Sunday, July 27, 2008

WB Blues Review: Wrightin' a serious wrong.

Ain't gonna stop until the twenty-fifth hour
'Cause now I'm livin' on blues power
........ - L. Russell & E. Clapton, "Blues Power"

The Rusty Wright Band, Chelsea, MI, July 26

WB had the great fortune this weekend to see and hear one of the premier bands on the contemporary music scene, led by a man with fingers of fire and rocking the most impressive ponytail in all of music history. The Rusty Wright Band, like the Rolling Stones, defines the word "tight" as Rusty's scorching lead and slide work, accompanied by soaring B3 organ riffs, weaves through Laurie LaCross-Wright's rock-solid rhythm guitar, all with a bass-and-drum engine chugging along as reliably as the Charlie Watts/Bill Wyman machine in its heyday.

The 90-minute set brought an awed crowd to its feet after the last two songs, which were thumping tributes to Robin Trower and Stevie Ray Vaughan. (Admit it: any band willing to wear Robin Trower roots on its sleeve is truly special.) And did we mention the jaw-dropping rendition of a George Gershwin tune, "Summertime," from the 1935 American opera, Porgy and Bess? Laurie wraps magnificent vocals around the song here:

As an added bonus, Rusty Wright, a physically imposing mountain of a guitar god on stage, is an extraordinarily nice and completely unassuming man in person who, as Laurie did too, was more than happy to chat with WB staff after the show.

And afterwards, we reflected back on a show by another band — one that will remain nameless here — that we'd caught in Chicago earlier in the month, when we were completely underwhelmed by muted and lifeless guitar, nonexistent bass, mildly entertaining drumming, and... maybe some keyboards buried under the mix? The frontman was admittedly a gifted blues harp (aka harmonica) blower, but as a singer, he, um, talked. A lot. Mostly about how he was feeling "horny as a motherfucker," which had no context the first time and was totally annoying by the last. Songs stretched on for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, and because the soundman at the mixing board somehow didn't notice that none of the vocal mics were working for the first half hour of the show, we wondered if this might be a pantomime act rather than one of the alleged cornerstones of the Chicago blues scene, led by a supposed protégé of both Otis Rush and Buddy Guy.

You might have noticed that WB never bothered to review that performance here, and we're leaving that group unnamed (and unlinked) now because it could one day be the opener for the the Rusty Wright Band when the latter, and far superior, band gets its well-deserved national recognition. But the fact that "one day" should have happened long before now is what's really puzzling us, since the Rusty Wright Band's first CD featured session work by Godsmack's (now former) drummer Tommy Stewart, and members of Lynyrd Skynyrd have posted glowing praise for RWB's ability to tear it up. Yet it's Mister Horny and the Underwhelmers who were booked at a national-level blues venue in one of the nation's premier music cities.

To which we can only say, Hey! Booking agents! A&R people! You guys have no idea what you're sleeping through — and that's a damned shame. So here, let WB help you out a little:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw this band live last year, and they are freakin' awesome. Agree they should be national by now!