Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
Five discs into the run that started when Little Charlie Baty hung up his front man status and turned the reins over to Rick Estrin, The Nightcats continue their winning streak of well-crafted releases that honor blues history but keep an eye on today. Featuring Estrin on lead vocals and harmonica, Lorenzo Farrell on organ and piano, Kid Anderson on guitar and Derrick D’Mar Martin on drums and percussion, and some assorted guests, the band tours a number of subjects including dealing with a crazy mate, "She Nuts Up", being chased by old man time, "I’m Running", getting beat by old man time, "Main Event", the sad sack efforts of veteran bands to appeal to modern audiences by incorporating rap, hip-hop, false farewell tours and appeals to social causes in order to be relevant in a modern age, "Contemporary", a warning to their male friends that their women not only play chess while they are learning checkers but keep track of every slight or mistake, "Resentment File", and an appreciation of a woman who has blossomed from skin and bones to a sight to behold, "New Shape (Remembering Junior Parker)". Throughout, Estrin lays down his semi-spoken wise-guy vocals over a hot groove laid down by the rest of the band. Apart from the wide-ranging lyrics, it’s hard to pick what’s tastier on the instrumental front: Estrin’s classic harmonica riffs or Kid Andersen’s endlessly inventive guitar. Both are at the top of their game and could certainly go toe-to-toe with any of their blues peers. That’s not to diminish the role of either Farrell or Martin, both of whom make key contributions to the overall sound of this disc. It’s simply to point out that Estrin and Andersen spend more time in the spotlight. The entire band gets to flex its chops on a trio of instrumentals: the rocking blues of "House of Grease" and "Bo Dee’s Bounce" and the jazzy "Cupcakin’". As the 12 cuts collected here reveal, The Nightcats don’t need to change a thing to be a hit with old and new audiences alike. Smitty
review by Mark
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