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  • Live Review: Tony Joe White - The Key Club - Los Angeles, CA

    Wed, 11 Jun 2008 11:17:57

    Live Review: Tony Joe White - The Key Club - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood welcomed the "Swamp Fox" into its glitzy henhouse

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    Celebrating the release of Deep Cuts, the latest album in his long and storied career, 64-year-old blues man Tony Joe White flooded the downstairs of the Key Club with his signature brand of swamp rock on Tuesday night. Scheduled against a near must-win finals Game 3 for the Los Angeles Lakers, he played to what was most likely a smaller crowd than he otherwise might have enjoyed, but did so with the gusto of a true veteran.

    The crowd itself was noticeably longer in the tooth than the average Sunset Strip set, and all but devoid of the irony that often trails musical acts with a sound so incongruous to the City of Angels. Whereas many self-professed blues fans running around this town couldn’t name a record in the genre before The Black Keys’ Thickfreakness, this was a crowd that could holler out a barrage of blues classics when Tony made it known he was taking requests. The very fact that he made requests an option spoke to the intimate, throwback quality of the set itself.

    Introduced by his daughter as “the coolest motherfucker in the world,” he took the stage with his hat pulled low and jet black sunglasses, moving with a deliberate pace that seemed to come from an indistinguishable combination of style and age. When White kicked things off by sliding into the lyrics “Well, I woke up Monday morning, wondering If Tuesday will be this bad” you could feel the humidity in the club start to rise as he filled the joint with muggy licks and his gutbucket vocals. From there he moved right into a grumbling version of “As The Crow Flies,” which appears on Deep Cuts but was originally released on his 1972 album, The Train I'm On.

    A drummer and keyboard player, who helped add punch to his backwater brand of rock, soon joined White onstage. It took a few numbers for their musical stew to thicken, but once it did it the flavors really started to come out. An uptempo reworking of “Soul Francisco” hit hard, while “Rainy Night In Georgia”—a White original made famous by singer Brook Benton—mined painful depths. The three played in a loose manner befitting the music, stomping through an impressive collection of new album numbers and crowd-pleasing classics. Overall, there did seem to be an intangible ingredient missing that would have made the night’s voodoo even more powerful—perhaps it was the lack of energy from the smaller crowd—but White still proved that he’s a master of some serious juju.

    —Chas Reynolds

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