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Bill Lupkin & the Blues Coalition
Live at the Alamo, Springfield IL   January 21, 2008

Performance review by Ben Cox 
Photos by Bob Kieser

While it was blowing snow on a cold, blustery night in the capital city, inside some new blood and some old mixed together and fueled a good blues fire for everyone to keep warm. Bill Lupkin, the journeyman harmonica player of Nick Moss’ Blue Bella label made a stop over to the little hideaway at the Alamo, where since his return to regular touring has made this little place a second home.

Normally, Bill would bring along a few special guests for the trip, and one of them is usually Nick Moss his label boss. However, on the strength of his own record with the Flip Tops, Nick has been a little engaged with non-stop touring in support of one of his biggest records to date. With most Lupkin fans expecting an equally-complementing guitar to Lupkin’s lush harmonica pyrotechnics along with the solid backbeat of his rhythm section of Bill’s brother Steve Lupkin and drummer Bob Carter. Needless to say, the guitar chair would be hard to fill, especially with the shoes of Nick Moss not there. A young man, virtually unknown to the folks in Illinois by the name of Jeremy Vasquez would rise to the occasion.

Lupkin demonstrating solid leadership featured several songs off of his latest release “Hard Pill to Swallow” as well as serving us the old medicine from his past works with Chicago legends and his past releases with finesse. Lupkin made it look so easy, and with the small crowd seemingly had everyone tapping their feet. The cold temperatures kept in a small but devout crowd who enjoyed Lupkin’s straight-ahead style and then there was the featured performance of his bandmates Vazquez and Bob Carter.

Vazquez gave the crowd a knee jerk reaction, ripping into solo after solo and as Lupkin introduced him, “He’s a young guy and he kicks our ass every night.” Vazquez did just that serving up vocals and some solid band leading on four B.B. King numbers from B.B.’s back catalog: “Help the Poor,” “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now,” and “Woke Up This Morning,” and the standard “Three O’Clock Blues.” On “Lost” Vazquez was tossed a shot glass from the crowd and gave some stinging metal on glass slide guitar work.

Not to be out done, the solid backbeat of Bob Carter also offered up some pure, crooning vocals that were equally as powerful on two blues ballads which kept the energy going. Though the crowd dwindled in 20-30 person range most of the night because of the sleet and snow falling outside, those who were there can go back and tell there friends when it gets warm and Bill Lupkin’s in town, you better get on down and see this testament to the idea that Chicago Blues ain’t dead!

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

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