Chalk up another great show at the Tin Pan in Henrico County’s West End as the legendary Alligator Recording Artists, Roomful Of Blues swaggered in and proceeded to blow the room apart for 90 non-stop minutes.
Through various line-ups, Roomful Of Blues has been a major player on the blues scene for almost 50 years and they show no sign of slowing down. Their horn driven music plays heavily into the jump swing boogie style of blues theatre and Phil Pemberton’s vocal stylings drove the show to the point where a few intrepid souls stood and danced in the aisles or beside their chairs.
This caused on blues superfan to exclaim, “They should insist on a few less tables and an actual dance floor. This place would go nuts!” I can’t say I disagree with him. From the opening bars of their intro song, Porky’s Blues, the crowd was heavily into the show.
From there they moved into It All Went Down the Drain and All Right Okay You Win with hardly a hiccup in between. These fast paced numbers were driving the crown into a frenzy.
Roomful is noted for its extended breaks, not only from Chris Vachon on guitar, but also more than a few from the horn section consisting of Rich Lataille on tenor and alto sax, Mark Earley on baritone and tenor sax, and Doug Woolverton on trumpet. Not to be outdone, keyboardist Rusty Scott traded licks with Vachon on several songs, and even the rhythm section of John Turner on upright and electric bass and Chris Rivelli on drums got in a few extended leads.
In the approximately 16 songs plus two very extended sessions – one for guitar and another for the horns – Roomful had several highlights including Easy Baby, Boogie Woogie Country Girl (love that song from Doc Pomus that Big Joe Turner shouted), Too Much Boogie and of course Keep On Rockin’.
In fact, one of the signature drinks for the evening was the Keep On Rockin’ and I’m not sure what the bartender put in it, but it certainly made Pemberton happy…
After that, the band continued with Baby I’m Gone and My Baby Quit Me before launching in to an all-out assault on Body And Fender Man.
It seemed like 90 minutes flew by and the crowd was on its collective feet joining the band in singing a rousing version of New Orleans.
It was an amazing night being surrounded by old friends in the audience and seeing a band that’s long been on my bucket list to catch live. The last time Roomful Of Blues played through Richmond it was in a tiny club on the north side that had a postage size area for the band and they crammed in more seats than humanly possible.
I couldn’t even get in the joint.
So now, these few years later, a mere blip in time for a band approaching 50 years in existence, that establishment is sadly closed (I miss every club that once offered live music), and another chance to catch them in a great club.
Roomful Of Blues did not disappoint and I’m already thinking ahead to next time.