Wrap up reviews Pt.2 – Big Head Todd/Big Head Blues Club – Belly Up Tavern – October 22, 2011

We come to the second of my clean up reviews.

This show was advertised as the Big Head Blues Club.  A group I’d seen at the Doheny Blues Fest in May and totally loved.  They took a bunch of old Robert Johnson era material and totally rocked it on a warm spring afternoon on the beach.  But on a rainy fall evening some of that magic just wasn’t there for me.

We had great seats, just off to the left edge of the stage.  It was a terrific view.  The music selections were solid and the sound was even good.  So why didn’t it click?  Well, the promised guests all showed up, but each one only did a few numbers and then left, there was no real jam feeling and frankly it pretty much felt like a what I assume a Big Head Todd and the Monsters show would be with a few guests.  It’s a very fine line to try and draw, but there was a difference from the vibe in May.

A guy named Hadden Sayers opened with a competent set of blues.  He even brought out Ruthie Foster to do one song with him.  (She was a part of the reason we’d decided to see the show.)  His stuff was okay, but noting I rushed to the merchandise stand to buy and take home.

Just after 10pm, Todd came out and strummed a solo version of “American the Beautiful” then was joined by Cedric Burnside for “Honeyboy Edwards”.  The full band with Charlie Musselwhite did “Come in my kitchen” and “Last Fair Deal”.  A version of “Highway 61” came next, the Charlie rejoined for “Cashbox”.  Surprisingly though, once Charlie left he didn’t reappear.  I’d expected a bit more interaction (as their show had been in Doheny).  This was a series of guests and not really a “blues club” I don’t think.

Todd and the band did “I’ll play the blues for you” and then according to the printed set list swapped out “Hoochie Choochie Man” for a Big Head Todd song (and minor hit) “Please Don’t Tell Her”.  Cedric Burnside came back out for two songs (“Groove me’, “Dirty Juice”), then Ruthie Foster for three (It’s Alright”, “Kind Hearted Woman” and “When You Got a Good Friend”)  But, sadly that was the last we’d see of Ruthie who seems to play pretty infrequently around So Cal and is a favorite of Julie’s (We saw her a Doheny a few years ago and this was only the second time I’d seen her playing back this way.)

Cedric Burnside came back out for “Traveling Riverside Blues” and then the band ran through a few more songs ending with John Lee Hookers “Boom Boom”.  I expected a bit more from the encores, “Rock Steady” and “Black Betty”, mainly some of the other folks coming back out (not to harp on that or anything….)

The show wrapped at midnight exactly, which may have been a curfew that inhibited things a bit?  (Not really sure.)

In retrospect…I’m sort of mixed on the whole show.  It wasn’t a bad show…it just wasn’t exactly the show I’d hoped for and in the flurry of work that was going on I just never got back to sit down and document it.  They were great at Doheny, but I doubt that I’d go back and see another club date of the “Big Head Blues Club”.  What was magic in the sun, sort of wilted  in the dark a bit.  (But, you sure couldn’t tell that they aren’t great from the You Tube clips I went back and watched while writing this….so, what do I know anyway?)

Here’s a nice version of “Come on in My Kitchen”


And a version of “Boom Boom”


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