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The Chris Cain Band - Live at Blue Monday May 5, 2008
The Alamo, Springfield IL

It was a warm Cinco de Mayo at the Alamo this past Monday evening. It wasn’t just the weather that caused things to be hot. It was the intense combustion and hell fire spewing from a Gibson hollow body guitar and a little 50 watt tube amp ignited by the enthusiastic performance of Chris Cain. Since his 1995 release Somewhere Along the Way on the Blind Pig label, Cain has kept a frenetic touring schedule. Cain hasn’t released an album since 2003 so being “unburdened” by an album to support, Cain let his passion and intensity spill forth with an endless amount of guitar licks, runs on a catalog of cover tunes that lovers of blues greatly appreciated.

With a Tyler Eng on drums and Dwayne Tate on bass, Cain gave a wide-open flow of immense creativity. Tate’s tap style bass and Eng’s splashy swing-influenced drums kept dancers on the floor and a crowd of over 50 Blues lovers well past last call at the Alamo.

Cain was the ever-present entertainer, cracking jokes between songs with his thick New York bravado and a David Letterman-esque smile. When he took off on guitar the jazz influenced blues was so thick in the room you could see it moisten the tables. A six minute “Steppin’ On A High Wire” off  Somewhere, brought the crowd to their feet for the first of several times during the night. From the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Who’s Been Talkin’,” Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me,” to Shuggie Otis’ “Me and My Woman,” the covers tunes were never over the top imitations but, instead were a little something old, a little something new, and always the blues.

The one song that completely awed the crowd was the 10 odyssey of Guitar Slim’s “Bad Luck Blues” that pushed on a little after quarter past midnight. Cain showed his dynamics by throwing speed, tone, and feel up down and all around while managing to walk through the front rows of chairs in the crowd recalling some of Slim’s own stage performances.

Combustible, Intense, and innovation are the three words best describing the performance. If you’re a guitar head or a general blues fan, Chris Cain and his band will surely put your feet to tappin’ and your head a’bobbin’.

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

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