As a one-tour, pickup band, the Danko Butterfield Blues Band has as many famous faces as the New Barbarians and put on a much better show. The famous faces were Rick Danko of the Band, Blondie Chaplin of the Beach Boys and Paul Butterfield of his own renowned bands. Their show at the Bayou last night was an exuberant, well-played set of blues classics, old rock 'n' roll hits and Danko originals.
The Barbarians' tour this spring suffered from two weak vocalists, disjointed sound and overblown expectations. The Dank-Butterfield band boasted three fine vocalists in Chaplin and the co-leaders, close rapport within the sextet and informal charm. And as Danko fast-fingered the famous introduction to "Stage Fright," he proved he is at least the equal of the Barbarians' Stanley Clarke on bass.
Danko sang the Band's "Unfaithful Servant" as a gasping blues ballad and his own "Brainwash" as a nerve-jangling rocker. Butterfield sang and blew harmonica on "Born in Chicago" with all the authroity of the blues teacher he is. Chaplin led the way through "Sail on Sailor" as the Beach Boys' tune was transformed into a driving rocker.
The encore was a special moment straight from the movie, "The Last Waltz." Danko sang "Mystery Train" in the Elvis Presley vein while Butterfield blew railroad sounds through his mouth harp.
Johnny Mooney from Buffalo opened the show with a set of rural blues tunes. Working with a backing trio, Mooney was more interested in the good-time feeling of the old songs than in their historical authenticity. His broad delivery and furious guitar style made him sound like John Hammond Jr. with a sense of humor.