My Friday night was spent at Café Boogaloo in Hermosa Beach. Drawn there not by the food but by the promise of excellent Blues. Though I had never heard “Artwork Jamal and The Acid Blues” Jamal’s website and reviews promised great music and the comparisons between B.B. King and Jamal were intriguing. Sitting down at a table in the dark and smoky bar, I was intrigued by the décor designed to transfer one to New Orleans and by the rather large stage that featured the band tuning their instruments. In doubt of the band’s capability to call the rowdy early drinkers to attention, I waited with baited breath for them to start.
The blues instantly blasted the bar at full force. There was no announcement or introductions; we were just slapped in the face with the welcoming and down right gritty blues. Immediately people started hollering and dancing in their chairs, the music made you want to dance there was no doubt about that,
Artwork Jamal played guitar while “singing” into a microphone. I use quotations because though it was obvious this man had immense talent; he seemed well past his hay day. Vastly overweight Jamal barely got up out of his chair and when he was not singing, he appeared to be slowly plucking his guitar and possibly dozing off for a quick snooze. Even though his performance was distracting it did not take away from the stellar music the band was presenting. Saving the performance included an extremely talented Bassist Rick Reed, his down and dirty Bass solo got more hollering and “whoo’s” then were heard the entire evening. Billy Bates gave a delightful guitar solo, and with him on the lead guitar, Jamal’s attempt at picking out the tune did not affect the music. The beats were going strong with Brendan Etter on the drums. Michael Fell however, was my personal favorite. It wouldn’t be a Blues band without a killer harmonica player and that is exactly what Fell is. He tore up the harmonica during all of the songs with various version of his instrument.
Overall it was a very enjoyable evening. The second half of their set got people up from their seats dancing. They blasted us with old school Blues music as well as jiving rhythms. I would go see them again, but would prefer “The Acid Blues” to leave the sleeping, stuttering and phone checking Jamal at home.