Live at the 8X10 in Baltimore 3/10/2010
By Bob Adamek
After a long, snowy winter, some tranquil, balmy weather slipped into Baltimore while a group of seasoned professional groove masters slipped into the wonderful, intimate 8X10 club. Everything about the evening was easy and unhurried. The owners of the 8X10, Abigail Janssens and Brian Shupe, are fanatical music fans and set that tone with their staff, which in turn sets the mood in the club. It’s about the music, it’s about relaxing, it’s about recharging your batteries.
The three musicians in the Joe Krown Trio are all headline acts. Joe was Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s organist for some thirteen years, and has shared the stage with the likes of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Chuck Berry and many, many more. He has a relaxed approach, his hands warmly reflecting the soul of New Orleans blues, rhythm and blues, funk and jazz. His partner on the front line is Walter “Wolfman” Washington, who coaxes incomparably warm tones from his Gibson ES 135 guitar. Wolfman has been a steady fixture in New Orleans music since his days backing Lee Dorsey in the sixties. Russell Batiste Jr. comes from one of the first families of New Orleans music. Here he shows his marvelous versatility as a musician, from the heavy hitting funk and second lines that he effortlessly guides the Funky Meters and PBS through, to this trio’s tasty syncopations.
As Wolfman sat on a stool with his trademark smile, the night’s opening number, an easygoing version of Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, let the medium sized audience know what direction the gig was going. After comfortably sliding through several instrumentals, Wolfman began to employ his silky soulful voice on songs such as Steal Away, and the Bill Withers’ classic, Use Me featured on their new album, Live at the Maple Leaf. Then Wolfman called out “B-flat”, and as the other guys looked up, he said “slow blues”. The number was wonderfully sparse and low down, so that you could hear glasses clinking together and a few people hooting at the stage. Joe’s phat, warm Hammond B-3 organ wrapped the air in all that is sweet about a hot, sweaty, dimly lit bar. As the night wore on, it was a pleasure to see how these guys could each fill the gaps in the music, never getting into each other’s way. Russell adds wonderful textures to the top of the music, born out of understanding music’s subtleties.
The band was grateful for the fans that came out on a Wednesday night to hear them work. Wolfman graciously received many compliments and posed for pictures at the end of the gig. This was such a worthwhile way to spend the evening, if you get a chance to see them, don’t miss it.