Bill Wharton, for those of you not familiar, is the Sauce Boss. He is the Sauce Boss because he cooks for his audience. Not just on guitar… he literally cooks. He prepares food for them. Yes, it’s a nice hook, but guess what? The music stands on its own, with or without the food.
Wharton specializes in the blues, but also gets plenty of New Orleans R&B in the mix too. In fact, at times he brings to mind the Radiators mixed with the Neville Brothers. His slide playing fits the tunes brilliantly. In fact, “A Little Rhythm and Blues” is more than what the title says. It’s a full-tilt sample of that style of music with some monster slide playing. “Sky High” is a funky rocker with more Wharton signature playing. “I Don’t Want No Whiskey” is a blues howler with hot playing.
His acoustic playing shines, too. In this day and age, it’s hard to find a version of “Come On In My Kitchen” that features something new. Wharton’s does, and the double meaning is hard to miss, given his inclination to cook for the crowd. “Kinda Rough” has a nice, rolling, folk-rock kind of thing that features a solo on acoustic that jumps out.
Wharton’s vocals are just how you want them – rough and ready. They fit the tunes perfectly. Sauce Boss legend says Wharton walked out of his house one day in the early ’70s and found a ’33 National Steel Guitar in his front yard, left by a friend who was leaving town. He has put it – and his cooking – to good use.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.