32 Degrees is a very cool place in the very warm South Florida town of Delray Beach. Located at the site where The Backroom used to be (formerly one of my favorite South Florida blues clubs), 32 Degrees offers regular blues shows featuring national, regional and local blues performers mixed in with alternative, pop, rock and a variety of other musical acts. On this particular Saturday evening, guitarist Big Mike Griffin was making one of his
regular South Florida appearances. I had been lucky enough to talk with Big Mike the night before at a benefit show he was doing for an organization called Kids In Distress at Club Nevis in Fort Lauderdale. At that time, Mike invited me to come and see his "blues show" at 32 Degrees on Saturday night; an invitation I just couldn't pass up!
Big Mike Griffin is a big man from Tennessee who gets a big sound from his guitar.
Backed by bass player, Jer "Chili Sauce" Hoffman and drummer Johnny Bird, Griffin
mixes his blues with some rock n' roll, soul and a touch of country-western to concoct his distinctive style. With judicious use of his bank of special effects pedals and several different guitars, Big Mike Griffin can really lay down an exciting guitar sound. His latest CD, Living Large, is due out in January and Mike promised me that it would be an excellent recording with a little something new for his fans.
The Saturday show at 32 Degrees featured some soulful tunes like "I'd Rather Go Blind;" a bit of funk with "Light Your Fire," featuring Jer Hoffman on vocals; some rock
n' roll on "My Baby Left Me (Cause I Wouldn't Lay My Guitar Down)," which included
Mike's walk through the crowd as he let his guitar do the talking; and finally some
sparkling cajun sounds with "Bon Ton Roulette." Some of the best songs during the
evening were his straight ahead blues tunes like "Low Down Dirty Ways" and "Highway 49." On the Howlin' Wolf classic, "Little Red Rooster," Griffin included some audience participation as the "dogs began to bark" featuring the men and the "hounds began to howl," as the women answered the call.
Whether its on one of his custom guitars, or on a $125 Danelectro, Big Mike Griffin
knows how to influence a crowd by making his guitar scream and cry. Surprisingly,
Griffin told me that he has never made an appearance in the Twin Cities (actually in
Minnesota or Wisconsin). I can only suggest that blues fans in the upper Midwest have missed out on a very fine musical talent. Hopefully, this unfortunate omission will be corrected in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, check out Big Mike Griffin's website (www.bigmikegriffin.com) and pick up some of his music so that you can be ready when Big Mike comes to your city.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.