Who let the word out? It was Twin Cities Blues News with Walter Trout pictured on the cover of the June issue and a CD review of Walter Trout and The Radicals' "Go the Distance" release inside.
At previous Walter Trout shows at the Minnesota Music Cafe, I have arrived early--in plenty of time to beat the crowd. I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked in hours before this show and found MMC packed. Minnesota is without a doubt Walter Trout's home away from home.
The stage lights go on and Walter lit up the place with his rousing "I Can Tell." Walter Trout is in the house. One song into the show and the applause reached a feverish pitch. "Walkin'in the Rain", a bluesy number, gets everyone swaying to the music. Loud applause rose up over the music. Walter acknowledged the enthusiasm by announcing, "We are gonna have a good time tonight." "The Reason I'm Gone", a down-in-the-alley, nasty blues number (as Walter puts it), gripped everyone's inner souls. This number displayed his classical teases, talking guitar licks and cello-like tones.
"Come Home" picked up the tempo and offered Walter a chance to share the workload with the keyboardist, Bill Mason. Bill is a new addition to the Radicals. He started playing the organ around age seven and honed his talents in his later years by touring with major artists., starting with Eddie Money, then Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi (originally of Traffic).
Now Walter and the Radicals' visit this time came at a time when the weather and social climate was hot and sticky in Minnesota. Walter delivered his newest poignant song and an anthem to us all, "Go The Distance", belting out " So many times I just wanna shout, you may knock me down, but you still ain't knock me out, cause I swear, I swear I'm gonna Go The Distance." Oh, wow. Put this one on your player at home when the world is pressing you down.
This overflowing set wound down with a ballad to his wife, Marie, titled "Faithful." A song for the bikers in the house, "Ride Till I'm Satisfied," followed. Once again the keyboard work by Bill Mason shined on this one. He then finished by flaming the MTV format with "I Don't Want My MTV."
Walter starts up the second set by not forgetting those who have employed him. He dedicates "Love So Deep" to his ex-boss, John Lee Hooker, who recently passed on. Another bluesy tune follows, and then he employs the downtrodden to rise up with his chilling, "Looking For The Promised Land." The next song, "Message On The Doorway", lets us know that no matter where you are on the social scale, you can speak up for yourself. In this case a homeless women lets Walter know about the unwanted publicity she got from a song he wrote about her. Bassist James Trapp lays down a heavy bass beat on this one.
The set is rounded out with songs continuing to speak to the heart and soul of humanity, which of course--as all you blues fans out there know--is what blues is all about. Walter Trout isn't just about fiery guitar licks; he is a songwriter, a bluesman, giving voice to the blues.
Speaking of voices, the Radicals new additions, drummer Kenny Soule and keyboardist/piano player Bill Mason, are backing up Walter Trout on vocals. This of course is once again classic Walter sharing the spotlight. I found the three-part harmonies a pleasant surprise and a highlight to the show.
Kenny Soule's energetic drumming is very visible. Like James Trapp mentioned to me after the show, "It is hard to keep up with Trout's energy." It is evident that Kenny and Bill are taking on the challenge.
Walter doesn't like to leave out any influences on his life, so he included a slow buildup and rapping finish to Dylan's "I Shall Be Released", a nice treatment of "Amazing Grace", and a song remembering a high school friend from his Drum and Bugle Corp in New Jersey, "Bugle Billy." Billy went the distance, dying in the Vietnam War.
After the show, I heard Walter Trout explaining to the lighting technician that he preferred not to have the spotlight on himself so much, that he liked to see the crowd and feel their presence. That is certainly indicative of what Walter the bluesman is all about. Whenever Walter Trout and The Radicals are in town, "Go The Distance" to experience a time of your life.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Frankie Abts, 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.