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Concert review: Chris Watson at The Wild Rooster

Chris Watson March 16 Wild Rooster 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth 817-332-9453 http://www.wildroosterbar.com http://chriswatsonband.com/

Posted 10:45am on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013

Even though I’m a blues fan, I’ll admit I’m hesitant to go see local blues acts. A lot of great blues players have come out of Texas: Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Larry Davis, Albert Collins, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, and Johnny Winter, to name a few. And there are still some great players out there, but after Stevie Ray Vaughan, it seemed like every time I went to a blues club, all we heard was some SRV wannabe doing a 45-minute, soulless solo – often with a funny hat.

But Chris “Silverfox” Watson isn’t one of those. Though I’ve seen him with other bands, I had heard he had put together a new band of his own, consisting of Chris Watson (guitar, vocals), Chris Hill (drums), Brian Miller (bass), Preston Lewis (sax) and Scott Morris (keyboard). And since they were playing at the Wild Rooster on Saturday, I tucked away my prejudices against Texas bar blues and headed out.

He won me over from the start. You can hear all kinds of influences in this mess, with some Stevie Wonder and even Little Walter in the vocals. Geographically, Texas blues combined with Motown and Chicago. I even heard a hint of Tom Scott in there, for a touch of jazziness.

“It all boils down the basics,” said Chris, “the soulfulness of the blues. Emoting through music. It’s an amalgamation of all those things.”

Much of the night was original music, with a few notable exceptions such as Living for the City by Stevie Wonder, Trouble of the World by Mahalia Jackson, and Eyesight to the Blind by Sonny Boy Williamson II.

But the originals were where things really took off. I played in blues bands for years, and there are so many songs that are so easy to cover, because you can just dig up a bunch of lyrics nobody has heard for 50 years and do your own take. So easy, that it’s rare to see someone doing so much that is new and original.

Chris has assembled a world-class rhythm section to back him up. Hill’s drum work was flawless and tasteful – even during a solo. Miller is an outstanding bassman, and the sax trading off with the guitar for leads gave us more of that Motown vibe.

I found Scott Morris to be particularly interesting, as he played keys like a blues keyboard player rather than someone who just picked up a digital piano because there were already too many guitars in the band. He knows how to play, and that is a rarity these days.

Chris Watson has toured all over in the past few years, including a stint in Europe where he is still getting airplay. Get out and see him locally while you still can.

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