At one point during Saturday night's late show at the Twist and Shout club, spectators were craning their necks around and above the crowded dance floor to catch a glimpse of bluesman Sonny Rhodes, who was seated on stage, playing lap steel guitar. Not much later, everyone looked up as singer Frankie Lee jumped on a chair in the midst of the crowd, then on a table, during one of the most uninhibited and memorable finales the club has ever seen.
The show was billed as a West Coast blues revue, but both Rhodes and Lee still bear the stamp of their Southern influences. With both musicians, it's not so much what they perform as how. Rhodes turned several seemingly ordinary shuffles and laments into long stem-winding performances, the momentum building with every chorus. His best performances combined a raw vocal intensity with some unusual guitar licks, and on more than one tune his band proved it could really swing as well.
Lee, on the other hand, looked as though he had never sat down in his life. An unabashedly old-fashioned soulman, he sang and preached of party times with an evangelical fervor. Although he had the benefit of more contemporary material and the company of guitarist Bobby Murray, his gritty, gospel-bred voice and unflagging sense of showmanship are what really stood out. Among other things, his last set included such oddities as a warbling remake of the Everly Brothers' hit, "Cathy's Clown."