The Holiday Inn's Wednesday Night Blues Revue at Legends Bar & Grill in St. Cloud, Minnesota is definitely a cool option for people who love the blues, but who don't want to stay out too late on a weeknight/worknight. The music on Wednesday night starts at about 6:00 p.m. and is over by 10-10:30 p.m., making the evening possible for everyone, including blues fans from the Twin Cities who are willing to make the hour long trip to St. Cloud. On Wednesday night, April 7, I decided to take the drive for what I figured would be my best chance to catch the blues harp of Gary Primich. While Primich was appearing at Legends on Wednesday, he was not scheduled for a visit to the Twin Cities due to booking conflicts.
Photo © 1997 Tom Asp
All rights reserved
Gary Primich has been recognized as one of the finest harp players in the country today. His mixture of sounds ranging from Louisiana swamp blues, to Texas swing and on to Chicago-style blues, gives him an eclectic sound that will appeal to almost everyone. Born and raised in Northwestern Indiana (near Chicago) Primich's earliest influences included Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter and Big Walter Horton. Primich's early blues resume includes sitting in with a variety of blues bands in the Chicago area at an early age and a summer performing on historic Maxwell Street in the Windy City.
When Primich decided to relocate to Austin, Texas in the early 1980's, Chicago's loss resulted in a shining star in the landscape of Texas blues. To his credit, Primich has performed with a variety of blues bands in the Austin area, most recently serving as harp player and vocalist with Austin's legendary Omar & The Howlers. However, since The Howlers never stray too far from Austin these days, Primich has kept up his solo career to maintain his presence in the national spotlight.
For his early evening performance at Legends, Primich was backed by a fine group of Texas based musicians including Steve "Sarge" Kilmer on drums (formerly with Omar & The Howlers); Matteo Bosisio on guitar; and Randy "Tater" Glines on bass. Although the crowd was a bit on the tame side, Primich and the band smoked through three fine sets of Primich originals and some great cover tunes.
From the opening instrumental, Primich set the tone of the evening with some fantastic harp. Matteo Bosisio offered some nice boogie jump guitar on the opening song as well. This was followed by a song entitled, "Goodbye Little Girl," which sported an obvious Texas-blues sound. Primich peppered the evening with tunes from all of his recordings, but seemed to go particularly heavy on tunes from Mr. Freeze, Company Man, and his latest CD, Botheration.
A couple of the best spots in the first set included a song called "Hardwood Floor," from Botheration and a great instrumental, "Caravan," to end the first set. Other highlights from the evening included "Route 90" a great cover of a song by Clarence Garlow that featured some fine solos by Primich and Bosisio; "Think It Over," a slow blues with a country feel and some VERY expressive harp from Primich; and a hot number entitled, "I'm Your Hustler," featuring a story that intertwines concepts of love and pool. Additionally, Primich's cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's, "Mighty Long Time," included some Sonny Boy-style harp and even vocals that sounded like Williamson.
It was an evening of great music and amazing harp from Gary Primich. This was the first stop on the tour which is taking the band through Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and on to New York, before returning to Austin. Hopefully, in a return engagement, Primich will get the opportunity to thrill blues fans in the Twin Cities proper, although this was a good compromise all things considered.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.