Wow. Another Monday night at Little Lou’s BBQ in Campbell, and I’m blown away by the blues talent.
Louisiana Music Hall of Famer Gregg Wright was filling in for the legendary Chris Cain, who was stuck on tour in Florida. Thanks Chris! I came for one beer and stayed for three. The audience at Little Lou’s was treated to a dose of footstomping, handclapping, headshaking blues/rock that you rarely hear outside of Austin, Texas, or maybe one of the grittier L.A. music clubs.
And guess what? No freaking cover. No cover charge for a guy who played lead guitar on Michael Jackson’s Victory tour? Get me another beer, I’m hearing things.
As a lefty, Wright plays his righty Strat upside down, just like Jimi Hendrix, and like Jimi he extracts some magic tones from it. He covered the gamut of guitar-based blues/rock from a crackling "Hoochie Coochie Man" to a soulful "People Get Ready." He merged SRV’s version of Hendrix’s "Little Wing" with Clapton’s vocal version. And I loved his "Red House" with a swing solo in the middle. Which then morphed into "Voodoo Chile." Which ended with a display of guitar acrobatics which had the crowd on their feet.
Wright had played the weekend at Antioch’s Delta Blues Festival and was looking to fill a Monday night, which is pretty tough, unless you live around Campbell. Little Lou’s has classy music every night of the week.
Oh, by the way, did you know that "Come Together" was a blues tune? Me neither. But in Wright’s artful hands, it could have been written by Muddy Waters rather than Lennon and McCartney.
Wright is a consummate frontman, but there were two other musicians on the stage Monday night who made up more than the sum of their parts. Roger Capps on bass guitar hails from the backwoods of Kentucky and plays a mean blues bass perfectly complementing his partner in crime on guitar. Capps knows a thing or two about the road. Remember '80s rocker Pat Benatar? He was her bassist for many years, with credits on a host of her hits including "Love Is A Battlefield." I asked him for some stories, but the only one he would give me was a one-liner "She told me she wasn’t married." ‘Nuff said, I guess.
On drums was the guy with the dreadlocks and the frogs’ legs D’Mar. D’Mar, short for Derek Martin and currently drumming for the legendary Little Richard, has a pair of beady eyes that put Marty Feldman (Igor in "Young Frankenstein") to shame. He locked his gaze onto guitarist Wright like he owed him money. A lot of money. Every move Wright made, D’Mar was there with him: quiet, loud, in the groove, in the funk. But he took endings to a whole new level. Not content with just bashing cymbals and twizzling sticks in the air, D’Mar finishes most high-energy songs with a frog-jump high in the air above his drums. I was afraid he would do himself a mischief. (See a video of such a jump.)
One of the great things about famous people is that they usually have famous, or at least talented friends. Gregg Wright was no exception. His old garage-band buddy Kevin Fisher just happened to be in town for a meeting, so Gregg asked him up on drums. In a previous life, Fisher toured with Charlie Rich, the Silver Fox himself, and although he has a regular job now, he had lost none of his skill on the sticks and skins. He played drums on a rocking version of the Spencer Davis Group’s "I’m A Man," and nearly brought the house down.
Gregg Wright has a number of accolades to his name. Louisiana Music Hall of Fame (he currently lives in L.A.), lead guitarist on Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour (Check out his "Beat It" solo at https://youtu.be/M4I7YU0TfBA), and solo performer with the Prague Philharmonic. I kid you not. He was asked to play with them on the soundtrack to the IMAX movie "Ocean Oasis," which turned out to be the largest grossing IMAX movie ever.
If you like SRV/Hendrix/Clapton and guitar-based blues/rock in general, you need to check out Gregg Wright, wherever he’s playing.
Email Tony Lacy-Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org