If you live in New England, you know about Roomful of Blues, the powerhouse R&B band formed by Greg Piccolo and Duke Robillard almost 50 years ago. These guys have played every venue in the Northeast — Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, booze cruises on Narragansett Bay, the lawn of the Spring House on Block Island, converted warehouses in Fall River. Carolyn and I saw them play years ago at a roadside bar not far from our house that was about as big as a shipping container.
The members of the band have changed over the years. Duke split and formed his own band. Ronnie Earl, one of the greatest piano players in history, took his act on the road. But the foundation of the band — a front line composed of trumpets, saxophones, and trombones — hasn’t changed one iota.
This weekend, Roomful played at the renovated Stadium Theater in Woonsocket. They were joined by two other local bands who have have been around since the Carter administration — Steve Smith and The Nakeds, and John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.
Let’s be honest. The Stadium is not a great venue for a concert. The acoustics are lousy. The more the sound man cranked up the volume, the more the sound of the bands tended to blur into a wall of white noise. But the music was great and the crowd (composed mostly of what could charitably be called “older Americans”) loved it.
At the end of the night, all three bands came on stage and jammed together in a very up tempo version of Down The Mississippi Down In New Orleans. Wish I had recorded that but my little Sony point and shoot had run out of battery by that point. It was the highlight of the evening and worth the price of admission for that one song alone.
I was able to record four numbers, though, which are shared with you below. The first song is Too Much Boogie, a Roomful standard. My little toy camera did a pretty good job, I think. The sound quality isn’t great, but then again it wasn’t that great in the theater to begin with.
Hope you enjoy the music. And if you ever get a chance to see Roomful of Blues in person, do not pass it up. They are a significant part of American musical history and deservedly so.