Your Complete Guide to the Chicago Blues Scene
with Nick Gaitan & The Umbrella Man
July 16, 2014
Mayne Stage, Chicago
By Greg Easterling
Photos: Michael Jozwiak/ Portraits in Blues
Guitarist/singer/songwriter Amy Hart returned to town recently for several dates including a well-received show July 16th at Mayne Stage in Rogers Park. Originally from the Chicago area, Hart now calls the friendly confines of Nashville home; yet she still retains the Windy City influences she soaked up during her formative years here when she opened shows for blues legends like Junior Wells, Koko Taylor and James Cotton.
The Mayne Stage show was being taped by WYCC, Channel 20, giving an air of extra urgency to the proceedings. At the opening cue, Hart's five piece band launched into an instrumental groove owing heavily to the blues, as well as Americana, with a slightly country leaning touch every now and then. Not many Chicago blues bands feature dobro alongside blues harp but Hart is apparently more than pleased to do a little genre bending and the results are more than decent. Dobro player Gene Bush distinguished himself a number of times during the set.
Also with the tape rolling, Amy was looking good which, while not essential to the performance, never hurts of course. Decked out in a black cocktail dress with silver bangles, set off against her long blond hair, she wielded her Fender with style and grace.
While many blues acts sprinkle their sets liberally with cover versions, Hart concentrates on original songs such as "Put Me Back" and "Red Dress Blues". "Blues At The Top Of The World" documents her experience headlining the Himalayan Blues Festival in Nepal. "Sometimes Country Gets The Blues" blends Nashville with Chicago, a slower number that showcases Hart's youthful sounding vocals.
All in all, Hart's Mayne Stage performance was a winning effort and should make for a fine cable program in the near future. Find out more about the artist and her latest CD Congratulations at www.amyhart.com
Hart's show was opened by Nick Gaitan and the Umbrella Man from Houston, featuring an appealing Tex-Mex roadhouse sound augmented by steel guitar, accordion and squeeze box. Hart's respectably sized audience responded well to this veteran Texas outfit whose leader's credits include time spent with legendary songwriter Billy Joe Shaver.
Greg Easterling hosts the 12 midnight – 5 a.m. shift on WDRV (97.1 FM) He also hosts American Backroads on WDCB (90.9 FM).