Go check out Soul Brother No. 1 at the Sun, and see where all the diluted, cookie-cutter crap you gleefully consume had its genesis in raw genius.
Underrated Texas blues-guitar ace ROY GAINES has spent most of his lengthy career in the service of others rather than copping any well-deserved glory for himself. A protégé of T-Bone Walker, he played gigs around his native Houston as "T-Bone Junior" before setting out to LA in the '50s, where he played in the celebrated jump-blues bands of Roy Milton and Chuck Willis. As a sideman to singer Bobby "Blue" Bland, he re-defined Walker's signature tune, "Stormy Monday," which became among Bland's biggest hits. Today, with the tune a clichéd cover among second-rate blues garage bands, it is Gaines' version rather than Walker's that serves as the template for nascent pickers.
Gaines is doing the T-Bone shuffle again on his latest album (he has only had a very few records released with himself as leader over the years). Using Walker's slick and playful style as a springboard, Gaines embellishes the formula with sweet, melodic flourishes and brushstrokes of his own while retaining the essential vibe of his hero. Even Gaines' vocal phrasing is in huge debt to Walker's, but his tone is a deeper, rougher baritone than Walker's soothing croon.
Gaines' playing, at once derivative and unique, is Texas guitar blues at its pre-Stevie Ray smooth-and-jazzy finest. Check him out Saturday night at the Blue Cafe in Long Beach.
James Brown performs at the Sun Theatre, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700. Tues., 8:30 p.m. $69.50; Roy Gaines performs at the Blue Cafe, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. Sat., 9:30 p.m. $8.