Evidence recording artist Carl Weathersby, is a tough, yet soulful guitarist and a popular performer in the Chicago area. During the week in the Windy City, Weathersby can be regularly found at two of Chicago's better known blues clubs, Kingston Mines (Monday & Wednesday) and Buddy Guy's Legends (Sunday). Weathersby's work over the past twenty years includes stints as rhythm guitarist for the legendary Albert King and fifteen years as music director and lead guitarist for Billy Branch's Sons of Blues (SOBs). In 1997, after the release of Weathersby's second record for Evidence, "Looking Out My Window," Weathersby left the Sons of Blues to pursue his solo career on a full time basis.
Photo © 1999 Chuck Winans
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On Friday night, the Jackson, Mississippi born Weathersby performed the first show of a two night stand at Famous Dave's BBQ and Blues in Calhoun Square. Though the crowd was somewhat subdued for Dave's, Carl put his best foot forward for three sets of raw, biting blues. Backed by a three piece combo that included recent addition, Michael Hendricks on second guitar; Chucky Watts on drums; and Calvin Shipgaskin on bass, Weathersby did just about everything he could possibly do to light up the "fishing opener" depleted crowd. The show included multiple walks through the audience and dazzling guitar work via Carl's callused fingers and, several times, his teeth.
The songlist for the evening included numerous original tunes such as the title track from Weathersby's current Evidence CD, "Restless Feeling" and "The Blues Follow Me Around," a W.C. Handy Award nominee in 1996 when Weathersby was with the Sons of Blues. In 1996, Weathersby received a Handy Award nomination for "Best New Blues Artist." The show also included some nice covers, as exemplified by Johnny "Guitar" Watson's, "A Real Mutha Fa Ya" and John Hiatt's, "Feels Like Rain," a song made popular in the blues world by Buddy Guy. Weathersby, who kept referring to himself as "Levi Roosevelt Franklin Stubbs," told the audience that his record producer had to "twist his arm" to get him to record "Feels Like Rain," but he was glad that he was convinced. He followed with an extended version of the song that included some nice guitar and vocal harmonies by Weathersby and the band.
As it turned out, Weathersby topped his fine show on Friday when, reportedly, guitarist Deborah Coleman showed up on Saturday and did some serious jamming with Weathersby as a warmup to her Sunday show at the 5th Annual Heart & Soul Benefit at Bunker's in Minneapolis.
Weathersby is the consummate performer and bluesman who proved on Friday night that the size or demeanor of the audience cannot dampen the passion of the performer or the music. This is proof positive that a performance should always be based on the performer's show and not the size of the crowd. The quality of Weathersby's show certainly has me anxiously looking forward to his next visit to the Twin Cities, or my next visit to Chicago.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.