The Boston Blues Society heats up February with three jam-packed shows

By Karen Nugent and Dan Sevush
March 2010

February began and ended with three unique and unusual Boston Blues Society-sponsored shows, featuring the increasingly popular North Mississippi hill country sound and the son of a blues legend.

First we went west, to Gilrein’s in Worcester, on February 6 to see Kent Burnside and the New Generation. Kent, grandson of R.L., has the same raw sound, with a modern twist, and a hint of rap, soul, and even disco. Burnside, who hails from Mississippi but lives in Iowa, was smoking on guitar and vocals, as was guitarist Gabe Meyers. Jacob Best on drums and Emmett Butts on bass provided a slammin’ backbeat, especially Best. The house was nearly full. The same bands packed Gilrein’s in November, and will be back there on April 1. (No foolin!)

The month ended with two sold-out shows in Greater Boston. Mississippi legend T-Model Ford, 89, made a rare appearance up north to rave reviews and an absolutely jammed, sweaty, dancing throng Feb. 25 at PA’s Lounge in Somerville. The crowd was nearly all on the young side (for a blues show,) and this hill country sound seems to hold a magical attraction for the younger generation. One young woman, in tears, told me the show was a “life changing experience.” (I remember the feeling—only it was upon hearing Little Walter for the first time!)

T-Model delighted the audience by sitting amongst the masses the entire night, chatting up the ladies, even dancing a bit. He was truly appreciative of his roaring popularity, and promised to return. He played for hours, backed by only a drummer. It was a real night to remember.

The night opened with a set by the lovely Erin Harpe on guitar and vocals. Both the T-Model and Burnside shows were opened with our pals, the Ten Foot Polecats, a Boston band that has adapted the style—mixed with a bit of punk—to great accolades.

It was standing room only to close out the month at Smoken' Joe's BBQ on Feburary 26 as Chris Beard made his first appearance this year in Massachusetts. The son of Joe Beard, Chris learned the basics from dad, adding his own flair as a showman. Watching Chris strut through the packed room, suggestively playing his guitar to the female audience members and then walking outside (thanks to wireless technology) parading around Brighton Center, it occurred to me that Chris is clearly “not from around here”— and that's a good thing. His five-piece band was tight, perhaps a bit tighter than usual on the tiny “stage” at Smoken' Joe's, conveniently located between the kitchen and restroom doors.

Barrett Anderson and friends (Rosy Rosenblatt on harmonica, Per Hanson on drums and “Washtub” Robbie Phillips on.. you guessed) started off the night with some great slide work.

We look forward to mixing it up again with more shows later this year. These shows were wildly successful in large part because of the participation of blues fans like you, and we need your support to continue. Keep showing up. Become a member of the blues society. Support local music.

<- back to Features