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Eddy "the Chief" Clearwater
@ Famous Dave's, December 3 & 4, 1998
By Ann Wickstrom

Eddy Clearwater
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles.
All rights reserved
The Chief and his band rolled into Minneapolis for a two-night stand at Famous Dave's, and although the first night was fairly tame, the second show was one heck of a party.

This was the first major show since Famous Dave's started going "uncovered' (no cover charge). It didn't seem to have much of an effect on Thursday night - the crowd was pretty sparse - but Friday saw a full house and-guess what?- they stayed all night long! If you've been to quite a few shows at Famous Dave's, you know how rare that is (regardless of the performer). In this case, they even gave an encore! Could it be that the "Famous Dave's Phenomenon" is finally coming to an end??? I certainly hope so. Dave's is drawing the best acts in town and it has always baffled me that people usually leave by 11:00. I mean, are ya goin' out or aren't ya???

Johnny V and Eddy
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp.
All rights reserved
Eddy's band played a few songs before bringing him to the stage. Guitarist Johnny V, bassist Pat McKeever and drummer Lou Palmer ripped through a couple of instrumentals that took some really cool and freaky turns. Johnny V is a killer guitar player from Calgary, Alberta, Canada who toured with Eddy in 1986 and has recently re-joined his band. He knows Eddy's moves very well and complements The Chief perfectly, taking a no-nonsense approach to holding down the fort during Eddy's flamboyant displays of showmanship but tearing it up when it's his turn for a solo.

"The Chief"
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles.
All rights reserved
When you hear the Native American drum beat and guitar lick, you know it's time for The Chief to come on out, get in the saddle, and lead the people.

Eddy changes his colorful, trademark fringed shirts at least once during each show. During these shows we saw the yellow, black, orange and pink one, the red and black one, the blue and white one, and the shiny silver and purple one. There was also a variety of hats, and- of course-the feather headdress.

The band played four or five songs from Clearwater's great new CD, Cool Blues Walk. On Friday night, Eddy and Johnny even DID a cool blues walk across the stage together during the song of the same name. Other songs from the CD included "Bad Mamma Jamma", Freddie King's "Sen-Say-Shun", and "Very Good Condition", a really great tune that chronicles Eddy's experience with heart surgery two years ago.

When Eddy sings "I'm in very good condition, considering the shape I'm in", he's not kidding. This man is 64 years old and glides across the stage like a kid. He is the consummate entertainer, charming his fans as he looks them right in the eye, pointing and singling people out, and sometimes playing on the very edge of the stage. All of this is made even more dramatic because of his 6'4" frame. His style of guitar playing is all his own and is really a bit of a puzzle that can only be described as "different" (but as the commercial says, "Different is Good")! I saw a few guitar players with some quizzical looks on their faces as they watched him play some of the chords, which appeared to be his own creations.

Eddy also treated us to a few songs from his 96 release, Mean Case of the Blues, including "Send For Me", "Check Up On My Baby", and "Party at My House". And since there was a birthday in da house, we got to get in on the act too. We all sang Happy Birthday to Johnny V. He looked a little embarrassed but I think he was loving every minute of it.

Johnny V
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles.
All rights reserved
Famous Dave himself was at the show on Friday and I suspect he may have had something to do with the fact that resident pianist Tom Hunter got up and jammed on a few tunes. As always, Tom deftly handled everything the band was throwin' down. At one point, Eddy even walked over and leaned on the piano, just watching Tom and smiling.

Eddy likes to mix it up in his shows, playing a good share of covers along with some of his own classics like "Wouldn't Lay My Guitar Down". He served up a few Willie Dixon tunes ("I Just Want to Make Love to You", "Hootchie Cootchie Man") and did Jr. Wells' "Messin' With the Kid". He got as familiar as "Sweet Home Chicago" and as unusual as "Sleepwalk".

Let's hope it's not too long before he heads this way again and throws another party for us. You won't find a better host!

Read the review of Eddy's new CD.

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

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