While Mem Shannon and the Membership are one of the most traveled and highly visible groups in blues today, they had never played La Crosse before or appeared in the legendary Nighthawks Blues Tap Room. This was sure to be an exciting evening as a real blues player met up with a real deal blues room.
Nighthawks has been one of Southern Wisconsin's leading blues venues for over a decade. As a part of their Summer Concert Series 2003 that includes: Hamilton Loomis, Tyrin Benoit & The Shuckers, Paul Koch & The Tone Controls, Rockin' Jake, Paul Galaxy & The Galatix, and Big Daddy Cade & The Blues Masters, they booked Shannon to be the Aanchor@ for the series.
Nighthawks is a small room that maybe sits 75 cheek to cheek. Small elevated stage, house sound system, and a ton of blues history.
Owned by Chris "Ras" Rasmussen, many of the biggest names in the blues have played this club. It's not uncommon to stop into the club mid-day and see a well known blues artist who was just "passing through", stop by and see @Ras@.
Mem is on tour of his 2002 release , "Memphis In The Morning" (Sanachie Records 9031), that was one of the most widely acclaimed blues releases on 2002.
His signature song of, "S.U.V.", shares his views on the gas guzzling, road hogging, SUV's of today, it's a classic! It was nominated for a 2002 Handy Award as the Blues Song Of The Year, and was named Song of The Year by Living Blues Magazine.
Shannon and the Membership call New Orleans home, so their blues is part traditional, part funk via the inspiration of the Meters, with a dash of Memphis soul blended in.
At this show the Membership was comprised of: Steve Reichlen on drums, Sean Carey on bass, and Robert Dabon on keyboards.
One couldn=t help but notice the tightness of the band. It was as if they were playing and delivering as one. There must be something in the water when it comes to ABig Easy@ musicians.
The sound was blues based with a high funk content. Shannon played 99% originals with a rare cover mixed in from time to time. Sorry, no AMustang Sally@ this time out.
The show was a mix of songs from his past three CD=s with almost all the songs from his AMemphis In The Morning@ being offered up before the night was over.
Shannon is not what you would call a Ashowman@, he let his outstanding voice and tasty guitar work carry the show for him.
While his band was top notch, the unbelievable funky drum work by Reichlen was incredible. This kid must have graduated first in his class from the Zigaboo Modeliste (Meters) school of drumming.
The crowd was made up of mostly college age students and blues fans that had heard of Shannon=s reputation. Who said college kids of today don=t understand the blues? They understand good music!
As expected AS.U.V.@ drew a huge crowd response as did the outstanding AMemphis In The Morning@. Other original Shannon masterpieces that the crowd asked for included: AShake Up The Floor@, AWhy I Sing The Blues@, and AI Love The Way You Love@.
This has to rank with one of the tightest blues shows I=ve seen and experienced so far this year. If Mem and the Membership are in your area, don=t miss them.
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