James Cotton at Scullers

By A.J Wachtel
June 2015

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JAMES COTTON Sculler's Jazz Club 8:00 and 10:00 Sets Boston, MA 6/5/15 By A.J. Wachtel "SuperHarp" James Cotton came back to Freddie Taylor's cool club Sculler's: and played two packed house shows; that were tremendous on many levels. This legendary Grammy Award and Blues Music Award winner had a great time performing and the crowd was as equally into the moment as he was. He first told the audience he remembered playing his next tune with Waters at the Newport Jazz Festival in R.I.; in 1961. And then he did Muddy's "Got My Mojo Working". When he played the harp part to those words in a call and response manner: every single voice in the crowd loudly responded. And Cotton grinned as it happened. Local legends Mike Williams and Matt Stubbs (on break from touring with Charlie Musselwhite) dueled with each other in every song. It was great. And Cotton grinned when they went at it too. Darrell Nulisch, from Boston simply sang his heart out. Longtime Cotton bassist Noel Neal consistently provides the low end while Jerry "Bam Bam" Porter,on drums, keeps the solid beat. Rhythm sections just don't get any better than this folks. At one point, everyone onstage quiets down except for the steady drums while Neal plays his four strings like he's Jimi Hendrix; and the crowd goes nuts. Cotton is in town promoting his latest release "Cotton Mouth Man" and he played the CD's "Blow Wind Blow" and "Midnight Train". But listen to these other songs on his set list: Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do", Freddie King's "San Ho Zay", Ike Turner's rocking "Rocket 88" and he opened each show with an Albert Collins instrumental; and he closed both sets with his signature song "The Creeper". Peter Wolf came onstage in the second show and told the audience how he met Cotton before joining the band for a tune. Annie Raines came up and played harp for "Got To Fly" too. Dan Rabinowitz, who was in both Son Seals and Solomon Burke's bands, screamed on trumpet all night; and added a great brass touch to the sound. Blues DJ Holly Harris did a great job m.c.ing the show, and the house was crowded with notable musicians from all over New England; who had come to hear SuperHarp wail. They included: Rosy Rosenblatt (Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers), Jim Fitting (Treat Her Right, Morphine), Jo Neary, the President of the Boston Blues Society, Gary Bernath, the host of Boston's House of Blues monthly jam, Jim Carty, Jesse Dee, photographer extraordinaire Barry Miller and Noah Schaffer. Hanging out with Peter Wolf was J.Geils guitarist Duke Levine. A stunning night of classic Chicago Blues and Shuffles by the Greatest Blues Harp Player Alive; it can't get any better than that.

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