While in Nashville recording their first record together, blues legends Big Joe Maher and Anson Funderburgh made a Sunday appearance at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Nashville. In addition to Maher on drums and vocals and Funderburgh on guitar, the band consisted of keyboardist/B3 man Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton, John Oates, Brian Setzer) and bassist Michael Doster, who is best known for his seventeen-year association (1985-2002) with B.B. King himself.
It goes without saying that the band was phenomenal, debuting music for their upcoming record together, as well as playing some of Big Joe’s past material and blues standards. If the live performance is any indication, the upcoming album between Maher and Funderburgh is sure to excite even the most discriminating of blues listeners. Ranging from a Kenny Burrell inspired minor blues mambo (“Love’s Like That”), to swing/jump blues and funky instrumentals (“Deal With It”), Maher’s new material may be the best of his 30+ year career as one of the country’s best singing drummers. Equally captivating was the band’s rendition of a little-played Johnny “Guitar” Watson tune, “I Don’t Want to Be President,” which provided some election-year humor to the show.
While the band was impressive, the show got even better with the appearance of numerous special guests. McKendree’s son, Yates McKendree, celebrated his 11th birthday by wowing the crowd by with a rockin’ boogie-woogie piano solo while sitting in with the band. Other special guests included renowned country star Lee Roy Parnell on slide guitar, local bandleader/guitarist Ronnie Crutcher (formerly of Brian Setzer’s Nashvillains), famed guitarist Jack Pearson (Allman Brothers, Delbert McClinton, Buddy DeFranco) and top Nashville session guitarist Rob McNelley (Delbert McClinton, Hank Williams Jr., Dolly Parton, Lady Antebellum), who made sure that it was the best music in Nashville that night and left the crowd longing for the release of their upcoming record.
- Nik Rodewald