THE KNICKERBOCKER ALL-STARS
OPEN MIC AT THE KNICK
JP CADILLAC RECORDS JPS 1000
YOU UPSET ME BABY–TURN ON YOUR LOVE LIGHT–MOTHER-IN-LAW BLUES–LOVE DISEASE–JELLY JELLY–RECONSIDER BABY–IT’S LATER THAN YOU THINK–AIN’T THAT LOVIN’ YOU–FIVE LONG YEARS–SOMEBODY’S GOT TO GO–I’M TORE DOWN–ALONG ABOUT MIDNIGHT–GOING DOWN
Back in the Seventies and early Eighties in the Westerly, RI, area, “Open Mic At The Knick” was a guaranteed good time. On Sunday nights, the area’s best blues and jump-blues players gathered at the Knickerbocker Cafe for an all-star jam session that included many of the players that would go on to help create or play in Roomful Of Blues. That call to the bandstand also serves as the title of this most excellent set from those very same Knickerbocker All-Stars
Treating this one as a big-band revue of sorts, the band plays behind a varied cast of lead singers, each lending their own take to the classic R & B tunes selected for this affair. The musicians are almost as well-known as the singers, and include Bobby and Fran Christina on drums, Nick Adams and Ricky King Russell on guitars, Rich Lataille on sax, Al Copley and David Maxwell on piano, and a host of other luminary sidemen.
Sugar Ray Norcia starts the party swingin’ with B. B.’s “You Upset Me Baby,” then returns later for another jump-blues ode to “havin’ some fun today, ’cause It’s Later Than You Think,” with Al Copley on piano. Curtis Salgado’s take on “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” has a jazzy feel, while Mike O’Connell rides that killer riff from Ricky King Russell for all it’s worth on the Don Nix-penned, Freddie King favorite, “Going Down,” with David Maxwell on the piano.
The fellows dig deep for some serious slow blues as Willy Laws lays down a mean “Five Long Years,” and, one of our favorite singers of all time, Johnny Nicholas, brings the heat on “Along About Midnight.” Nicholas had a hand in our other favorites, too. Johnny often sat in with Roomful Of Blues whenever he would visit from Texas, and he adds the swing to both “Jelly Jelly” and “Reconsider Baby,” again with David Maxwell on piano. Malford Milligan’s read on Bobby Bland’s “Turn On Your Love Light” might be the set’s best cut. It certainly has the energy, supplied by that hi-test horn section over Malford’s vocal, and the arrangement is as authentic as it gets.
“Open Mic At THe Knick” from the Knickerbocker All-Stars proves that good music, played by an awesome cast of musicians is timeless, and never goes out of style. This one was a blast from start to finish!! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.