You may or may not have heard of Todd Wolfe, the guy's been cruising the indies for years, but he comes nigh with rather impressive bona fides. His first real group, Nitetrain, when he was only a few years out of high school, opened for such notables as Albert Collins and Dickey Betts. Then, when the 80s rolled around, he met and played with Carla Olson and the then-unknown Sheryl Crow. Carla went on to the Textones and work with Mick Taylor while Crow proceeded, as we very well know, to hit the big time. The Very Big Time. After her platinum Tuesday Night Music Club, the singer needed a lead player with pizzazz for tour gigs and remembered Wolfe. That started a 5-year weekend and saw him, Crow, and the band opening for Dylan, Page & Plant, The Eagles, the Stones, and so on. When the rather wondrous extended trip wound down, Wolfe got his own group together and toured Europe and elsewhere for a decade.
I catch a lot of the rockier side of Steve Gibson in the gent, not to mention Rick Derringer, Ronnie Montrose, Rundgren, some Trower, and the blues-rock of Kim Simmonds and Warren Haynes. Thus, when Blues Revue Magazine cites Government Mule and Cream as RIYLs, they ain't kiddin', McGinty. Wolfe loves to let lose, so all the cuts here are long, one clocking in at 14:41, featuring generous solos, many of which crank up and head for the clouds before suddenly crashing back to Earth for more pensively trad licks, everything circa the Brit Invasion and halcyon days when dirty white blues stepped onto the stage after the Windy City's baddest actors inspired 'em. Cold Black Night, the third song in, gives the first really stretched out bucketful, but the trait repeats many times.
Leslie West, the imposing figure after whom Mountain was named and one of the quintessential 70s guitarists, digs the hell out of Wolfe, and John Popper has more than a few good words for the gent as blues mags likewise rave the cat from here to Tejas and back. Had this ensemble played the Whiskey back in the day, they would've stirred up a buzz alongside Manna, Trapeze, Randall's Island, Bush (Dom Troiano's outfit, not the latter-day hard rockers), Cactus, and other power trios and quartets whose work never received the status so roundly deserved. Thus, for young'uns wanting to hear what that era really sounded like, and dinosaurs aching to fondly recall cherished lost years, The Todd Wolfe Band Live is a sonic drug, not a CD, and a rocking' one at that. Shame, that 14+ minute song I mentioned earlier, nails the closing of this 80 minute disc to the tiles.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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