by Tom Baldino
To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, “what a long strange trip it’s been” for the Tom Craig Band. They competed in our 2019 IBC local competition, and while they didn’t win, they were well liked and subsequently given a spot in the 2020 Bands by the Beach lineup. Well, we all know what happened that year, and as luck would have it, they were rained out in 2021. That brings us a year later to a perfect night for the blues. So, imagine my surprise when I arrive and am told that they are on their way from a gig in South Carolina which was supposed to get them here at 3 pm and with delays, they don’t show up until 7pm, the start time! Troopers that they were, as soon as they arrived, it was all hands on deck and we started at 7:30. Everyone in the crowd hung tight, the city was very accommodating, and the audience was treated to an exceptional night of blues.
With Tom Craig on guitar, Albert “Big Daddy” Lamberson on harp, Eric Johnson on the Hammond organ, Belmar native Dan Mulvey on bass, and Gary Jackere on drums, this Philadelphia-based group was ready. As Tom said to the band just before I introduced them, “let’s start with a funky Samba groove and ease into it.” With songs drawing heavily from the new CD, “Good Man Gone Bad,” produced by Mikey Junior, it showed Tom’s growth as a lyricist since his initial collection, “Get Ready For Me.” Songs like “I’m Working Too Hard” and “I Like Soul In My Blues” sounded fresh and were rooted deeply in the blues. With a nod to some of his influences, Louis Jordan’s “Let the Good times Roll” and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy,” Tom and the band demonstrated in a fifteen-song set that they are true bluesmen and entertain as well as inform. The night ended with a raucous rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” but on this night even though the crowd had to wait out the delay, they certainly did.