Big Head Blues Club Live at The Belly Up – Concert Review

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Todd Park Mohr, lead singer and guitarist for Big Head Todd and the Monsters, opened the evening by himself with a slow, bluesy rendition of “America The Beautiful.” The song seemed to serve as a declaration for what was to come because Todd and company were not there to crank out the numerous hits that have propelled their career. Instead, they were touring in celebration of Robert Johnson’s 100th birthday as The Big Head Blues Club featuring Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, Hadden Sayers and Cedric Burnside. Robert Johnson was the pioneer of the American blues scene and Todd and company were obviously swayed by his contribution to the art form. So much so, that they recorded the album 100 years of Robert Johnson earlier this year and have been touring with different blues artists to support it.

The first guest of the evening was the harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite.  Musselwhite took the stage for a rollicking version of Johnson’s “Come On In My Kitchen.”  The blues legend stepped right in and filled out the blues standard as the band started tearing into it. With Charlie wailing and the band locked in you got a glimpse of how formidable this band is. It was obvious that you were watching an extremely tight band that is used to playing larger venues. After a few more blues numbers, they started mixing in a few of their hits, starting with “Please Don’t Tell Her” which brought out Cedric Burnside and his thick guitar sway. The next song “Groove Me” was a King Floyd number that picked up the pace as Todd laid down some nice slide guitar runs and keyboardist Jeremy Lawton’s organ started tasting the funk. The show kept up a good pace and was boosted even further when Ruthie Foster lent her soaring pipes to the Big Head Todd hit “It’s Alright.” It would have been nice to have had her out there for a few more numbers or for some of the encores. But as it turned out, none of the special guests came out for the encores. Overall though, it was a great chance to see a band (that usually plays arenas) play not only a sprinkling of their own hits, but relax into blues and honor the art form in style.

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