Only a few weeks ago, BamBoo Room owner Russell Hibbard was expressing his disappointment to me that he had been forced to cancel a show featuring soul shouter Nappy Brown, backed by Muddy Water's alum, Bob Margolin due to a paralyzing snow storm in the Carolinas. When I prepared for my most recent visit to South Florida, I was expecting to see Chicago harpman Paul Oscher. However, when I arrived, my review of the local entertainment newspaper indicated that Mr. Oscher had been rescheduled for two weeks later in February. The temporary letdown I experienced was quickly repaired when I found out that Nappy Brown and Bob Margolin had been rescheduled to coincide with my current visit.
Nappy Brown is an excellent singer and an amazing showman from North Carolina. Along with a number of R+B hits in the 1950's including "Don't Be Angry," "Pitter Patter" and "It Don't Hurt No More," Brown write the song "Night Time Is The Right Time," a song that Soul singer Ray Charles made famous and one that according to Brown, "Put money in my pocket." On Saturday evening at The BamBoo Room, the well attended show allowed blues lovers an opportunity to witness one of the best shows that I have ever seen at The BamBoo Room, or anywhere for that matter.
The show opened with Nappy sitting at a table in the audience while Bob Margolin, the "Steady Rollin' Man," performed several numbers accompanied by North Carolinians Mookie Brill on upright bass and Russ Wilson on drums. This three piece combo put out a big sound and Margolin was in the best form that I have ever seen either as a solo artist or backing other performers like Muddy's son, Big Bill Morganfield. On the openers, "Lost Again" and "Chicago Blues," Margolin's guitar style conjured up vivid images of Muddy in his heyday, with the notes ringing crisp and clear. Just prior to Nappy Brown's performance, Mookie Brill and Russ Wilson took the vocals for "Bring It On Home," featuring some great vocal harmonies, followed by Wilson taking lead vocals on Big Joe Turner's classic, "The Chicken and The Hawk." The three piece combo finished up with Margolin demonstrating his funky side on the song "So Many Miles."
When Margolin next stepped up to the microphone posed the standard question, "Are you ready for showtime?," no one in the audience, myself included, could have imaged the terrific show that they were about to see. Brown strode on the stage resplendently attired in a dark blue gangster pinstriped suit, a light blue and white striped shirt with white cuffs/collar and as stylish blue and beige patterned tie. Nappy gave notice of what was ahead for the evening as he belted out the first words of his opening number, "Who Told You," and the evening only got better from there. Brown's booming vocals were nicely supported by Margolin and Company on a variety of tunes including his classic hit, "Night Time Is The Right Time." He clearly grabbed the attention of the ladies in the audience when he strolled through the audience continuing to sing the song, sans microphone, his voice continuing to boom over the music. The song and the set ended with Brown at the stage, laying on his back, rocking suggestively as he continued to sing. The audience expressed their pleasure at the quality of the first set with a ringing round of applause and noted anticipation of set number two.
After a short break, the band returned to the stage to prepare everyone for the now much anticipated return of Nappy Brown for his second set. During the early part of the second set, Mookie Brill put aside his upright bass to concentrate on filling Margolin's fantastic guitar with some excellent harp fills. The sound the band produced maintained its strength, even without the rhythmic bass line. The second set provided a bit more variety with songs like "My Gal Is Red Hot" (Brill and Wilson on vocals), the aforementioned Muddy classics like "Mannish Boy," rock-a-billy in the form of Johnny Burnett's "Rock A Billy Boogie," and a bit of crooning by Russ Wilson on "I Don't Even Know Your Name."
Nappy came on to finish the evening with some more great songs, including Muddy's classic, "Rock Me Baby" and his own hit, "Don't Be Angry." However, the most memorable part of the second set was when Nappy proved his claim of being a "bad man" by sing the filthy dirty blues song, "Lemon Squeezin' Daddy." As part of the entertainment during this song, Brown gyrated, groaned, moaned and otherwise aroused the crowd with the sexual lyrics and explicit visual performance. The song was fantastic and had everyone in the audience screaming by the time he was finished.
Not too long ago, I heard a rumor that Nappy Brown was dead. After Saturday's show at The BamBoo Room, I can "garontee" you that nothing could be further from the truth. Nappy Brown, at the young age of 72, has more life in him and offers a more entertaining show than any number of performers half of his age (and younger). If you ever get a chance to see this musical legend perform, seize the opportunity! I know I will.
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