Saturday, August 08, 2009

Big Daddy Stallings at the 219 Restaurant

Its been way too long since I had the pleasure of seeing Charles 'Big Daddy' Stallings and his band live, so when I got the word that he would be appearing in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia at the 219 Restaurant's Bayou Room, I made plans to attend and after fighting the brutal traffic on King Street I made it there just as they started playing.

Stallings has a fine band led by saxophonist Joe Thomas and includes Steve Levine, a harmonica player who has really developed over the years. I apologize for not having the names of the other players. Opening up with the Hugh Maskela classic 'Grazing in the Grass," the band opened with several soul instrumentals with the horn line of sax, trumpet and harmonica being very effective. Then a couple instrumentals featured Levine who channeled his inner Walter Horton, "Easy" and the Duke Ellington standard, "Don't Get Around No More."

The it was time for Big Daddy to get out of his chair and take the vocal mike opening with a pair of Louis Jordan numbers "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie," and "Caldonia," before tackling his own originals. Stallings has a down home vocal approach, yet is as much as home with a Jimmy Reed groove as when his band gets into a funk groove. His down home style helps invest such songs as his "4 X 4 Woman," with quite a bit of their charm as well as his lively "I've Got the Blues," set to a "Hootchie Kootchie Man" groove. Enlivening songs with his solos as well as some of Thomas, Levine and the excellent trumpet player, when they closed the set to Archie Bell's "Tighten Up," with the band getting introduced, it was quite an enjoyable set and well worth the drive.

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