Chris and the Nightcrawlers
Review by Pat
BLUE, released on Gusano Records, is the latest release
from one of Southern Californias premier West Coast
Swing bands known as Little Chris and the Nightcrawlers.
For those of you who arent familiar with West Coast
Swing blues, you need to understand that this is not
cryin in your beer blues.
This is toe-tappin, get up and dance music
that is a combination of Chicago blues, a little jazz
and a lot of swing.
This is good time music, done up California style
and inspired by the late George Harmonica Smith.
Chris Fast is a disciple of George Smith, and he
is more than capable of carrying the torch for the blues
There arent many harp players out there with the
confidence to have not one, but two saxophone players in
his band. Most
players would see this as a distraction from their own
Little Chris is not your run of the mill harp player.
Ive been a fan of Chris for a long time, and
Im always reminded of Eric Claptons description of
J.J. Cale: its not what he plays, it what he doesnt
play. To this writer, Chris Fast has always focused on his
incredible tone rather than trying to play every note at
lighting speednot that he cant, because there are
times on this recording when he is dazzling,.
But what is really impressive is his ability to
blend his harp playing with his band, saxophones and
takes a big man with a lot of humility to do that, and
in this respect, Chris Fast is anything but little.
Of course, having a band that can swing as hard as the
Nightcrawlers doesnt hurt.
These cats have been playing together for some
time, and they are as polished as a West Coast Swing
band can be. They
might not have a pretty blonde playing keyboard, but
believe me, there is nothing missing in this band.
Along with Alfredo Ballestros and Bud Dehl on
saxophones, the Nightcrawlers include Hank Barrios
exceptional guitar, Dennis Kenmore on drums and Fred
Rivera on bass. Fred
plays a busy bass and the only thing better than listening to him is to see
him live. He
holds his bass like no one else and has a great time
doing it that is entertaining and highly contagious.
There is a great mix of original songs by Chris Fast,
including World Lost Its Mind and Just Another
Bump and some classics like Al Duncans Too Late
Brother and Willie Dixons hilarious 29 Ways.
The twelfth track is an instrumental version of
Moanin Blues, which features on guitar the
author, Delaney Bramlett.
Unlike the rest of the tunes on this CD, this one
is as country as a sugar sandwich.
album is a barrel of fun, almost as fun as a night at
Steamers in Fullerton, California with Little Chris
and the Nightcrawlers.
You can check them out on the Net at: