Review : Rocky Athas Band

Posted on: Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Rocky Athas Band
The Harbourside Club, Liverpool
Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Texan guitarist Rocky Athas was a childhood friend of Stevie Ray Vaughan and had the distinction of being honoured by Buddy Magazine’s Texas Tornadoes as one of the ten best guitarists in Texas – two years before SRV was similarly lauded. As that accolade suggests, he is a phenomenal guitarist, and he has surrounded himself with top quality talent that fully complements his virtuosity, not least the classy vocals of Larry Samford.

The band’s performance is not for the faint-hearted, as was fully demonstrated by their delivery of three upbeat rockers to open the show. The slow blues, “Bluesville”, then gave Rocky Athas the stage for a fabulous solo before the original tempo was resumed with “Voodoo Man”, a terrific, bouncing Texas shuffle. The medium-paced rocker, “Tearing Me Up”, was beautifully underpinned by the excellent rhythm section of Guthrie Kennard on bass guitar and Bobby Baranowski on drums. A magnificent instrumental then led into “Road Fever”, co-written by Athas with Jim Gaines, before a visit to the Louisiana swamps with “Bayou Delta Blues” to end the first set.

The instrumental, “Rick’s Boogie”, brought the second set immediately to life with another display of prodigious fingering speed. After another Texas shuffle and “Miracle”, with its Hendrixesque guitar riffs, Guthrie Kennard delivered Mark Knofler-like vocals on the heavy rocking “Ain’t Enough”. The superb Larry Samford reclaimed the mic for the slow and bluesy “Nobody” and “No More”, the latter embellished by yet more great guitar work from the maestro. The marvellous performance was brought to its climax by two fast-flowing shuffles, followed by two loudly demanded encores.

“The best yet,” some of the punters were heard to declare at the end of the evening. Isn’t that what they said last time – and the time before that? The Stumble certainly has a tremendously high standard to maintain at The Harbourside when they appear in July, but I have no doubt whatsoever that they will not be found wanting.

Lionel Ross

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