It seems I'd been waiting a lifetime for Ronnie to come back to the twin cities. In reality, it was about ten years since his last appearance here (at the Blues Saloon). Kudos to Brewbaker's for bringing this guitar hero back to town. It was worth the wait.
Inside Straight opened up the show with a lively set that included some great blues classics such as "Every Day I Have the Blues," Walkin' the Dog," and "Let the Good Times Roll," featuring some nice slide guitar work by Pete Meyer.
When Earl took the stage, long-time fans noticed right away that he had Little Anthony Gerace with him on keys and Michael "Mudcat" Ward on bass. What a pleasant surprise to see these two "Broadcasters" from Earl's mid-80's era! Berkley School of Music graduate and percussion instructor Mark Greenberg was on drums. Mark is just thirty years old (but looks to be about twenty)! All three members of Earl's entourage (no vocals) were just top-drawer musicians.
One of the highlights of the show for me was Freddie King's "San-Ho-Zay." Ronnie injected a little bit of "Fever" into it as well as some licks from another King composition, "Funnybone." Also, Magic Sam's "Blues for the West Side" was a stand-out.
Little Anthony really radiated on a couple of tunes he did while flying solo: "Anthony's Boogie" and "Jason's Lament," just a great, unique and incredibly cool song he wrote for his son. I've never heard anything like it before and I sure hope he records it!
One of the most impressive things about this band is the way they can be burning at top speed and suddenly come to a dead stop, so quickly, with barely a hint of a nod from Ronnie. These guys are true professionals. The height of sheer guitar-playing perfection had to be when Ronnie stood at the edge of the right-hand side of the stage and displayed his beautiful, delicate, feathery touch on "Thank You Mr. T-Bone." Earl's tribute to Walker gave me goose bumps from head to toe. Can you say SMOOTH? It was a thing of beauty. Thank you, Mr. Earl.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Ann Wickstrom, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.