James Solberg always puts on a great show based on his brilliant blues guitar playing, well-crafted original songs, and passionate vocals backed by a solid band. On his return to Famous Dave's, James invited old friend and band mate Charlie Bingham along for the trip. The fuller, richer, two-guitar sound added something special to the show, as did the pure fun James obviously had playing with his buddy and fellow talented guitarist.
James kicked things off with a long, energetic, ringing guitar intro into "Nobody Wants to Die." He then let accomplished B-3 master Larry Byrne lead the way on his original "Buzz Me Baby." This song, as so many of Solberg's songs do, deals with subjects everyone faces in life, primarily our relationships with ourselves and others, on levels that hit both your heart and head. The inter-play between Solberg's and Charlie's guitar's and Larry's powerful B-3 voicings make this song a treat to listen and dance to. Solberg wowed the crowd with his howling, growling, and ringing guitar licks on "The Hand Your Dealt," the title cut from one of his CD's. Solberg's haunting, world-weary, accepting lyrics delivered with his usual passion and energy made this song reach out and grab the crowd.
Since there were a number of long time Solberg fans in the crowd, someone requested "St. James Infirmary," which he had covered on his first CD, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean. Great guitar work by Solberg and Bingham, supported by dark, atmospheric B-3 organ by Larry gave this old blues song new life with the soul and emotion of the original. James kept the emotional feel to the set running high by following right back with "LA Blues," his tribute to Luther Allison, the great guitarist, blues man, and friend and band mate for many years to Solberg. Solberg and Bingham were standing side by side, trading licks, James smiling and having fun playing with his old friend. It was great to see and hear how seamlessly they could trade lead back and forth, challenging and pushing each other throughout the night, but most of all having more fun than any of the fans in attendance.
It being the holiday season, Solberg gave the crowd a solid instrumental of "Auld Lang Zyne" and a very solid version of "Merry Christmas Baby." The Famous Dave's crowd responded enthusiastically all night, people crowding the dance floor, trying to get close to see and hear one of the top blues guitar players of our time. In addition to Larry Byrne on Hammond B-3 organ, James was backed by the solid rhythm section of Mark Lillis on bass and Michael "Taco" Velasquez on drums. Both acquitted themselves well in helping to provide a great evening of blues. I know many fans in attendance are hoping Solberg will invite Charlie to play with him again when he comes back to town. Solberg's new CD, Raw, is scheduled to be released in January. Solbeg says if you like blues guitar, you'll like it, since it has a whole lot of "gitar."
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