We spent a few days in Phoenix for meetings last week, but you know what they say about all work and no play… So we were pretty pleased to learn that harmonica player Bob Corritore was having some friends in to his Rhythm Room blues club over the weekend, the occasion being a CD release party for his Longtime Friends in the Blues album with Chicago bluesman Tail Dragger. Here’s what we wrote about the CD a few months back.
Joining Corritore and Tail Dragger for the two nights of shows were most of the other musicians from the album, including legendary blues pianist Henry Gray on keyboards and vocals, San Diego guitar duo Chris James (lead) and Patrick Rynn (bass), and Brian Fahey on drums. We had the pleasure of catching the group on its second night, where they worked through songs not only from Longtime Friends, but such classics as “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Baby Please Don’t Go,” and “I Just Keep Loving Her,” as well as music from each of the artist’s catalogues.
To view more photos from the show, visit our BluesPowR Gallery
Starting with the core group of Corritore, James, Rynn, and Fahey (together billed as the Rhythm Room All-Stars), the band helped get the dancing going early with cuts like Snooky Pryor’s “Someone to Love Me” and the Rob Stone co-written “I Need to Plant a Money Tree,” with James handling vocals in addition to lead guitar. Curiously, the floor was empty for one of the swingingest songs of the nights, Little Walter’s “I Just Keep Loving Her,” which featured solos from everyone in the band before the 87-year-old Gray took the stage with some boogie woogie piano. Despite his age, Gray’s vocals and playing both remain sharp, as demonstrated on such tunes as “It Ain’t No Use” and a bit later in the night with “The Twist” and “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Soon, the band welcomed Tail Dragger to the stage, beginning on “Sitting Here Singing My Blues” and “Don’t Start Me to Talking” before making his way around the dance floor through songs like “Stop Lying” and “Tend to Your Business,” all the while playing to the women in the crowd with his Howlin’ Wolf-like vocals and moves like Mick Jagger in a cowboy hat.
After closing the first set on the slow blues of “Be Careful” and a short break, during which we had a nice opportunity to chat with bassist Patrick Rynn about some of the musicians he and James have worked with over the years, the future of the blues, and an upcoming album, the All-Stars got things started again with a few songs from James and Rynn’s previous projects, including “Money Don’t Like Me,” a “Mona” that featured both Corritore on maracas and a nice solo from Fahey on drums, the title track off their Stop and Think About It album, and “Mister Coffee.”
It was at this point that Louisiana’s Gray returned on both vocals and piano for a few songs, soon also trading vocals with Tail Dragger on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Sugar Mama.” From there, it was on to Howlin’ Wolf’s “Ooh Baby (Hold Me)” with its “Killing Floor”-ish melody, a “She’s Worryin’ Me” that found Tail Dragger crawling the floor, and “Baby Please Don’t Go” before Dragger helped close the show, well past midnight, with a little more Wolf-like moaning.
This was – we’re somewhat ashamed to admit – our first chance to see any of these musicians live, but after a set like this, we’d pay good money to see any of them again. As talented as each is individually, we can’t think of a better way to have heard them all for the first time, during the kind of show you’ll only find at Corritore’s Rhythm Room.