The Curtis Winchester Band "Live!"

The Curtis Winchester Band

CD review by Roger-Z (9/30/05)

I've tried like crazy to get "The Curtis Winchester Band - Live!" CD out of my stereo. But it just won't leave. Recorded live at The Striped Bass in Tarrytown, NY on Halloween 2004, the band frightens with monstrous grooves and spirited performances. The players include Don Hurta (bass), Erik Perez (drums), Mark Reuter (harp, rhythm guitar), birthday boy Chris Vitarello (guitars, vocals), and Curtis Winchester (lead vocals). More funk than shuffle, the rhythm section functions as a trampoline that shoots Mark Reuter, Chris V, and Mr. Winchester to extreme heights.

These guys hooked me with the opening drum beat. The funk's so deep on "Come On Home," that I just can't get out. Some groups give you a great rhythm section, some a great singer, and some a great soloist. Rarely do you get it all in the same package. Watching Curtis sing live, you can't escape the goodtime vibes. When he snaps his fingers, shakes his head, and beams that 10,000 watt smile, anyone caught in the path must get up and dance. And watch out when the band breaks it down. Even the bass solo kills!

The band performs an absolutely stunning version of the old classic slow blues, "Must be Jelly." When Mr. Winchester extolls the joys of loving a fat woman, you feel like instantly logging on to "Must be jelly baby, because jam doesn't shake like that. I'm in love because my girl is so big and fat. I can't pick you up baby, so I sure can't put you down." Chris Vitarello's fingers caress his guitar the way Curtis' fingers must stroke his woman.

Other standouts include the funky "Phone Booth," the hilarious, rock-hard "Monkey Around," the "Mustang Sally"-like "Cross Cut Saw," the flat-tire beat of "Ain't That Snap," and the gut funk of "Put The Shoe On The Other Foot."

The Curtis Winchester Band, and Curtis Winchester in particular, casts a dazzling spell. And Chris V's magic guitar wraps it all up in an inescapable web. I have seen the future of the blues, and it IS "The Curtis Winchester Band."

2005 Roger-Z