Sometimes the schedules of national blues acts appearing in the Twin Cities happen to coincide with my hectic travel schedule. On Saturday night, I enjoyed my third straight night of blues in the Twin Cities and my second night in a row at Famous Dave's. Following an appearance at Luther's Blues in Madison, Wisconsin, Gary, Indiana's favorite sons, The Kinsey Report, made their presence known at Famous Dave's Uptown restaurant. As was the case the night before at Dave's, the restaurant was packed and seats hard to come by for anyone wanting to have dinner and/or listen to the music.
The heart of the Kinsey Report are the three Kinsey brothers; Ralph, Donald and Kenneth. The three talented musicians, the sons of Chicago bluesman Lester "Big Daddy" Kinsey, got their start in the blues working as members Big Daddy Kinsey's Fabulous Sons. In 1984, the brothers unveiled the original version of The Kinsey Report, again working with Big Daddy on their debut recording, Bad Situation. Later versions of the band have gone on without Big Daddy, except on rare occasions for special live performances or guest appearances on recordings, as was the case on the band's 1993 release, Crossing Bridges for the song "Chicken Heads" with Big Daddy as guest vocalist.
Led by guitarist Donald Kinsey, the current version of The Kinsey Report blazed through to fine sets of their own version of blues-funk. In addition to brothers Ralph on drums and Kenneth on bass, the band included Dave Miller on second guitar. After opening with an instrumental featuring some blistering guitar by Donald Kinsey, the band performed a unique version of Bob Seeger's classic, "Fire Down Below" from their most recent recording Smoke and Steel (1998). Their great version of "Fire Down Below" demonstrated one of the hallmarks of the band's ability to take songs that may be considered standards and making them original through their own creative arrangements. No matter whether they were playing a high energy song like "Must Be Love" from Smoke and Steel or a slow blues such as "The Sky Is Cryin'," the band played with tons of emotion that eventually got the slow starting crowd on their feet and crowding the dance floor. The band literally put out an infectious groove that ultimately fired up everyone in the room.
One of the more interesting portions of the evening occurred late in the first set when Donald Kinsey began a slow blues and started to talk about the development of the Kinsey brothers as musicians including his eventual 3 1/2 year tenure with the legendary Albert King at the urging of his father. Donald indicated that it was during this time that he really cut his teeth on the blues, setting his course for the eventual development of The Kinsey Report. The story was followed by a great version of King's "The Sky Is Cryin'" with Donald adding some extra fire to his King-style guitar licks. In an abrupt change of pace following the conclusion of "The Sky Is Cryin'," Donald referred to his subsequent tenure with another music legend, Bob Marley, prior to performing one of Marley's familiar reggae tunes.
The power packed performance by The Kinsey Report was a fitting end to my blues-filled weekend. Although it was bitterly cold outside, the blues that was heard inside all weekend long was hot and satisfying for any blues fan.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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