Arizona Acoustic Blues - MIM Music Theater - 8/13/2013
After intermission, Leon J and his polar opposite Nina Curri kicked off the second half of the show. Leon J isn't entirely bluster and bombast, but his bluesman affect can go a little too far. He's a great historian, revealing the background of his originals and adaptations of source material. All in all a powerful performer.
Nina Curri once again asked us to join whatever dream she is having on stage. What's most interesting about a Curri show, besides those soulful, soulful pipes, is her timing. She used the silence of MIM's auditorium to its full potential, drawing out segments of songs and allowing the wicked Dan Rutland to accent quirky pauses with jazz-inspired guitar solos. Not quite Thelonious Monk in their timing, but still fun to hear something that challenges the imagination of its audience.
Did you know Hans Olson owned the infamous Tempe Sun Club at one point? That's news to this reviewer for some reason. Olson and Chuck Hall closed the show as two old blues pros would, playing songs by Muddy Waters and Lightnin' Hopkins. Olson and Hall are the real deal. There's no question. Olson has earned that sad baritone, and, to mention another legend, his harmonica might rival that of all-time harp badass Little Walter. Just saying... Both in presentation and musicianship, these dudes capture the "calamitous loss," as Robert Crumb put it, that is at the heart of the blues -- heart that can't be faked.
Olson closed with his apropos original "Sun Club Jump," memorializing a specific time in his life and the life of Arizona music. A fitting, nostalgic end to an evening devoted to our state's best blues musicians.
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