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
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.