Little Charlie and the Nightcats – That’s Big

That's Big
That's Big

Charlie Baty and company come through again. If you’re not familiar with Charlie and the boys, where you been? Since the late ’80s, they’ve put out a batch of excellent blues records that rank with some of the finest around. Blues is kind of a limiting term for these guys. Rick Estrin’s vocals and harp, and Charlie’s multi-faceted guitar work cover pretty much everything from big-band swing to Chicago blues.

You’d have to look long and hard to find a guitarist as versatile as Charlie. “Real Love,” and “Livin’ Good” let him slice through a Chicago style blues. “Weekend Off” is an encyclopedia of West Coast Jump Blues licks, with T-Bone Walker being the starting point, and Charlie taking it his own way from there. The killer comping and warmly distorted guitar of “Go On If You’re Goin'” help finish off a nice album full of blues for the 21st century. There are three instrumentals in between that let the whole band showcase their talents. Estrin is a wonderful harp player, and writes some great tunes that he delivers with a wink and a nod when called for, and deadly seriousness when the song asks for it.

But, the star of the band is Baty – one of the best guitarists of the genre. Versatile and smart, he sets the bar high. Rusty Zinn plays on a couple of tunes too, showcasing his wonderful style. All in all, this one’s a delight.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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