Even those of us seemingly afflicted by “Born Under a Bad Sign” syndrome (you know, where “if it wasn’t bad luck, [we] wouldn’t have no luck at all”) can experience a small stroke of good fortune every once in a while, such as our needing to be in Phoenix a few weekends back for a work meeting and discovering that guitarist John Primer and harmonica player Bob Corritore — who we would later learn first met one another back in the 1970s when Corritore went to see a Primer-supported Junior Wells play — happened to be performing at Corritore’s local blues club The Rhythm Room in conjunction with the pair’s sophomore album Ain’t Nothing You Can Do!, about which we told you recently.
Having previously seen these two play together (along with a stageful of other greats including Bob Margolin, Bob Stroger, and the late pianist David Maxwell) during a Muddy Waters tribute show at 2014’s Project Blues fundraiser, and enthusiastically now reviewed both of their joint albums, we knew this was a show for which it would be well worth flagging a ride to the club. And we weren’t the only ones, with The Rhythm Room as lively and packed as we’ve seen it in our multiple visits. While the crowd on the dance floor didn’t allow us to get as many pictures of the band as we might have liked, we were able to snap a few decent shots throughout the evening, and the music, of course, was delightful, with Primer and Corritore hitting on not only a few numbers (“Elevate Me Mama”, “Hold Me in Your Arms”, “Gambling Blues”, and “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do”) from the latest album, but a slew of other blues standards from such masters as Primer’s one-time bandleaders Muddy Waters and Magic Slim, as well as Sonny Boy Williamson, Freddie King, B.B. King, and others, including tracks like “Young Fashioned Ways”, “You Don’t Have to Go”, a “Close to You” on which Primer stepped from the stage to get close to the audience, “Every Day I Have the Blues”, “Help Me, Baby (I Can’t Do It All By Myself)”, “I Wonder Why (My Baby Don’t Treat Me Right)”, a slow, R&Bish “Help Me Through the Day”, “Love Strikes Like Lightning”, and “Bad Luck (Falling Down Like Rain)”.
Backing Primer and Corritore was a talented band featuring fellow Corritore collaborator Big Jon Atkinson on guitar, Troy Sandow on bass, and Marty Dodson on drums, with Atkinson also dishing out vocals at the start of both sets before Primer took the stage. That really made this like getting two great shows for the price one, with the young burly bluesman fronting on such numbers as “Blues Hates Everybody”, “Early in the Morning”, and “Giving You Fair Warning”, while also being frequently called upon by Primer later in the sets to provide solos.
If you ever get the chance to see Primer and Corritore (or better yet, Primer, Corritore, and Atkinson) play together, be sure to thank your lucky stars and take it!