By Tom Baldino
It was a great night for Blues at member venue, the Chubby Pickle, with The Incinerators and headliner Filthy Rich & the Poor Boys serving them up on a perfect summer night. Board member Joseph Vincent Riggio continues to book some outstanding blues acts from all over the map, and our host band seems to get better each time they play this bimonthly event.
Back in June, Steve Smith, bassist for the Incinerators, had a medical emergency just before show time and they weren’t able to play, but this month he was back and feeling fine. You could tell from the opening strains of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talking,” the band has been putting in the rehearsal time to really up their game. This was the general consensus with those in the room that I spoke to during the evening. They are a versatile band with two guitarists in John Fernandez and Rich Coccoli, four vocalists, including Miss Kimmie, an excellent harp player in Gary Neuwirth and a solid rhythm section in Steve on bass and Chris Martell. A great version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put a Spell On You,” was one of many highlights. The Otis Rush tune “Homework,” gave Rich a turn on the vocals and brought back some great memories of seeing the J. Geils Band rock the Boston Academy of Music back in the early seventies when I was stationed at Fort Devens, Mass. Steve took the mic for the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman song, “Little Sister,” made famous by Elvis, while Miss Kimmie belted out the classics, “Blues Is My Business” and “Let the Good Times Roll”. Towards the end of their set, the band rolled out two excellent originals, “Forget About You” and “Alabama Heartbreaker,” the latter having that swampy southern feel. They closed with Elmore James’ “Shake Your Moneymaker,” which had the crowd dancing to the beat.
Rich “Filthy Rich” McPherson and his drummer David Sang, have been together for more than 35 years. Bass player extraordinaire and no stranger to blues aficionados, Dan Mulvey, rounded out this powerhouse trio that held the audience’s attention for their twelve-song set of well-chosen selections. They started with a hard-driving version of John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples.” Rich’s inventive phrasing on his cherry red ES335 and impassioned vocals were backed by a rhythm section that really made this song come alive. Talk about a winning combination; at this point, everyone knew we were in for a special treat. A soulful rendition of Albert King’s, “I’II Play the Blues for You,” closed with Jimmy Page’s familiar “Stairway To Heaven” riff which highlighted Rich’s playful nature, expressed by a wry smile. “Going Up the Country” was the first of two songs by Canned Heat, the other being “On the Road Again”. Rich’s voice was perfect for these tunes as it was in that nearly falsetto of the song’s originator, Alan Wilson. They dipped into the Albert King songbook again for “Born Under A Bad Sign” with Rich taking an extended solo which included the Mick Taylor lick made famous in the Stones song, “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,”with the crowd showing their appreciation. “Sitting on Top of the World” was done in a country style, closer to the original then say, the Cream version, which was very well done. Then the slide came out for a nasty version of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” followed by Freddy King’s “Hideaway,” which included a visit to Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say, Pt. 1”. Next up was a fusion of “Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” and “Night Life”. They really did some great song weaving that night, much to the delight of those in attendance. For the final number, Rich asked Gary Neuwirth to join them on harp for the song “Someday,” a fitting ending, as we hope someday to have this band back again.