Rick Estrin & The Nightcats

"This band is the best in the land...superior songwriting infused with wit, humor, and streetwise insights, traditional and adventurous grooves, impeccable musicianship, creative arrangements, harmonica tutorials and savvy production...funky and original...always fresh and vital." —Blues Music Magazine

"Rick Estrin & The Nightcats are a formidable force. They sound better than ever [playing] stellar rockabilly, jazz, blues and rock, often in the same song, creating a unique, time-tested sound rooted in the past, bolstered by harpist/vocalist Estrin's time-warping original compositions." —No Depression

"Estrin defines his own brand of hip. Original blues and vintage rock-style tunes also harbor his superb harmonica work. Estrin emotes with just the right mix of kitsch and sincerity. The current litter of 'Cats, including guitarist Kid Andersen, reigns as the best band anywhere." —DownBeat

"Rick Estrin & The Nightcats are America's greatest musical showmen...foot-stomping, wise-cracking contemporary songs, a combination of rockabilly, jazz, blues, rock, and big band swing. Estrin is a world class musician...the most colorful and entertaining showman around." —Forbes

Blues vocalist, harmonica master and songwriting legend Rick Estrin, leader of the musically fearless, wildly entertaining, award-winning band Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, doesn't like to talk much about his own musical superpowers. But ask him about the Nightcats—multi-instrumentalist/musical mastermind/producer Christoffer "Kid" Andersen, keyboardist/organ wizard/bass player Lorenzo Farrell and endlessly creative drummer Derrick "D'Mar" Martin—and he'll be happy to sing their praises. "This band is killer. I'm enjoying this all more than ever," says the man who's been performing and recording professionally since the early 1970s. "It's a blessing—there's so much energy, so much collaboration. The band is just so good right now. And the live show is better than ever." Living Blues calls Rick Estrin & The Nightcats "a terrific blues band with a real character for a front man," continuing, "Clever, well-crafted songs framed by first-flight musicianship...hugely entertaining, intelligently conceived and executed roots rock with a wickedly cool and otherworldly twist on tradition. Estrin's harp work is masterful."

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats' new album and the band's sixth release, The Hits Keep Coming, packs a powerful punch, with phenomenal musicianship and lyrics—both serious and humorous. Produced by Andersen at his legendary Greaseland USA studio in San Jose, California, the record captures the band's chemistry and magic in what is certainly among their strongest, most urgent and most cohesive releases so far. The Hits Keep Coming is modern blues at its most potent, intense and fun in all the right places, as Rick Estrin & The Nightcats deliver twelve groove-heavy, hard-hitting songs, including ten written or co-written by Estrin and two surprising covers (one obscurity from Muddy Waters, one from Leonard Cohen that Estrin would have liked to have written). From the foot-stomping opener Somewhere Else, to the harsh reality of the title track (with backing vocals by The Sons Of The Soul Revivers), to the musically infectious, lyrically harrowing song about addiction, The Circus Is Still In Town (The Monkey Song), The Hits Keep Coming is a lyrical and musical tour-de-force.

In addition to Estrin's celebrated songwriting and peerless blues harmonica playing, he and the band are among the most entertaining and colorful showmen around. Estrin's signature streetwise vocals and hipster-cool look, Andersen's eye-popping, off-the-cuff guitar pyrotechnics, Farrell's mighty organ, piano and bass work and D'Mar's dynamic, acrobatic drumming make every one of their live performances a must-see event. "People don't go out to see people who look like themselves," says Estrin. "They want to see something special. I was schooled in this business to be a showman, and that's what you get when you come to see us perform. We know how to put on a show. I feel sorry for anyone who has to follow us."

