This is one concert not to miss in a summer full of winners in Blues by the Dam, Garden Club Park by the Rogue River, Tuesdays 7 to 9 p.m. all summer. In a day and an age when every other band that comes along claims allegiance to the blues and souls giants of the 1950s and sixties, few groups can back up the talk with over 20 years on the circuit, laying down a finger sucking, deep fried, backbeat every night to the delight of fans throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe Not only have the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings been there and done that, they’re still doing it and it’s just getting better with age.
The former Mellow Fellows came out of Carbondale, Illinois in the early 1970s as the backup group for Larry “Big Twist” Nolan, a 300 pound blues singer, drawing on the great American soul tradition of Ray Charles, Little Milton, Hank Ballard and Junior Parker. Flying Fish released their first two records. Alligator followed up with two more, before Twist passed on in the great beyond in 1990. Another album followed, and today, the band, under a new name, is still working the circuit, playing their signature brand of straight ahead Chicago Blues, Memphis soul and swingin’ R & B.
Original band member, saxophonist Tery Ogolini, anchors the horn section, adding sinewy solos on classic songs like “Since I Fell for You.” Sly Stone veteran Don Tenuto on trumpet gives the high end punch to the band’s horn powered sound, while Dave Mick’s singing guitar solos silence even the most jaded blues aficionados. Bob Halaj on bass keeps the house in the groove pocket, guaranteeing a full dance floor whenever the band plays.
Topping it all off for the band’s studio work and select Chicago area gigs is the legendary Gene “Daddy G” Barge, songwriter, house producer at Chess Records, arranger on classic sides by Little Milton and Willie Dixon, and one time sideman with the Rolling Stones. The unofficial godfather of the band, Barge handles both lead and backup vocals live, and also weighs in on the songwriting and band arrangements.
Separately, these seven hard working guys have a million road tested tales, but together, the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings tell one great story every night through their uniquely American brand of music, a story of love and loss, pain and hope, loneliness, heartache, triumph and joy. It’s the raw material of live and no one knows it better. One listen is all it takes.