Big Daddy Billy Cade made his Twin Cities debut striding onto stage in a black tux and carrying his black and white Lucille style guitar. Before his long set of the King of the Blues music, he heated up the large crowd at Famous Dave's with a tight set of smoking blues featuring his hot, expressive guitar, strong, husky vocals, and a large, tight backing band. Having two veteran keyboard players on B-3 and electronic keyboards, three talented sax players, a capable bass player, and a talented, energetic young drummer made for a great ensemble sound. Big Daddy captured the entire rooms right away with his playing and his presence. Kicking things off with "Looking for a New Kind of Love" his smoking guitar and strong, passionate vocals had the crowd responding with enthusiasm. Big Daddy can play blues classics funky with his own spin, as he did on "Sweet Home Chicago" by using the wah-wah peddle and stinging, driving guitar licks backed by great B-3 organ playing by James "Hurricane" Hackney and the swinging edge of his three horns. Big Daddy can also play it straight-forward, as on the Albert King classic "I Play the Blues for You." Big Daddy has great tone with his stinging guitar riffs, playing some nice, hard hitting, soulful notes that would have pleased Albert.
But it was the B. B. King tribute the entire second set that really kicked the crowd into high. After two brief warm-up numbers, solidly played by the large, talented blues band, Big Daddy strode out in his black and gold tuxedo jacket and black framed sunglasses looking uncannily like a young B. B. King. He proceeded to heat up the house with "Rock Me Baby," sometimes sounding more like B. B. King than the King does himself these days. With his expressive, ringing guitar licks delivered with the style, sound, and spirit of the original, Big Daddy had become B. B. He has all the little mannerisms down, from how he moves on stage, addresses the crowd, sings, and plays guitar. Big Daddy even closed out the song with a flourish on guitar, leaving one last, echoing note to hang in the air. The impressed crowd clapped and cheered their approval enthusiastically.
Big Daddy wowed the crowd again with his beautiful, soulful playing and singing on "Sweet Little Angel." Here he even had down B. B's advice to men and woman on relationships, talking briefly to the crowd as his band played soft, slow, soulful blues behind him. Big Daddy's slow, soulful playing, rising with howling passion had the slow dancers on the dance floor moving with true feeling. His backing band achieved a huge, rich sound worthy of B. B's band itself. Billy closed out his B. B. King tribute with a powerfully delivered "Thrill Is Gone." Here Big Daddy's clean, sharply expressive guitar riffs echoed B. B's unique sound on the intro. This was sweet, beautiful, blues guitar at its best. His sweetly stinging blues guitar, delivered with the same spirit, style, and passion as B. B., made him for a time become the King.
For his last set Big Daddy played a mix of music from soul, R&B, blues, and funk. He kept many in the crowd around to hear it, and drew many passing younger folks into dance. Big Daddy's playing and singing on "Respect Yourself" and "Soul with a Capital 'S'" were both fast, funky, tight R&B that showed off what a talented and versatile performer he is. The dance floor was filled the entire set. Big Daddy closed things off with a rousing, rollicking cover of the Louis Jordan classic "Let the Good Times Roll." While B. B. often plays this near the beginning of his show, Big Daddy put an enthusiastic exclamation point on a great night of music by rocking the house with it for his encore. Solid player Dave Armstrong on bass and the young, energetic, and very talented Bill "The Hawk" Tourville provided the great sounding, driving rhythm. The three sax players, Devin Freedlund, Ben Peterson, and Max Felsheirm provided the hip, swinging Jordan style horn sound. "Jukebox" Eddie Vespa added his rocking, ringing electronic keyboard sound. The senior member of the band, James "Hurricane" Hackney added his hard grinding, expressive Hammond B-3 to flesh out a strong, talented, great-sounding ensemble.
Big Daddy and his band hail from LaCrosse, WI, although he is originally from Chicago. His is the only B. B. King tribute show that the King himself has approved of, and he performs it several weeks each year in B. B's present home town of Las Vegas. Big Daddy and The Blues Masters were recently signed by Hard Knox records of Iowa and are going into the studio the end of October to record a new CD. Hopefully the good folks at Famous Dave's will have them back soon to rock the house with their great blues sound.
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