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With the departure of namesake Little Charlie Baty, this well seasoned West Coast blues band has morphed from Little Charlie and the Nightcats to Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. For occasional listeners, this isn’t much of a change since Estrin has been the band’s lead singer, harmonica ace and primary lyricist throughout the band’s history. Estrin’s top notch harmonica skills remain intact as evidenced on the rocking "Big Time" and "P.A. Slim Is Back", the aptly titled instrumental, "Cool Breeze" and the simmering "Take It Slow". His trademark wit and sly vocals have made the transition as well with "Back from the Dead leading" the charge with its tale of surviving all manner of debauchery. Those with more than a casual acquaintance with the band will notice a major change by virtue of the switch in guitarists. While Baty was an inventive, jazzy player in the vein of B’nois King, replacement Kid Andersen is more of a roots rocker with a taste for Rockabilly. The guitar fueled "ack From the Dead"could easily find a home on a Southern Culture on the Skids disc while the chicken scratch riffing on "UBU" is more Elvin Bishop than B.B. King. Andersen also proves to be comfortable in the spotlight: the instrumental "Earthquake" features dense slabs surf guitar worthy of Los Straitjackets while "Bigfoot" sounds like an homage to Link Wray. That’s not to say that Andersen is all rough and tumble. The slow grinding "Catchin’ Hell" and "Cool Breeze" both feature some restrained, yet tasty, string stretching. While Baty will surely be missed, this revamped version of the band stands tall against his legacy. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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