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The Blue Plate Lounge
Weekly Music Newsletter
May 13, 2002
Volume 1, Issue 22
FRIDAY NITE LIVE @ The B P U
May 10, 2002
We witnessed a little of the legendary Wildcats mystique here at The University this past Friday night. The people came, the people danced and the people howled!
We were a little nervous when by 8:30 PM we hadn't seen the now familiar white van pull up to the door yet. We knew that when it did, the next thing we would hear would be a power screw driver dismantling the doorway, heavy components rumbling by on casters and warnings to "watch your back!" Donny Lavin would be hauling in the old Hammond B3 organ in about 4 large pieces. Jeff Adams, Bobby Tula and Smiling Steve would be briefly grunting and straining with the speakers, amps, drums and crates of microphones, cables and assorted stage gear as they scurried about trying to make up lost time. Then suddenly someone said, "They're here!"
Jeff was all business in a ball cap! We've never seen him in anything but a fedora but it was time to work up a lather, getting the show in gear. Moments later we spotted Fay by the door, smiling and happy to be in a friendly place. Fans and friends tossed greetings and salutations to her and the 'Cats as the band quickly got everything ready. It was clear that everyone expected something special to happen. It did.
Fay took the lead on the vocals for the first few numbers starting with
Show Me, slipping right into Don't Burn The Bridge and getting right sexy with
Sugar Coated Love. Next, Jeff delivered up one he penned himself,
I Must Be Crazy, where he began to show his guitar mastery with some very bluesy fret work. His clear voice was complimented by Fay's harmony and the supporting band output seemed to make the whole effort look natural and easy. By now we had some itchy feet in the crowd and the dance floor began to fill up. Fay belted out her very own
Tell Mama in her very hot style, gutsy yet sweet.
The set continued with a rhumba/rock number called Kokomo and another catchy dance number called
Snatchin' It Back. All the while Smiling Steve seemed at his strikingly stellar best on the bottom work while Donny Lavin used the B3 to crank us up higher and higher. Then Fay dropped down a couple of gears and gave us the slow dance we were waiting for with
World Gone Crazy. She introduced the next number as "Albert Collins meets The Beatles" although Carol King is the one who actually deserves the writer's kudos for
Chains. To close out the set the 'Cats ripped out their theme song,
Wildcat, bringing us to a break period.
To start the second set, Jeff introduced Kathy, the former Mrs. Jeff Adams, who sang
My Man. Then Fay took over with Shake Your Money Maker, followed by Jeff singing
One Too Many Women, originally done by Kinsey Report. What we heard next was a Steven Stills hit that Fay delivered with feeling,
Long Time Gone. It's a bleak viewpoint of the turbulent sixties that Crosby, Stills and Nash produced d ring the Viet Nam war.
The set continued with What's Good for You is Bad, I Love to Party and
It Don't Mean a Thing, which saw the dancers moving again in all corners of the room. We got another slow dance in
The Land That Time Forgot and then hopped to it in boogie time with the old forties R&B standard,
It Ain't the Meat. Then Fay funkily [sic] promised, I'll Take You
There, a much more recent Motown R&B tune from the sixties. Lavin kicked butt while Tula hammered home the beat and Smiling Steve just played and smiled! Everyone was hot on this tune, making it a number that they definitely could sign their names to. Three more blues standards were offered,
Stormy Monday, 'Til The Well Runs Dry and By The Light of
Day. Another tip of the hat to Motown was forthcoming when the 'Cats next performed
Let Me Change My Mind. We asked for and received Jeff's version of the Hendrix hit redone by Vaughn,
Little Wing. This effort by the 'Cats drew just about the heaviest applause of the evening. Then we heard three more dance tunes to close out the evening,
Mustang Sally, Hello Little Boy and Son of a Preacher
Man. The fans cried for more but being that the BPU has a one o'clock license, we sadly called it a night.
Tonight the Wildcats showed us all the details both large and small that make them one of the best party and dance bands in this part of New England. We really loved it and was apparent that the 'Cats loved it, too! We look forward to additional shows by them in the coming fall season.
The Blue Plate Weekly Music Newsletter
March 4, 2002
Volume 1 Issue 11
THE WEEK IN REVIEW/March is Blues Month!
