|Laura Rain and George Friend|
A near capacity crowd thoroughly enjoyed what I describe as two “must sees” on Saturday night as Laura Rain and the Caesars performed a smokin’ hot show at the new Boo’s club inside Mr. B’s Pub in downtown Royal Oak.
Rain, singer and frontwoman for the group, is a dynamic performer best described as a force of nature. She boasts a powerful voice that is reminiscent of Aretha with a touch of Esther Phillips. And she delivers her vocals with a ferocity that reminded a companion of Janis Joplin. Rain, introduced as the “Cleopatra of the Blues,” was resplendent in a shimmery vintage gown. She has a great stage presence, oodles of sex appeal, boundless energy, and is a “must see” if you haven’t caught the group’s powerful mix of blues, R&B, funk and “modern, retro soul.”
|Mark "Paz Man" Pasman|
Matching Rain in quality was guitarist George Friend, a talented and versatile axman who excels in both backup and solo roles. His playing can be subtle and tasteful, but he can rock out just as well.
Bassist Gwenyth Hayes and drummer Scott Veenstra provide a solid rhythm section.
Friend looked like he was having a blast on Saturday, not only when he was interacting with Rain, but also when Boo’s musical host, guitarist Mark “Paz Man” Pasman, joined the group for a half dozen selections.
Hearing these two fine guitarists trading licks was a treat indeed.
Boo’s, an intimate upscale blues club inside Mr. B’s in Royal Oak, is also a “must see.” The club has a cool vibe and lots of ambient energy, courtesy of the crowd inside Mr. B’s as well as the individuals who walk by on Main Street past the bank of windows behind the stage. The group’s dynamic sound produced lots of curious looks by those passing by.
Check out Laura Rain and the Caesars and their new CD, “Closer,” at laurarain.net. Be sure to catch a live performance before they head out on tour again. Click here to see a photo gallery from Saturday's show.
|Laura Rain and the Caesars|
At Boo’s, you can order food from the menu that received an overhaul when former auto-executive-turned-chef Johnny Prep purchased Mr. B’s and renovated the business this summer.
Boo’s has an excellent sound system that is not overwhelming loud, despite the relatively small size of the club. Unlike many blues clubs, a reservation holds a table for you, so there’s no hassle finding a seat. The club does have a cover charge (usually $10) on the weekends, but it’s worth it to see top Detroit blues performers in such an intimate setting.
Boo’s has only been open since Nov. 15, but has already hosted many talented performers including Bobby Murray, longtime guitarist for Etta James; and singer Thornetta Davis, a Detroit favorite.
You can count on Boo’s always hosting the cream of the Detroit blues crop, since Pasman does the booking. He knows the Detroit scene as well as anyone, not only as a musician, but as the former host of the “Motor City Blues Project” radio show for over 25 years. It helps that the club owner is a fan of the music too.
This week, Robert Noll performs as part of the Thursday Front Porch series, Howard Glazer celebrates the release of his new recording “Looking in the Mirror” with a live show on Friday, and The Alligators come in Saturday.
Downtown Royal Oak has not had a venue for the blues since Memphis Smoke closed. Boo’s presents a new opportunity to enjoy the best of the Detroit blues scene in a safe, downtown environment.
Check it out as soon as you can.
To send info to JB Blues, please email Joe.Ballor@dailytribune.com