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Shadow of the Blues

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Album Review

Little Charlie & the Nightcats' seventh album for Alligator found the group at the top of its game, sharp songwriting combining with the expert playing of a group that has spent years on the road honing its craft. Rick Estrin's sleazy used-car-salesman-as-blues-singer persona comes shining through on his originals "Never Trust a Woman," "New Old Lady," and "Big and Fat," while Charlie Baty's guitar mastery is brought to the fore on the dazzling instrumental "Percolatin'." The title track is a great minor-key slow late-night piece, full of atmosphere and sporting great chromatic harp work from Estrin and a jazzy break from Baty. Down-home award-winner goes to the only cover on board, Arthur "Big Boy" Spires' "Murmur Low," which also features Estrin in the rare role of second guitarist. As always, the rhythm section of Ronnie James Weber on bass and June Core on drums provides swinging support throughout, and the addition on certain tracks of Jimmy Pugh on piano and organ is most welcome. The result is another solid album of modern-day blues served up by one of the genre's best working bands.


Formed: 1976 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

One of the hardest-working barroom blues bands on the West Coast, Little Charlie & the Nightcats started out in the mid-'70s, began recording around a decade later, and just kept on going strong. The two constants over the Nightcats' long history were co-founders Little Charlie Baty (guitar) and Rick Estrin (harmonica, lead vocals). Baty's biting licks were the perfect complement to Estrin's devil-may-care swagger and wryly humorous, storytelling lyrics, and that combo was enough to maintain a decades-long...
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Shadow of the Blues, Little Charlie & The Nightcats
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