Friday Nite Live @ The BPU with The WILDCATS
It's hard to go into someone's place the day a favorite son has been put to rest and inspire people to dance. Fay & Jeff Adams and crew are inspirational. Playing a mix of contemporary, classic and original blues and R & B hits, Jeff picked and Fay crooned their way through a medley of great tunes. It was not long before the dance floor began to fill up. Belting out
Tell Mama and then slipping into It's the Motion, Fay lead the band through the first set with her sweet and sensuous vocals, taking a break after the R & B hit,
I Know a Place. Donny Lavin's command of his Hammond organ really gave this tune a classic funky Motown kick.
After a sexy WILDCATS version of Al Green's Let's Stay Together, Jeff took us through a moving rendition of the Jimi Hendrix masterpiece,
Little Wing. He dedicated the song to long time friend and fan, Dennis Peppin, who was present in the audience. Adams was keenly into the licks when we observed the awe on our Hendrix fans' faces. Of course, the Stevie Ray fans are one and the same but we all know the difference between an acorn and an oak!
Fay and Jeff combined on the lyrics in that great R & B/MOTOWN hit, Let's Get It
On, and then Fay skipped the show along with Hello Little Boy,
Do You Remember Me? (Oooo eee , baybee!)
Returning for the third set, The Wildcats ripped their way through an original instrumental and a few vocals before really getting our attention with Steven Stills'
Long Time Coming, reestablishing in many of our minds the dominant roles both blues and rock have in influencing popular music today.
Fay bopped us through, He Treats Your Daughter Mean and then the 'Cats closed with their signature tune,
Wildcat! The fans were contented with an encore of original tune, King
All in all a fabulous show and we are all hoping the 'Cats will come back again soon. They will always be welcome!
The Wildcats Get "Blue In the Face" with Their Debut CD
The Wildcats, a group from central Mass., has proven it can play and stay with the best of the blues scene. With the addition of 'Honest' Ed Barry on drums, who also fronts his own band, bassist Mike Slaney, a working clown in a previous life and B-3 player Don Lavin, the 'Cats are have made the transition from being a local band to being a fine regional band.
With their debut CD, "Blue In The Face," The Wildcats show that they are seriously committed to the music and the traditions.
Mixing originals by founding member, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Fay Shugrue, some not-so-well-known chestnuts from Doc Pomus and Janis Joplin, and a few classics, the quality is there in every one.
To illustrate the musical maturity and their willingness to take changes, The Wildcats cover Miles Davis "All Blues," in one of the most satisfying renditions that you'll ever hear. The jazz side segues into a slow blues progression that allows plenty of breathing room. Lead guitarist Jeff Adams does the honors on vocals, but I can picture a softer shading, possibly in duet, because the song has such an airy and light persona.
Listen to the interplay between the musicians and you'll understand that this group has more than usual talent.
Getting down and getting inside to the business of the blues is The Wildcats strong suit. In "When Will I Be Satisfied," Shugrue is the high priestess, emotionally twisting and turning the song with a gut-wrenching exorcism. For the fun stuff, the original "King Bee" alternates its phrasings, becoming sweet yet nasty and the classic, "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean," is a strong closer and one of the best reasons why you'd want to see these 'Cats in person.
Holding it all together is drummer Barry, a karate expert when he's not behind the kit. His disciplined, maniacal prowess on "Snatchin' It Back" drives his mates to keep up with him, which gets their collective adrenaline pumping.
The Wildcats version of "I Don't Want No Man," The Don Robey song most recently done by Debbie Davies, sinks deeper into the blues depths with a nice B-3 solo and background accents by Lavin.
Lavin again shines on "One Good Man" without going out of bounds, again, a sign of a mature, confident band. The same can be said of bassist Slaney. The grooves are there without being overstated.
In 1995, Adams said the group "is all about heart." That statement certainly holds true today - and you might want to add the words "and talent" to the end of that sentence.
England Blues Society
February 2 - 8, 2001
Blues in your face
Some bands can never duplicate in a live setting the sound they get in the studio, while others need audience interaction to fully deliver the goods. Somewhere in-between sits the Wildcats, who've just released their second full-length CD, Live at Gilrein's!, which captures them last November at Worcester's Home of the Blues.
