Living Blues 2019
NANCY WRIGHT Alive & Blue VizzTone / Direct Hit Records – VTDH-112
“Alive” is the ideal word for the 11 live performances on Nancy Wright’s latest VizzTone release, Alive & Blue. With her steamy sax leading the way her tight band of San Francisco Bay Area stalwarts, keyboardist Tony Lufrano, guitarist Jeff Tamelier, bassist Karl Sevareid, and drummer Paul Revelli, provide excellent solos and collaborations on these soul, R&B, and funk numbers. Five tracks are Wright originals. This recording took place on December 7, 2018, at San Francisco’s oldest bar, the Saloon—a narrow, dark, and musty dive bar in North Beach where musicians squeeze onto a small stage, slightly elevated above the often frenetic dance floor. Wright has been playing there since the 1980s. Wright, who has been nominated for a Blues Music Award each of the past three years, had a colorful youth. She played with John Lee Hooker, including shows at Carnegie Hall and the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival. She considers fellow Midwesterner Lonnie Mack her mentor, recalling hanging out with him onstage and sitting in his kitchen in Dayton, Ohio, listening to demos. Mack took her on the road to New York and Nashville. The quick-out-of-the-gate opener on this CD, Bugalu, is one of four original instrumentals. Bernie’s Blues gives the audience a chance to slow down and dream. Wright follows her muse for the eight-minute Jo-Jo, and Rutabagas completes this CD . A fifth instrumental is King Curtis’ soul classic Soul Serenade. Wright’s vocals have a bright treble sound that’s steeped in old school R&B. Excellent examples are Been Waiting That Long and Keep Your Hands Off of Him, a rocker where a woman goes all-out for her man: “Hands off him unless you want to fight,” she sings. On Allen Toussaint’s What Do You Want the Girl to Do a girl is trying so hard to get this man that she’s being broken in two. On Warranty Wright describes a romance that has a warranty but not a money-back guarantee: “Forever is a young girl’s game.” If you’re looking for straight-ahead blues her take on Lazy Lester’s Sugar Coated Love is the song for you. This goodtime CD is further proof that Nancy Wright is one of the brightest stars in the San Francisco Bay area music scene and nationwide.
– Robert Feuer