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Live Review
Walter "Wolfman" Washington
and the Roadmasters
@ The Cedar Cultural Centre, February 18, 1999
By Dave "Doc" Piltz
Walter Wolfman Washington
Feb. 18, 1999
Photo © 1999 Ray Stiles
All rights reserved
Walter "Wolfman" Washington and the Roadmasters left New Orleans at midnight on Fat Tuesday, driving straight through to make their appearance at the Cedar Cultural Centre on Thursday evening. With only a five hour rest stop during the trip, the band took the stage ready to play. It was a fine show at an ideal venue. The Cedar has a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere that allows the performers to make a "connection" with the audience. Additionally, for the music lover that doesn't always go for the late nights and/or the smokey bar scene, The Cedar offers early shows and a smoke-free environment.

Despite numerous changes in keyboard players and horns, the nucleus of the Roadmasters has been together for over ten years. With Walter "Wolfman" Washington on guitar; "Brother" Jack Cruz on bass; Tom Fitzpatrick on saxophone; and Wilbert "Junk Yard Dog" Arnold on drums; this core group was rounded out by newcomer, Luca Fredericksen on keyboards.

The Roadmasters broad range of musical skills was displayed by their varied play list of different styles including blues, jazz, funk, R&B, gospel and soul. During the evening, traces of Sly Stone, Ray Charles, T-Bone Walker and Johnny "Guitar" Watson could be heard in their music.

The band opened with an extended instrumental featuring all members of the band taking solos. This showcase definitely prepared listeners for the range of songs to follow from several of Washington's previous recordings including, Wolf Tracks, Out Of The Dark, Sada, and the latest album, Funk Is In The House.
Walter Wolfman Washington
Feb. 18, 1999
Photo © 1999 Ray Stiles
All rights reserved

Following the opening number was a song from Funk Is In The House entitled, "Please Come Back To Me." Nearly every song during the first set included solos by Washington, Tom Fitzpatrick and/or Luca Fredericksen, as well as strong rhythm backing by Jack Cruz and Wilbert Arnold. Some of my favorites during the first set were "Use Me Up," a song best remembered by Bill Withers; "Are You the Lady?;" "I Must Have Done Something Wrong," a song with a gospel feel; and "Chokin' Kind." "Chokin' Kind" is from the album Sada and included an excellent guitar solo from Washington, part played with his teeth as his pick.

After a short break, set two commenced with another extended instrumental that featured solos by Washington, Fitzpatrick and Fredericksen instead of the entire band. This was followed by one of my favorite songs from Out Of The Dark, "Feel So Bad" (Actually it is one of my favorites by anyone).

Other covers during the second set included "Mary Ann," with another T-Bone Walker-style guitar solo, and "Skintight." These two songs, as well as several of the other standards offered during the evening, distinctly demonstrated the fact that Washington is not afraid to take songs and make them "his own" through his unique arrangements. One of the best songs of the evening, "Save Your Love For Me," featured an exceptionally fine, creative guitar solo by Washington.

Despite the fact that everyone in the band had to be dead tired from the long drive from New Orleans, they still gave the audience an energy-filled performance that put everyone mentally back in "The Big Easy." The band enjoyed themselves and seemed to be having fun as they played, getting the crowd moving in and out of their seats and throwing Mardi Gras beads straight from Napoleon Street in New Orleans. All in all it turned out to be a wonderful New Orleans evening in Minneapolis at the Cedar Cultural Centre, thanks to the efforts of Walter "Wolfman Washington and the Roadmasters.

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

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