Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue”
Castro, Deanna Bogart, Magic Dick, Ronnie Baker Brooks
Live @ The New Lafayette Club,
Bloomington, Illinois -
February 7, 2008
Concert Review by Rob Paullin
The electricity went out in Bloomington last
Thursday night, but probably we should blame Ronnie Baker Brooks and
12-year old Matthew Curry instead of the power company, Mother
Nature or some wandering squirrel. More on that in a moment…
Until then, it was so hot inside the legendary
New Lafayette Club on Route 51 in Bloomington, IL on that cold, icy
Thursday night, that perhaps even the snow outside was starting to
melt. But then you might expect as much from a revue born two
years ago in the Caribbean Sea on the decks of the tropical Blues
The standing room only crowd at the Lafayette
was treated to nearly four hours of smokin’ hot blues from San
Francisco guitar whiz Tommy Castro, Baltimore keyboard master Deanna
Bogard, Boston harmonica genius Magic Dick, and Chicago blues legacy
Ronnie Baker Brooks, along with Castro’s outstanding backup
band--and two surprise guests.
Castro opened the show with “A Good Fool is
Hard to Find,” a showpiece number that let band members Tom Poole on
trumpet, Keith Crossan on sax, bassist Scot Sutherland and drummer
Chris Sandoval show their stuff on solo riffs. He also offered up
“My Turn After Awhile” and the Caribbean-ish “Wake Up Call” and a
couple of other songs from his many CD’s, before stepping aside.
If there is a problem with four acts teaming up
for a review, it’s that nobody gets to really establish
themselves—Castro only soloed on five songs in just over a half hour
on stage before handing the microphone over to Deanna Bogart, a star
writer and vocalist in her own right. She killed the crowd with
songs like “You Got What it Takes” before abandoning her keyboards
for her own saxophone solo on “Girl in the Band.” Castro saxophone
player Crossan stepped into the shadows for this one, before
surprising and delighting the crowd by pulling a flute out of his
sax for a quick solo.
J. Geils Band founding member Magic Dick was
next, bringing a bag full of harmonicas to the stage for a too short
set that included the jazzy “I’ve Got to Find My Baby” and the radio
friendly J. Geils hit “Give It To Me.”
Ronnie Baker Brooks chased Magic Dick off the
stage with the rockin’ “Can’t You See What You’ve Done to Me” before
pouring some serious soul into the blusy love song, “Give Me Your
Love.” Brooks invoked the memory of his legendary father Lonnie
Brooks on “Take Me Wicha,” a blues rocker that saw him wander into
the audience to play slide guitar with the beer bottle of surprised
fan Dave Long of Bloomington before standing up on a chair to pick
out a solo with his teeth.
When he returned to the stage without
missing a lick, somehow his guitar had found its way into the hands
of 19-year old Bo Coleman of Mackinaw, Illinois, who then shared the
guitar—the same guitar—with Brooks as they wrapped up the set.
It was time for a break, and we all needed it
after nearly three hours of standing, dancing, singing, cheering and
clapping. And beer…. It also gave us a chance to
meet and talk with Castro and his companions, all of whom seem to
have an easy, up-close relationship with their fans.
Then it was jam time….
All four headliners returned to the stage along
with Castro’s band for “Nasty Habits,” a blues pounder that features
some outstanding guitar work from Castro and Brooks. Bogard
followed with “Unchain My Heart,” another opportunity for her to
show off both her voice and her keyboard skills.
Then Castro explained to the audience that to
keep their tour fresh, they often call the local Blues society in
the cities where they play to find an up and coming guest to jam
with them for a tune or two. On this night, in this city, that
guest just happened to be 12-year old Matthew Curry of Bloomington, who’s
good looks and long blond hair will keep the girls screaming for
years to come.
Brooks introduced Curry and explained they
always ask what song their guest wants to do with the band. Brooks
told the audience the band knew they had a good one when Curry asked
to do Albert Collins’ “You Talk Too Much.”
Curry, Brooks, Castro
and the rest of the band then proceeded to suck the electricity out
of the grid with a power rendition that even amazed the surprised
Castro who could only stand and shake his head as Curry and Brooks
traded licks on an extended guitar solo which brought the audience
to it’s feet for a standing—and dancing—ovation.
When it was all over, Brooks noted that Collins
was surely smiling down on everybody that night. He then offered
some advice to young Curry: “Keep your nose clean. Stay in
school—it’s still show BUSINESS. And don’t forget us when you’re
rich and famous!” He should have added, “...and don’t blow out the
circuit breakers” because at that exact moment the power failed
pretty much city-wide, bringing a too-early end to an electrifying
four-hour night of snow-melting blues in downstate Illinois.
When Tommy Castro’s “Legendary Rhythm and Blues
Review” comes to your city, get your tickets early or you’ll be shut
out. This one was an amazing bargain at only $20 a ticket, and
worth every penny.
Reviewer Rob Paullin is a former Memphis
radio guy . Rob has sampled the blues in Venice, Kyiv and
Beijing, among other foreign haunts. He says Berlin is next on his list..