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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Daryl Coutts Band at the Blue Bayou - 3/27/09

Daryl Coutts is one of my good friends and he often plays keyboards in my band. As an immensely talented musician, singer and keyboardist, he has several projects going on simultaneously. One of his projects is the Daryl Coutts Band, a blues/R&B/rock band that plays around the Chicago area. I trekked over to the north side of Chicago to the Blue Bayou (a New Orleans-themed joint across from the Music Box Theater on Southport) to catch his gig last night.

Daryl had his 88-key Nord keyboard, a big, red monster with lots of buttons and such on the console above the keys. He also had his Leslie speaker cranking last night, so the Nord could sound like a big ol' Hammond B3. This unit also has a clavinet feature, phlanges and lots of other bells and whistles. Daryl knows how to use all of them, but he also went with an unadorned piano sound on many tunes. Daryl will always choose to play an acoustic piano if he has a choice.

The band hit some of the classic Chicago blues standards (Killing Floor Blues, Feel So Bad, Shake Your Moneymaker, etc.) but also played some very tasty funk (Out-a-Space - a great instrumental). Daryl's band was full of killers and everyone was right in the pocket all night.

Scott Tipping was handling the guitar - this was my first chance to hear Scott play. He has lots of chops, but he doesn't over-play (most Chicago guitar players with technical prowess feel compelled to shred all night). I especially liked the way Scott threw in horn-like riffs behind Daryl's solos. This guitarist also adds an interesting visual dimension to the band - he is solidly-built, bearded and looks like he just stepped out of a tractor-trailer rig. Scott also has a great voice and sang several tunes.

Roger Femali was handling the percussion duties and his time was impeccable. He has mastered a broad range of beats and was tightly attuned to his bandmates - never stepped on anyone. Roger is also an interesting-looking person - shaved head, an earing in each ear - sort of a "Mr. Clean" persona.

Roberto Agosto plays a 5-string bass and can lay down some very tricky, yet tasty, bass lines. He really was impressive when the band shifted into funk mode. Roberto and Roger are joined at the hip - a terrifc rhythm section.

This is an outstanding band worthy of support. They had a very small crowd at the Blue Bayou last night - I was surprised. Wrigleyville/Lakeview is full of party people. I guess they are pinching pennies along with the rest of us in the crappy economy. The Blue Bayou is a nice venue, and they don't even charge a cover, so it seems like a pretty inexpensive entertainment option to me. Get out there and support your local musicians, folks!

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