When vocalist Fay Shugrue sings, "I thought I had exemption from the misery of love" on "Wildcat," there's little doubt she's singing to partner and guitarist Jeff Adams. The challenge, when she sings, "Now here I am, my heart is beating strong/Prove me baby that everything I thought is wrong," is not to entice him, but her audience. Judging by their growing performance schedule, Wildcat fever is spreading.
Bassist Steve Stavropoulos, a recent recruit to the band's line-up who's been playing in area club since the early 1970's, says Shugrue's and Adams's devotion to their music is contagious, "Fay and Jeff share a love for the blues and a love for playing music, and I see nothing by an unstoppable perseverance and vision to keep going through the difficulties of being in a band, to carry their love and style of music to the public."
The group's first release, 1998's Blue in the Face, was a mixed bag that showed great potential. It too was recorded live during a radio broadcast at WJUL in Lowell; however, it didn't have the support of a live audience prodding Adams to squeeze out an extra note of heaven from his guitar.
"The live show is in many ways truer to the blues - so we feel good about capturing that," says Shugrue. "We have a new rhythm section since Blue in the Face. We've added Steve on bass and backup vocals and Bob Tula on drums. We can't say enough about their talent - Steve is steeped in the blues; Bob has the back-beat, power and energy. They are definitely just what The Wildcats needed - groovier grooves and bluesier blues." Organist Donny Lavin, who previously wheeled his Hammond B-3 to shows with Tumbleweed, rounds out the quintet.
On "All for Me," Shugrue sings, "You've got the shake that makes me bake." In a music famous for its use of slang in describing the joys of sexual attraction, you'd think that every possible hidden pseudonym for being attracted, engaged with, or over someone has been used the Wildcats manage to make their love sound fresh. "As a songwriter, I don't worry about or care whether a love story has been said before," Shugrue says. "If I'm true to myself lyrically and musically, then my own individuality will inevitably come through. No two people have exactly the same experience; there are new eyes to see through. Each person's heart feels its own individual, and therefore, original way."
While Adams may be her number one fan, you could call Stavropoulos the Fay Shugrue Fan Club's president. "She has a powerful voice that cuts through, and a sassy, catchy spirit in her songwriting that is original and so infectious. I find myself singing her stuff all week, every time she brings out a new tune, it's my favorite for weeks to come."
On the Kinsey Report's "One Too Many Women," Adams sounds like the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir when he sings, "They keep me coming and going 'round in circles with the blues." And, you can feel the lights go down at the start of "I Must Be Crazy," which the guitarist, who sharpened his playing skills with Dennis Brennan, Al Valentino, and the Dirty Rye Band, wrote and sings. You can tell that he and Fay have spent many late night hours listening to the blues. "Our favorite things to put on the CD player usually fall into the roots - R & B roots - blues categories from Doo Wop to Etta James, Wynonie Harris, to Albert Collins, we love and listen to all of the greats. And we thrill to discovering unknown, yet great B-sides and 'lost artists' as well. If you ever get a chance to listen to Skippy White's [Friday night] Roots of Rhythm and Blues show on WUMN [91.9FM] from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. - that pretty much sums it up."
The Wildcats play John Stone's Inn in Ashland this Friday. They open for Mighty Sam McClain at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley on February 10, and return to Gilrein's on March 9. For now, the best way to purchase a copy of Live at Gilreins! Is at a live show or via their web site at wildcatblues.com
July 9, 1999, Section Two
FRIDAY - Bands tackling the blues have a tough chore - it's almost all been done before, and the genre's manic fans have every note memorized. The Wildcats (pictured), who came on the scene three years ago, suffered some serious growing pains, but their perseverance and rapid improvement have won over most of the skeptics. Blue in the Face (Cool Guy Music), their debut 14-track CD, was recorded live at Lowell's WJUL. Highlights include Don Pomus's "I've Got That Feeling" (Faye Shugrue's vocals can leave a room standing in its tracks) and original composition "All for Me," the kind of cozy blues song babies are made to. Guitarist Jeff Adams nails Otis Rush's "Keep on Loving Me," and the band's signature tune, "Wildcat," hints that a full-fledged studio recording could catapult them to great things. Tonight, they're at Gilrein's, 802 Main Street, Worcester. Admission is $5. Call (508)791-2583