Lil' Ed hit the Famous Dave's stage at full throttle, playing high energy blues as he made his guitar snarl, ring, and howl on his first song, "How Long." Sharply dressed as always in a red and white fez, colorful, sequined vest, and red pants, Lil' Ed smiled his great big smile and moved with the music as he filled the room with energy and passion. A great slide guitar player, he had it howling as he picked fast and worked his slide hand furiously on "I Need You." Lil' Ed complemented his great guitar playing with strong, passionate vocals, filled with his energy and enthusiasm for the music.
Most of Lil' Ed's first set featured hard-charging, up-tempo blues driven by his howling / ringing slide guitar, fast picking, and strong, husky vocals. Yet he could bring it down a notch, as he did on his great cover of "Stormy Monday." Here he showed off his guitar and showmanship skills, giving some great, slow, subtle picking along with some strong, grinding guitar licks. A veteran performer and crowd favorite, Lil' Ed worked the crowd like the master blues showman he is, getting them up and dancing right away, paying attention to the music, and responding with enthusiasm. He kept things rolling right along on "I've Got So Far To Go," playing howling, snarling, repeating chords, using his hand as a slide for vibrato. Lil' Ed wowed the crowd with his great fretwork as his band provided a solid, steady backing groove.
It being the holidays, Lil' Ed served up a little different holiday song in "It's New Year's." His warm, expressive vocals and howling, repeating guitar licks ringing out celebrated the holidays in expressive, passionate blues style. Lil' Ed came back in his second set with even more great, energetic blues. The double-shuffle of "Chicken and Gravy" had him dancing, shaking, and playing all over the stage, backed by strong harmonies from band on the refrain. Lil' Ed's wicked slide guitar and shouting vocals made you hungry for the food and down home place he was singing about. He made his guitar wail like a demon as he played high, held notes, shaking his guitar as he moved, danced, and shook. You sometimes wonder with Lil' Ed if he is shaking the guitar, or the guitar has taken hold and is shaking him. Either way, it's tough to match the energy and enthusiasm he puts into his shows.
Lil' Ed then launched into a long medley of John Lee Hooker, anchored by "Boogie Chillun." His great chord progressions, wild boogie riffs, and enthusiasm had the crowd clapping their hands in time to the music before he left the stage. Lil' Ed strolled through the crowd playing, stopping briefly to wow tables of seated fans before getting down on his knees to play in the middle of the room. Not missing a lick, he bent way back while on his knees. Meanwhile, couples energized by his dynamic, electric performance crowded the dance floor. Lil' Ed's cover of "It's a Beautiful World" allowed him to show his tight, funky slide playing, again using his hand as a slide. Lil' Ed's rhythm section got a chance to shine on the hard driving double-shuffle, "Do the Alligator." His energetic, expressive playing off his solid rhythm section made for a funky, danceable song much appreciated by the fans on the crowded dance floor.
Lil' Ed was backed by solid players Paul Buschbacher on rhythm guitar, James Young on bass, and Kelly Littleton on drums. These guys can flat out play, and have to be in great shape just from keeping up with Lil' Ed. Most of the fans, especially the many enthusiastic dancers motivated by Ed's energy, left the show sweaty and satisfied. Lil' Ed is a tremendous musician and a great showman for blues. And if you missed him at Famous Dave's, you can catch him Friday January 31st at Whiskey Junction. Be sure to wear your dance shoes and bring lots of energy if you go.
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