For the last 30 years, Little Charlie and the Nightcats have been dazzling audiences with their creative mixture of West Coast jump and Chicago blues.  The team of guitarist Charlie Baty and harmonicist / vocalist / songwriter Rick Estrin combine technical brilliance with loads of fun.  A Nightcats performance has the audience racing to the dance floor, laughing at the lyrics (with songs like “Money must think I’m dead”), and reveling in the band’s famous theatrics.

Little Charlie and the Nightcats was formed in Sacramento in the 1980s.  They quickly came to the attention of Alligator Records, which has produced six studio albums, a live album, and a greatest hits CD.  Their recent release (“That’s Big!”, 2002) continues their tradition of tongue-in-cheek storytelling in original songs that range from roots-oriented blues to jazz-flavored jump.  “Rick Estrin sings and writes songs like the brightest wise guy in all bluesland and blows harmonica as if he learned at the knee of Little Walter,” raves Down Beat.  Guitar World declares, “Baty’s straight blues playing is eye-popping…he stretches solos to the breaking point, skittering on the edge, where one wrong note will bring the whole thing crashing down.”  Rounding out the Nightcats are Bay area veterans drummer Jay Hansen and bassist Lorenzo Farrell.

“Rollicking, super-cool, jazzy and hip…satirical, sharp lyrics and killer guitar and harp solos. It just doesn’t get any better then this.” – Blues Revue.

“Powerful…outrageous…wonderful….Baty’s immediately recognizable guitar style and Estrin’s uniquely twisted and humorous lyrical vision [make] Little Charlie and the Nightcats one of the most successful proponents of the blues/swing /rock/jazz synthesis so popular today.” – Living Blues.

Life at the Top is a five-piece band comprised of long time Central Coast performers, with musical influences ranging from the legendary Albert Collins to contemporary blues artists such as Debbie Davies and Tommy Castro, as well as crossover performers such as Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers.  The band includes Karen Wilkins on vocals and keyboard, Guitar Slim on guitar and vocals, Dudley Dean on guitar and vocals, Dan McPherson on bass and vocals, and Ralph Liddle on drums.  Their high-energy performance was a hit at the blues show last year, so dancers are urged to be prompt.

4/24/2004 R.J. Mischo/RAIL

R.J. Mischo Singer and harmonica player R.J. Mischo plays hot, sweaty, blistering blues that borrows heavily from the Chicago style of the 50’s. He has gained a reputation as one of the best interpreters of classic Chicago blues harmonica. Whether R. J. Mischo is playing down-and-dirty, back-alley blues or supercharged West Coast jump, he always delivers some of the best blues harmonica playing found anywhere today. His high voltage energy, hot-blooded passion, and playful humor are sure to get you dancing. R.J. Mischo began his music career over 20 years ago in Minneapolis, where he worked with blues legends like Muddy Waters alumni Mojo Buford and Sonny Rogers. He gained a wider audience with the release of his first CD Ready to Go in 1992. Soon after, R.J. was recognized as one of the top blues acts in the Midwest, winning the Minnesota Music Awards for best harmonica player in 1995 and best band in 1997. After successful tours of the US and Europe, he produced four highly acclaimed CDs for the German label Crosscut Records. In 1998, R.J. relocated to San Francisco and has recorded four CDs for Mountain Top Productions. The 1999 CD West Wind Blowin’ featured guest performances by Steve Freund and Rusty Zinn, while his latest CD Meet Me On The Coast was recorded “live” in the studio. Besides performing regularly in California, R.J. tours extensively throughout the United States and Europe. He has played on many of the word’s greatest blues stages, including blues festivals in San Francisco, Monterey, and the Delta Blues Festival in Mississippi. The band includes Justin MacCarthy on guitar, Marcus Cairno on bass, and Robi Bean on drums. Visit their website at www.rjblues.com. RAIL Rail is a blues and rock band composed of veteran Central Coast musicians. The band features Randy Allen on guitar, Steve Denes on bass, Richard Jordon on drums, Bill Pope on keyboards, and George Taylor on lead vocals. For the last 20 years, these musicians have played in a variety of rock and blues bands in the Central Valley. They recently opened for Rob Rio at our favorite Atascadero blues venue, and the enthusiastic audience asked us to bring them back for a blues show.

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