Estrin was schooled by some of the very best blues musicians on the West Coast. While still a teen, he was tutored by San Francisco's famed musician (and pimp) Fillmore Slim. He was mentored by San Francisco's legendary Rodger Collins and gigged with blues stars Lowell Fulson and Z.Z. Hill. Estrin moved to Chicago when he was 19 to work with Windy City bluesmen Johnny Young, Eddie Taylor, Sam Lay and John Littlejohn, and even jammed with Muddy Waters. He returned to California and continued to hone his craft. By the time he joined forces with jaw-dropping guitarist Little Charlie Baty and formed Little Charlie & The Nightcats in 1976—a band he would front for the next 30 years—Estrin was a seasoned performer with plenty of talent and a gift for writing killer original songs.

Upon Baty's retirement from touring in 2008, Estrin, together with Farrell (a Nightcat since 2003), recruited high-flying guitar wunderkind Christoffer "Kid" Andersen and formed Rick Estrin & The Nightcats. With Kid onboard, the band quickly became a worldwide favorite with blues fans as well as with critics and radio programmers. "Kid's fearless on the guitar," says Estrin. "He's really the only guy who could fit in with us." With an uninhibited style that perfectly meshed with Estrin's wildly imaginative songs, the new band charged out of the gate with Twisted in 2009, following up with One Wrong Turn in 2012, You Asked For It—Live! in 2014, Groovin' In Greaseland in 2016 and Contemporary in 2019. Each album is its own treasure chest full of memorable songs and white-hot playing. According to the UK's Blues & Rhythm, "Rick Estrin & The Nightcats have crafted an instantly identifiable sound. They serve up insightful, original blues combined with tough rock 'n' roll. This band is superb."

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats have performed at festivals and concert stages from San Francisco to Chicago to New York, and everywhere in between, and have toured the United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Poland, Australia, Israel and even Estonia and Russia. The band has twice won the coveted Blues Music Award for Band Of The Year. Additionally, Estrin has won Blues Music Awards for Song Of The Year, Traditional Male Blues Artist and for Instrumentalist—Harmonica.

The Chicago Sun-Times declares, "These are serious musicians having a hotter than hot good time. It's tough to stay in your seat when Estrin and his musical cohorts get cooking." As No Depression says, "This is a band that always delivers the goods."

Rick Estrin (harmonica, vocals)
Rick Estrin was born in San Francisco, California in 1949. As a 10-year-old boy, he made his way to the tough Market Street area and befriended many of the neighborhood's most notorious characters. When he was 12, his older sister gave him a copy of Ray Charles' The Genius Sings The Blues, and he became infatuated with blues and R&B. Albums from Jimmy Reed, Champion Jack Dupree, Mose Allison, Nina Simone and others soon followed. By the time he was a teenager, Estrin had immersed himself in the urban, African American culture surrounding him.

He got his first harmonica at age 15, and by age 18 was proficient enough to begin sitting in at Black clubs around the city. The great Lowell Fulson invited him to sit in at the Club Long Island, and that led Estrin to meeting and then opening shows for R&B giant Z.Z. Hill. Estrin worked five nights a week for almost a year with guitar legend Travis Phillips in a band fronted by famed pimp/bluesman Fillmore Slim (who was the centerpiece of the acclaimed Hughes Brothers documentary American Pimp). Slim introduced Estrin to San Francisco-based singer Rodger Collins (She's Looking Good), the man who would become Rick's first real musical mentor. Collins schooled Rick on the finer points of songwriting and show business. At 19, Estrin relocated to Chicago and worked with some of the city's best bluesmen. He met and jammed with the legendary Muddy Waters, who told Rick, "You outta sight, boy! You got that sound! You play like a man!" Muddy wanted Estrin to go on the road with him, but Estrin missed Muddy's phone call and it never happened. He eventually moved back to the Bay Area, met guitarist Charlie Baty and formed Little Charlie & The Nightcats. With Charlie's retirement from touring in 2008, Rick brought in guitar virtuoso Kid Andersen and formed Rick Estrin & The Nightcats.

