Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Blasters, the Sin City Ditch Diggers, the Royal Hounds, Shanda and the Howlers at Triple B, Friday Feb 5, 2016

Great night for the Triple B with a great line up of local acts opening for the legendary Blasters!

First up was the relative newcomers, Shanda and the Howlers, featuring Shanda (natch) from the Shandaleers, Luke of the Lucky Cheats, Trevor from the Part Time Criminals (and many other projects), sax-man Micah and drummer Keith. While they have only been playing out a few months, their set is now mostly originals mixing 50's/60's jump blues, soul and rock'n'roll. Shanda has a terrific, powerful voice, Trevor has a wonderful guitar tone, Micah wails and Luke and Keith keep the beat swingin' for your dancin' pleasure! Some stuff kinda reminded me of old Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes material, but all was great, with call'n'answer vocals, plenty of dynamics, cool pauses, key changes and even a wailin' take on the Sonics' "Shot Down". Definitely one of my new fave bands in town!

The Royal Hounds followed with their slick showmanship and rockin' riffs, even with Keith from the Howlers sitting in on drums as a last minute replacement. Fun stuff like covers of "I Love Paris" and "Surfin' Bird"/"Train Kept a-Rollin'" and originals like "I'm in Love With a Zombie" all while boppin' around the stage in their highly animated way and even throwing around the stand-up bass.

The Sin City Ditch Diggers got the coveted slot right before the Blasters but was unfortunately plagued with sound issues that didn't appear to be there fault. Eventually things got worked out, but it did mess with their momentum, even if they handled it like pros and made the best of the situation. Think there were some new songs this evening and they did get the crowd up'n'dancin'!

While I miss Dave Alvin's playing and charisma, the Blasters are still a force to be reckoned with and lead guitarist Keith Wyatt is a monster player. Of course, Phil's voice and rhythm playing remains excellent and Bill'n'John on drums'n'bass give an incredible drivin' backbeat to the tunes that, I think, give the songs their power'n'style. I certainly can't imagine the band without them! The set list seems pretty much the same as the last couple times they've been out here (3 times within a year, I believe - that's gotta be a record for a touring band coming to Vegas!) - "Long White Cadillac", "Border Radio", "Dark Night", the ultra-groovy start'n'stop of "I'm Shakin'", the harp tunes "Hear Me Cryin'" and "Goodbye Baby, So Long", "Daddy Rollin' Stone", "American Music", "Marie Marie" and plenty more! They can move from slow, sizzlin' blues, to mid-tempo guitar workouts (Keith was particularly impressive this night), to frantic rockers and never lose their touch or lose the audience. True professionals and another truly great set!

Gotta also give kudos to DJ's Lucky LaRue and Big Daddy for keepin' the tunes and the feet flying in between the live acts. Cool night all around - thanks Triple B!