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Live Review
Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang
@ The Blues Saloon, Feb. 13, 1999
By Dave "Doc" Piltz
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Valentine's weekend in the Twin Cities was an action-packed three days for local blues fans. On Saturday night, Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang went up against two very formidable "opponents," Mike Welch (Famous Dave's) and Roomful of Blues (Brew Baker's). Despite a small crowd at The Blues Saloon, Eddie Shaw and his band put on a "BIG" show.

Eddie Shaw has spent time as a sideman, arranger, band leader and club owner. Over the past 45 years, he has played with some of the biggest legends in Chicago blues; Howlin' Wolf, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Otis Rush and Willie Dixon, just to name a few. In fact, The Wolf Gang represents an extension of the Chicago tradition and Shaw's tribute to his mentor, Howlin' Wolf.

On Saturday night, The Wolf Gang included long time bassist, Lafayette "Shorty" Gilbert, Tim Taylor on drums, whose late father, Eddie Taylor, was one of Chicago's great blues guitarists and Eddie Shaw's son, Eddie Vaan Shaw, Jr., on guitar. The pedigree of the musicians was clearly demonstrated during the evening's performance.

The band played a mix of instrumentals and songs mostly featuring Shorty Gilbert or Eddie Shaw on vocals. Solos were split pretty evenly between the senior Shaw's powerful tenor sax and some fabulous guitar work by Eddie Vaan Shaw. For added effect, Eddie, Sr. periodically switched from the tenor saxophone to harmonica, displaying some especially nice harp on Elmore James', "The Sky Is Crying."

The instrumentals, such as Howlin' Wolf's, "Howlin' For My Darlin'" and Bobbie Gentry's, "Ode To Billie Jo" were especially entertaining because they allowed both Eddie and Vaan Shaw to stretch out on their respective instruments. As I mentioned earlier, Eddie Vaan Shaw is an exceptionally clean and lightning fast guitarist. The junior Shaw recently released a new solo CD entitled, The Trail Of Tears. All of the current members of The Wolf Gang appear on the CD and the band offered several songs off of The Trail of Tears as the night played on.

The music performed by Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang proved that they are the consummate musicians, giving their best effort to the small, but appreciative audience at The Blues Saloon. Shaw informed me that they will have a new CD coming out sometime this summer. Hopefully, he will be able to visit the Twin Cities to promote the new recording to an even bigger audience next time.

This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.

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