Sugar Ray and The Bluetones are a legendary band all on their own with 13+ awards and nominations, including 3 Grammy Nominations for himself solo... The legends are true!
With a career spanning more than 40 years (Since the 70's), he has truly honed that voice and mastered the harp in a way that bring admiration not just from the fans but his fellow musicians and peers alike. He truly has the "voice" for the Blues with just enough smooth and just enough gravel to swing you back and forth across the emotional spectrum of a Blues Band that, in my opinion, is right up there with Muddy Waters.
Seeing Tom and Charlie, with their matching gold tops, slide through the music like skilled surgeons making their instruments sing on their own and in chorus with the rest of the band all at the same time..that was something special!
Tom who is every inch the Bluesman and talented musician across the local New England Blues community, is such that it still surprises me when I sometimes come across someone who hasn't heard of this talented gentleman. His regular Wednesday shows at The Pub on Park in Cranston RI are a great chance to see a great Blues band deftly move through what I call the Mellow Blues (with just the right mix of rocking Blues). I recommend checking out the Vintage Rhythm and Blues Ensemble. But more on them in another review.
Little Charlie Baty has been described as Blues Royalty, a title well earned! Starting in 1976 when he and Rick Estrin formed Little Charlie and The Nightcats, the spark of things to come sprang into life.
And after seeing this creative giant perform live, it's clear the spark has gone nuclear on the scale of Alpha Centauri. No fewer than 13 albums with Alligator Records is testament to his consistent and continued talent.
There is a drive and energy that comes from the mans soul and it's put on full display in front of an audience. Watching him seamlessly move between soulful soft yet deceptively complicated chords and then soaring into pure unadulterated Rock Blues without missing a beat, it quite simply left me smiling like a kid in a candy store without supervision and in possession of a credit card.
With his most recent album, Skronky Tonk, he makes the lines between jazz and blues evaporate into a fine blend. Well worth the listen!
When I had the chance to catch up with Charlie after the show and I asked him why does he play the blues, his reply was that he doesn't see himself as a blues musician, but as a musician. Which is quite true, and fully evident when you watch and hear the man play!
But make no mistake, he IS a Bluesman in the best possible of ways.
When You're Smiling, Pennies From Heaven, Two Hundred Dollars Too Long, Mean Old World.
Those are just a very SMALL number of the songs put on full and glorious display throughout the concert. Each one masterfully performed and organically improvised in a way that shows nothing but polish and style.
The pairing of Little Charlie Baty with Sugar Ray and the Bluetones is something special to say the least. It also explains why the two have collaborated and toured together in the past. Mix in some Tom Ferraro and let simmer till boiling hot, then when seen live, it's special on steroids.
The phrase "pure blues" is what I heard from more than a few people at this show, and it put into two words exactly the right phrasing. Classic and new, across different genre's but still uniquely Blues... It was exactly that. Pure Blues. And it left me excited and happy in a way that only good music and great talent does. I walked away with my worldly cares out of mind and safely back in their boxes so that I could see the joy in the world around me once again.
Together or apart, you simply cannot go wrong with this talented group of musicians there to pull you out of your life and put you safely into the music.
Some reviews are harder than others for me to put together, because there is just so much good that one doesn't want to leave anything out, but if I hit that mark... well... I might give War and Peace a run for it's money.
Please do yourself the favor of seeing any one of these artists whenever you can, and if you can catch them all together then you MUST GO!
*This review was not solicited by the musicians or venue.