From his long tenure with Little Charlie and the Nightcaps which became transformed into Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Rick Estrin has impressed blues fans with his songwriting, harmonica playing and his vocals (although to this listener’s ears, they can be an acquired taste). The present Nightcats is a solid band with Kid Andersen on guitar, Lorenzo Farrell on bass, organ and log, and J. Hansen on on drums and one lead vocal.
Recorded at Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco, "You Asked For It … Live," is an especially lively performance with plenty of Estrin’s wicked harp playing and Andersen shows off his chops and his considerable inventiveness. There are some new tracks and a few familiar classics my “My Next Ex-Wife,” “Dump That Chump” (admittedly not one of my favorites by him, and “Don’t Do It” which is a litany of his Doctor’s instructions that essentially have him avoid anything that might be fun. It is perhaps my favorite of his songs, but he certainly has a word with words like on “Smart On Einstein” which also sports some strong chromatic playing to go with his lyrics that he was “smart like Einstein and rich like Donald Trump.” This is one of the tracks that Farrell is on organ which contributes to the coloring under his solo along with Andersen’s chording and single note fills.
Drummer Hansen acquits himself as a singer and songwriter on a nice relaxed traditionally-rooted shuffle “Baker Man Blues” who has the sweetest job around as all the girls are talking about his bread and biscuits all over town with Estrin channeling Big Walter in his solo here. The CD closes on a nice cover of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s ‘Too Close Together” with Estrin backed only by Andersen on acoustic bass. It suggests some of the solo pieces the second Sonny Boy recorded in Europe and is a nice tribute to that legend.
Anyone who has heard Estrin on record or live will not be surprised by "You Asked For It … Live," and for those unfamiliar with him, this recording is an excellent introduction to him and his excellent band.
I received from Alligator. This review was written for jazz & Blues Report but I do not believe it has been published. Here is Rick Estrin and the Nightcats performing live.