Sweet, Cool, Breeze, just the feeling I was looking for on this warm Florida night. On vacation with my wife, I was itchy to hear some blues. I'd recently heard about this harp player and to my surprise found that he was appearing close to us. With little pleading, (she knows my obsession), we ventured to check these guys out. What I got was a SMOKING band from western Massachusetts, heating the night up even more.
Wally "Sweet Daddy" Greaney and his tight band just lit the place up, opening with an uptempo "Chicken Shack" and rolling into an original called "Bark." The packed house on this Sunday night sat up and took notice immediately. I spied a saxophone on stage and on the next song, "Sweet Daddy" showed he can play both the "Mississippi saxophone" and the real thing equally as well. Opening "Teeny Weeny Bit of Your Love " on harp, he soloed and brought it home on the sax. Nice touch.
A little history on "Sweet Daddy." He's been playing professionally since the mid 70's, has recorded or worked with Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells. Opened for Taj Mahal, Koko Taylor, James Cotton and Buddy Guy. Has toured internationally for a number of years, recording a CD "Live in France," which has received much acclaim in the blues periodicals.
Did I mention his vocals? Moving from straight ahead Chicago to slow blues to swing, this guy captures the feeling. On the Ray Charles song "Green Back Dollar Bill," "Sweet Daddy" shows his storytelling ability as well. I particularly liked the Louis Jordan tune, "Outskirts of Town," with the slow, haunting harmonica and oh so soulful vocals. The band kicked through several more songs in this long first set, including "Somebody" (Rod Piazza), an original song about a devoted "Sweet Daddy" fan called "He Loved the Blues," a swing tune called "I Love the Blues," Freddy King's "Boogie Man" and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Cross My Heart" (the last two done real funky). They closed the set out with an extended boogie instrumental showcasing "Sweet Daddy's" harp proficiency, changing tempo (he even inserted a couple of lines from Amazing Grace) and literally blowin' himself blue!
The band: Mark Easton on guitar. He's been working with "Sweet Daddy" since 1999 and recorded on "Blowing Down the House," the newest S.D.C.B. CD. This guy just attacks like it's his last show. Given plenty of room to play, Mark threw killer solos one after another at the crowd, only to have them cry for more. And he obliged, even trading solos with "S.D." on "Cross My Heart." With his shaven head and husky physique, one might expect a raw sound, but what comes at you is masterful phrasing and a really nice touch.
The rhythm section consisted of Eddie Humber on bass and Patrick Levery on drums. I don't know much about either of these guys, except that the drummer came on for this Florida tour. They set the groove very well, hitting all of the stops, (Wally loves stops), as if they'd been together for a while. This is a tight band, and having caught them at the end of their tour, anything unfamiliar to the rhythm section had been worked out.
My wife loves sax and wanted to hear more so I mentioned that to "S.D." He opened the set with two numbers on sax, "Sissy Strut" and "Doing What I Choose"(another original), blowing with such intensity that it moved a group of vacationing women to throw money into his sax while he was playing! It was getting late and we had to drive a little ways through unfamiliar territory so we didn't see the end of the show. The last songs we heard were Kim Wilson's "Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds You" and a real down in the alley version of "The Sky is Crying," with S.D. using his chromatic to express the passion of the song.
"Sweet Daddy Cool Breeze" is one of those "must see" bands. Hopefully he'll book a tour through the Midwest and stop on bye. Sure added to my vacation. He has 3 CD's out and you can look them up on his website at: http://come.to/sweetdaddy
This review is copyright © 2001 by Harold Tremblay, 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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