Roscoe Chenier – at the Ain’t Nothin’ But Bar, Soho, London, 17th October 2002
Like so many visiting American blues acts, Roscoe was booked for three nights (Thursday through to Saturday) and I chose to attend on the first night gig for the simple reason that it presents the only possible opportunity not only to see but to hear in this tiny bar. Beer in hand, I claimed a spot near the middle and barely ventured. The threepiece of lead guitar, bass and drums hit the minute band stand around 9:45pm. “Subtle” is how I would describe this outfit from Düsseldorf and they remained that way throughout the proceedings. No flashy guitar licks and no showing off. Equally, while backing Roscoe they remained restrained and respectful. They ran through ‘T-Bone Shuffle’, their own ‘Sidetrack’ (I think) and finally my main blues man Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Do The Doo’.
Soon Roscoe was making his way through the throng, delightedly holding his guitar above his head, a big man for sure. How many Roscoes would it take to fill the Ain’t Nothin’ But bar? Sensible answers on a postcard please.
He looked good, sounding confident, opening up with ‘Hole In The Wall’ – very apt Roscoe, my sentiments entirely – before taking us on a trip down deep into Louisiana with ‘Raining In My Heart’. Nice feel, Roscoe! So far, very good. He visited Alvin Robinson’s back catalogue with ‘Something You Got Baby’. Good choice of material, along with being one of my two personal favourites of the set, the other being his own ‘Like My Daddy Did’.
Then we got a crowd pleaser in ‘Hoochie-Coochie Man’ – of course, the place was by now filling up with the usual type who annoyingly hang out here – before allowing himself to broaden out with another of his own numbers ‘I Miss You So’. ‘Stick To You Baby’ was done Louisiana shuffle style and he closed his first set with ‘Don’t Look Now, I Got The Blues’. This is the second time I have caught Roscoe, the other being during our annual pilgrimage to Utrecht, Holland. The best blues festival in the world? Well, I ain’t found nothin’ to beat it yet. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for any more sets – sorry, too late a finish, have to work tomorrow – but I came away very satisfied.
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