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Bill Perry
@ Famous Dave's, Mpls., October 16, 1998
by Ann Wickstrom

Bill Perry
Photo 1998 by Tom Asp. All rights reserved
Bill Perry has a little something for everyone. If swing is your thing, he's got it. Like a little soul in your blues? No problem. If you want to get down and dirty with some raunchy slide, you can count on Perry. A Hendrix fan? He does that too. But don't for a minute think he's not original. In fact, most of the first set this night was gleaned from Perry's two CDs, 1995's "Love Scars" and last year's "Greycourt Lightning".

Joining Perry's band was Famous Dave's main man on piano, Tom Hunter. Tom has been entertaining the happy hour crowds at Famous Dave's on weekdays and has also been playing there on Monday nights with his new band featuring Tony Sims. He has lived in the twin cities for the past few years but hails from the same area in upstate New York as Perry and appeared on the "Greycourt Lightning" album. The reunion of the two this night was fun and playful: musicians who genuinely dig what they are doing and aren't afraid to let it show.

Bill Perry
Photo 1998 by Tom Asp. All rights reserved
They started out with "Lost in the Blues" and then slowed it down for "In Pain". Perry then started to demonstrate his versatility by playing the Robert Johnson/Elmore James slide classic, "Dust My Broom". Perry is a very good guitar player but songs like this one really prove what a great singer he is. His gutsy voice is full of grit and emotion, perfect for the blues.

After playing "The Other Night", the band did their funky version of "Blue Suede Shoes", where everyone had their turn at a solo. This wasn't the only song where Perry gave the reins to Hunter-and he let him have them for a long time. Hunter knows all the tricks and took most of them out of the bag on this solo. The first of three sets closed with "All Along the Watchtower". By this time Perry had played at least four different guitars.

Things got pretty crazy during the second and third sets. There were fewer originals and more covers and medleys. There was "Hand Jive" ... sort of, and "Hideaway" ... kind of. Hunter was again given a long rope on T-Bone's "Cold, Cold Feeling". My favorite song of the night was Perry's own "Boogie Blues" from the "Love Scars" album. Bassist Johnny B. Gayden, who played with Albert Collins, provides a great bass line on this hard-driving blues-rock tune.

Near the end of the show, Perry used a drumstick as a guitar pick, wildly batting at the strings with it and then flinging it into the crowd. I don't think he saw where it landed: on a table, not far from a young girl's head. Yikes!!!

Here's hoping you can make it out to see Bill Perry next time he passes through town. He's an energetic performer who gives it all he's got, and he's got a lot. Helmets suggested.

This review is copyright 1998 by Ann Wickstrom, all rights reserved.

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