Little Charlie & The Nightcats
Hard-swinging West Coast jump blues quartet, smokier and jazzier than ever. "Little Charlie absolutely sizzles on guitar--and is matched lick for lick by Estrin on vocals and harmonica"--CD REVIEW
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LITTLE CHARLIE BATY, Guitar
RICK ESTRIN, Harmonica and Vocals
DOBIE STRANGE, Drums
RONNIE JAMES WEBER, Bass
with JIMMY PUGH Keyboards
JOHN FIRMAN Tenor Sax on Hey Gold Digger, Me And My Big Mouth, and Gerontology
RUSTY ZINN Guitar on On The Loose and I'm Just Lucky That Way
Produced by LITTLE CHARLIE BATY and RICK ESTRIN
Recorded and mixed by TOM ANDERSON
Recorded at BAY VIEW STUDIOS, Richmond, CA
Additional recording at PRAIRIE SUN RECORDING, Cotati, CA
Mastered by JAY O'ROURKE at MONSTERDISC, Chicago, IL
Vocal production by DONNIE WOODRUFF
Cover design by MATT MINDE
Photos by KENT LACIN
SPECIAL THANKS to Larry Gosch; Skip Simmons; Joe Silisko; Flackman; Hohner, Inc.; Dick Gardner; Kevin's Harps; Steve Suda; Mooka Hajji Sabrie; Zenbu Guitars; Ernie Ball; Skip Simmons; Mark Hummel; and Enharmonik Studio
It's Saturday night on the planet Mars in the year 2045. At a blues club located somewhere underground, the album you hold in your hand is being played over the house system during intermission, the club DJ announcing it as 'classic Americana blues from the tail end of the 20th Century.' Old timers smile, remembering the band with that unique blend of styles that made them sound different than everything else back then.
Now as strange as this futuristic scenario might seem, I figure it this way; if any band deserves to have their stuff played on Mars between sets, it's Little Charlie & The Nightcats.
Words like "quirky," "interesting" and "unique" keep popping up whenever you gab to fellow blues mavens about them. Singer-front man Rick Estrin is both weirdo blues tunesmith and harp honkin' fool of no little repute, all the while cultivating a look sleazy enough to do any home shopping network host proud. Here's a guy who cackles like a maniac when he hears the third line of a blues verse if it's well written. He puts this knowledge to good use, tipping his musical derby in opposite, but cosmically linked, directions to the songwriting genius of both Leiber and Stoller and Baby Boy Warren. Little Charlie Baty is a true guitarist's guitarist; a combination of Charlie Christian, Lightnin' Hopkins and Joe Maphis all taking turns playing in Little Walter's band. With drummer Dobie Strange and bassist Ronnie James Weber driving it like crazy, you've got a band with depth, variety and a sense of humor. It's blues 'n' more with a nudge and a wink attached, and squares need not apply.
The boys produced themselves this time around, letting their creative impulses run wild with nifty enough results that listing the best songs is a complete waste of time. Some would say that these guys just might be hitting their stride. As for me, much as I enjoy this slab of the present, I look to the future with them; I bet it gets pretty nutty in those Martian blues clubs.
Cub Koda is a frequent contributor to Goldmine and CD Review.