May 29, 2011
Blues Review – Richie Rich and the Chi-Town Blues Band
I want to announce my blues “show of the year” so far, and we’re well into the year. Richie Rich and the Chi-Town Blues Band, with special guest Tom Holland. The band appeared in the west suburbs in Lombard at J. Reilly’s on Roosevelt Road, an under the radar venue that has occasional blues. I almost didn’t make it to the show, as I was not familiar with the band, but hearing that Tom Holland would be joining them, and that they were performing only 5 minutes from my house, I had to get my butt over there. And what a surprise! I walked in and saw a full contingent of musicians- four horn players, a harmonica player hiding in the back, Richie up front, Felton Crews on bass, Tom Holland with his red “lefty”guitar, and keyboard, drums and another guitar player to round it out- all very talented road-tested musicians. Oh yes, and a local female guest vocalist sitting in as well. An amazing dozen or so performers- not something you see at any club, much less in the burbs where it’s hard to even get a 4-piece band to play given the economy.
I got there fairly early in the show, expecting to not stay that long if the music weren’t so good, and especially as I don’t normally like blues and horns in the same sentence, but I was blown away early with the obvious fullness of the sound, the professionalism of the musicians, and the obvious love and passion of the performance, especially by the horn section and Richie himself. It quickly became evident that these guys loved to perform and that they lived to perform. You could see in the horn players faces that they had weathered a blues storm over the years, but that they were willing and able to follow their leader, down whatever road he led them.
Richie was as passionate and emotional a singer and storyteller as you’ll find. Nothing fake or scripted here. He spoke and sang from the heart, and his drive and genuineness was impossible to avoid. You could tell his life was tied to the music he sang and that the performance and words of the songs likely reflected the bands true feelings and lifestyle. I stayed the entire night, a rarity for me, but there was no point at which you wanted to just sneak out or tire of this kind of performance, and it truly was my “show of the year” to date- a true surprise by an under the radar band in a small bar in a non-blues town. An unexpected nugget that I won’t soon forget. I guess the saying is true…“Riches found are twice as sweet as riches earned”, and Richie Rich was quite a sweet find.
Richie Rich and the Chi-Town Blues Band is now on my blues radar, and they should have their own weekly venue to perform at, but they have to hit the road for now. I recommend you track them down and seek them out as soon as you can!
(BlackJack announces his “BlackJack’s Blues Calendar” on Saturday nights on “Blues Edition” and sometimes Thursday nights on “Hambone’s Blues Party” on 90.9fm WDCB Public Radio, and posts his weekly blues calendar on the Windy City Blues Society website at www.WindyCityBlues.org.)