Estrin cites Sonny Boy Williamson II, Mose Allison, Leiber & Stoller, Percy Mayfield and Detroit bluesman Baby Boy Warren as his major songwriting influences. His work on the reeds is deep in the tradition of harmonica masters Sonny Boy Williamson II, James Cotton and Little Walter Jacobs, while at the same time pushing that tradition forward with his innovative songs. And his sly and soulful vocals are the perfect vehicle for driving those songs home. According to DownBeat, "Rick Estrin sings and writes songs like the brightest wiseguy in all of bluesland and blows harmonica as if he learned at the knee of Little Walter."

Kid Andersen (guitar)
Christoffer "Kid" Andersen was born in Telemark, Norway. He became obsessed with the blues at age 12 and immersed himself in the music of greats like Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker and B.B., Albert and Freddie King. By the time he was 18, he had a steady gig in Oslo as a guitarist, backing American blues stars who came through Norway, including Homesick James, Nappy Brown and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. He moved to California as soon as he turned 21 and started touring with saxophonist Terry Hanck. Once in the U.S.A., Andersen earned a green card as an "Alien of Extraordinary Ability." He quickly became a musical force to be reckoned with, and he was invited by blues harp legend Charlie Musselwhite to join his band in 2004, touring with Musselwhite for four years. However, it was with the formation of Rick Estrin & The Nightcats in 2008 that Kid found his true musical home base. Kid has been nominated for the Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist—Guitar every year since 2013. In addition to being an expert multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion), Kid's talents as an engineer and producer keep his now-famous Greaseland Studio fully booked. Winner of the 2017 Keeping The Blues Alive Award, Greaseland has been featured on NPR, and has received multiple Grammy nods. At Greaseland, Kid has produced, engineered (and many times played on) albums by Elvin Bishop, Tommy Castro, John Primer, Nick Moss, Chris Cain, DK Harrell, John Nemeth, Wee Willie Walker and Finis Tasby, as well as all six Rick Estrin & The Nightcats releases.

Lorenzo Farrell (piano, organ, bass)
Lorenzo Farrell was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, where he started playing piano at age five. He picked up the acoustic upright bass during his high school years, and later became an in-demand blues and jazz bassist on the Northern California scene. Since joining the Nightcats in 2003, Lorenzo has returned to piano, as well as organ and synthesizer, showcasing the unusual technique, pioneered by greats like organist Jimmy Smith, of playing bass lines with one hand and traditional keyboard parts with the other. Lorenzo has also performed and recorded with many other artists, including Duke Robillard, Wee Willie Walker, Fillmore Slim, Alabama Mike, Finis Tasby, Jackie Payne, Terry Hanck and Little Charlie Baty's Organ Grinder Swing. Now based in the state of Washington, Lorenzo is a founding partner and artistic director of LTD Presents, a community arts organization whose mission is to bring world-class blues and jazz to the Pacific Northwest. According to Estrin, "Lorenzo has been an absolutely pivotal player in the Nightcats' development for over 20 years. His phenomenal keyboard work, not to mention his behind-the-scenes organizational skills, have really helped propel the band to new heights."

Derrick "D'Mar" Martin (drums)
Derrick "D'Mar" Martin is an unstoppable force of nature. D'Mar is a musician, producer, songwriter, singer, educator, entertainer and motivational speaker. He traveled the world for 17 years as the drummer for the legendary Little Richard. D'Mar also worked with a number of other artists including Dorothy Moore, Bobby Rush, Vasti Jackson, Ali Ollie Woodson (The Temptations), Big Jack Johnson, Carla Thomas, Billy Preston, Roy Gaines, Mitch Woods, Jackie Payne, Syl Johnson, Bob Margolin and Tutu Jones before joining the Nightcats. He shares his passion for music education in his own music lecture series entitled Drums & More when he's not bringing all of his many talents to The Nightcats. "Getting Derrick in the band was the final piece," says Estrin. He's relentlessly positive and his drumming brings us to another level."


Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - The Circus Is Still In Town Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - The Circus Is Still In Town
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - Contemporary Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - Contemporary
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - Dissed Again! Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - Dissed Again!
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - (I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise Rick Estrin & The Nightcats - (I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise