The Return of the Senders

Return Of The Senders Bnr

Blue Collar Blues Night in February marked the return of Dean Shot and his Solid Senders. A little less than a year ago they appeared on a double bill with The Incinerators, but on this night, they had the stage to themselves and a chance for Dean to stretch out and bring forth his inner musicologist. Dean was joined by his fellow Fabulous Thunderbird bandmate, Steve Kirsty, on upright bass, while Nick Fishman was behind the skins. Long-time friend of both Dean and the JSJBF, Big Mike DaVita, was again featured on harp and vocals. 

The night got off to an auspicious start with Dean blowing his amp during sound check, but switching it out didn’t deter him from exhibiting what a great player and bandleader he is. While playing with major acts throughout his career has been a great experience, Dean’s love of performing his own interpretation of the music that moves him is what he finds most satisfying. Armed with his 90’s reissue Danelectro u2, he was able to bring to life a wide variety of styles from Blues to Surf Rock to Pop with an authentic feel, covering well over thirty tunes in two sets. Opening with the Freddy King number “Onion Rings,” he took the rhythm section of Steve and Nick through an extended instrumental workout which got both the band and the audience warmed up for what was to come. On the original composition, “Sit Down,” the reverb kicked in for a surf -tinged instrumental workout. With Gene Vincent’s 1958 release “Lotta Lovin’,” the band took it up a notch and then slid into a terrific rendition of “Walk Don’t Run,” a huge instrumental hit for the Ventures almost 65 years ago. At this point, Big Mike joined them on vocals on the early B.B. King song, “Take a Swing with Me”. This led into another B.B. tune, “Help the Poor,” again with Big Mike on vocals and harp. The song “Long Gone Train” opened with Nick’s wonderful chugging beat that really got the crowd moving. Next walking was in order, with one of Fats Domino’s signature numbers, “I’m Walkin’”. From there we went “Under the Boardwalk,” with Dean leading the way on this classic rendition. Freddy Jackson’s “Rock Me Tonight” was given a bluesy feel with some nice soloing by Dean. Johnny Dyer’s “Crazy About That Thing,” showcased some of Big Mike’s harp playing, much to the delight of the audience, while Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” allowed Dean to display his considerable skills.   Bo Diddley’s “Mona,” was a show stopper with the band getting into high gear. The set closed with B.B. King’s “Walking With B,” a slow blues tune that saw Dean walk the crowd playing a fiery solo, that is, until the battery gave out in his wireless transmitter. The band continued to pound out the beat while he returned to the stage, changed the battery, went back out and finished in front of our table playing with his teeth! 

The second set kicked off with “Crackin’ Up,” a song covered by many but most notably the Rolling Stones on their “Live At The El Mocambo 1977”. The song “Baby” featured Big Mike on vocals as he also did on the song “She’s Tough,” a tune Dean has played on with its composers, The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Next up was Slim Harpo’s “It’s Raining in My Heart” with Mike’s vocals and some great harp in the mix. This was followed by “Love Me Baby” and “That’s Tough”. A spirited version Rufus Thomas “Walking the Dog,” infused with much energy by the band, had the crowd singing and in some cases dancing. After a great rendition of the song “Say What You Mean,” a song recorded by Big Bill Broonzy in 1939, “Too Many Drivers,” sure didn’t sound like a tune ready for the old age home! If you thought that was an oldie, the next tune, “Baby Doll” was written by Bessie Smith in 1926 but performed as only this band could, with love, respect and great musicianship. Joined by our own Gary Neuwirth on harp, the band gave us a standout version of another Slim Harpo tune covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, “Scratch My Back,” which featured that great chicken scratch guitar sound replicated flawlessly by Dean. With Gary’s help, T Bone Walker’s “Bye Bye Baby” was a welcome addition to the set, as was his song “Evening”. The high point of the evening for me was the surf rock sounding compilation which began with the master Dick Dale’s “Misirlou,” coupled with “007: James Bond: Theme,”then “Apache,” which was inspired by the Burt Lancaster movie of the same name and Link Wray’s classic “Rumble,” about which a recent documentary was based. A great version of a song made famous by Ray Charles, “Unchain My Heart,” was followed by “Let’s Have a Good Time,” which brought us to the closer, a smokin’ hot version of “Magic Sam’s Boogie,” with a little “Stairway to Heaven” thrown in for seasoning.

This was a show you would have paid to see in an NYC nightclub, but could be had at the Chubby Pickle for the price of a beer. My hat’s off to Dean and the band as well as JSJBF board member Joseph Vincent Riggio for excellently mixing the sound and giving us a night of authentic American music.