New York native Bill Perry may be one of the best "unknown" guitarists toiling on today's blues scene. Though many blues fans may not recognize Perry, his resume includes an extended tenure as the guitarist for folk-rocker Richie Havens and tours with Levon Helm and Garth Hudson from The Band.
When I first picked up Bill Perry's recording on Pointblank Records, Love Scars (1996) and Greycourt Lightning (1998), I wasn't sure what I would be hearing from Mr. Perry. However, once I got these CDs into my player and began listening, I couldn't wait to see Bill Perry's performance at Whiskey Junction on Friday night.
As an added bonus, Perry's band at Whiskey Junction included bassist Johnny B. Gayden. Gayden also has an impressive resume that includes work with such blues luminaries as Albert Collins, Carey Bell and James Cotton, among others. Gayden has performed with Bill Perry for a couple of years, appearing on his latest independently released live CD, High Octane (1999). The remainder of Perry's band on Friday night included Country Joe and the Fish alumnus, David Bennett Cohen on keyboards and Billy Reyna on drums.
My first live Bill Perry show was everything that I could have hoped for. From his opening number, "Lost In The Blues," Perry's guitar was on fire. Perry used three different guitars during his first set. After opening the show on a Gibson SG-Custom; Perry shifted to his Gibson Flying V to demonstrate his mastery of the slide guitar as he seamlessly moved from "Going To New York" to "The Other Night" and the Willie Dixon classic, "Wang Dang Doodle." His slide work was greasy and very entertaining. Perry ended the first set of the evening on his surf green Fender Stratocaster including a crowd pleasing version of the Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix classic, "All Along The Watchtower," followed by Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man" and "Nobody Wants To Lose."
Bill Perry is an exceptionally talented guitarist and a genuinely nice man. He recently signed a contract with Blind Pig Records and is scheduled to release a new CD in the Spring of 2001. "The blues life it tough," he said, "You have to be on the road all the time." As he continues to live the blues life, Perry is looking forward to receiving touring support from the record company so that he can expand his touring further west of the Mississippi. After listening to Perry play his red hot blues guitar, all I can say is that Californians has something to look forward to next year!
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.