May 20, 2004

Walter "Wolfman" Washington lived up to his nickname. When he opened his mouth unusually wide to let out a falsetto scream, it was a powerful thing to hear. When his distinct combination of blues and funk got him rollin', he started rockin' back and forth violently like the music was making him, not the other way around.

At d.b.a. Tuesday night, Washington said his trio was gonna give the crowd "funk." No doubt. Drummer Wilbert Arnold kept a solid beat while adding some notes to give the music jumpin' color. Bassist Jack Cruz kept a delicious groove going, and he was the most reliable player throughout the set. When Washington wanted to boogie, I saw it in his body, and I heard it in his voice. His soulful delivery filled the dancefloor for the last couple of songs in the set. Still, if you listen to Washinton's guitar tone, you'll remember one thing: he's a blues man.

He had a piercing, lyrical note selection. His few, and beautiful, instrumental numbers were full of hooks and progressions that had studied repetitions. His knack for songwriting and compassion towards the human ear came from practice.

I reveled in the lament that was Washington's guitar playing, but I also had more fun and confidence tapping my foot hard than I've had at any other concert. These guys were groovin', and they were "super bad."* When the music got too good and I wanted to "jump back and kiss myself," I felt a James Brown kind of yelp coming on. This was some good soul music, too.

Washington was cordial, and the crowd was appreciative. A great set.

*All quotations herein were taken from James Brown, without his permission. If it makes him feel any better, none of his bathrooms were used in the writing of this review.

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