Kevin O'Day and Jack Cruz
October 09, 2005
BY JASON SONGE
Eating red beans for the first time after the hurricane is comparable to seeing Walter "Wolfman" Washington and His Chosen Few perform. In both cases, I know I'm gonna get somethin' down home. Washington, drummer Kevin O'Day, and bassist Jack Cruz served up backyard and dancehall blues smothered in funky grooves at Lounge Lizards Sunday night.
At the beginning of the concert, Washington said, "We're gonna jam tonight." O'Day was apprehensive as he began a handful of the songs, and O'Day is normally a prepared and professional sideman. So, for O'Day to be off his game, Washington must have really been shooting from the hip and throwing curveballs. In non-analagous and less confusing terms, Washington must have been playing material O'Day hadn't heard before. A jam, to be sure.
There were lyrics involved, but this night was about the music. Washington and O'Day took their fair share of solos. Man, Washington's guitar sounded so beautiful. His nimble note-by-note solos weren't about showing off. They were elemental and melodic affairs. Solos that warmed your heart, not dropped your jaw. And then O'Day, man. What a freak. There will always be something special about watching Johnny Vidacovich play the drums, but O'Day was the first New Orleans drummer to blow my mind(circa 1996 with Iris May Tango), so there will always be something about his style that feels like home. O'Day has a mountainous force as he rolls around the set, but he's no caveman. He's a chameleon that fits in as many notes as possible one second and then just lays back into the simple beat the next.
Speaking of the beat--wow. When O'Day locked in with Cruz and Washington on a groove, it was tighter than something very, very tight you can think of. There was such a heavy confidence and weight in the groove. At Space Camp, I rode in this oval machine that spun around and produced 3 G's of force. That's the same kind of force that Washington's group created. Something impenetrable. Something that succeeded as soon as it got started. A pounding certainty.
Approximately twenty people showed up for the show. Girls danced for the rowdier numbers, and a few couples danced for the slower ones. It was a fun night. Top shelf musicianship mixed with crowd-pleasing material.