Minstrel, or perhaps marvel of rock?
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion,
Tight Bros From Way Back When
9 p.m. tonight
Muddy Waters to Howlin’ Wolf to Mick Jagger to whom?
This is a question, or a statement, many refuse to consider or even give creedence to. The soul of black music, they so rightly claim, was stolen by those oh-so white Brits and every ’60s record mogul looking for the big score. Who cares who comes next, why pay them any mind?
One man must lay claim to the continuum though, and this man should not be ignored. A good case can be made for Jon Spencer, who brings the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to the Crystal tonight.
Alumnus of seminal ’80s NYC art-punk combo Pussy Galore, guitar/vox man Spencer went on to form the Blues Explosion along with guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russel Simins.
The Blues Explosion quickly gained a reputation for rocking live shows and the stage presence of their over-exuberant leader. On stage, Spencer has adopted and melded the howls of Howlin’ Wolf, the bu-bu-baby tenor of Elvis, and the relentless call-and-response showmanship of James Brown.
Reviled in some quarters for his cocksure, don’t-bother-the-man attitude, and adored in others for the same (here seen as charisma), Spencer has been called everything from a modern-day minstrel to the savior of rock and roll.
One thing is for sure, his live shows never disappoint. The crowd invariably finds itself captivated by the man who would be a star. Spencer could never be called a blues man, or even a rocker – he is, and always will be, a consummate performer.
Spencer is backed by one of the best little rhythm sections working today. Simins never once stops hittin’ the skins during a set, and Bauer’s guitar (the Blues Explosions best-kept secret) always seems on the verge of spontaneous combustion.
Expect to drown in a mass of dancing bodies tonight at the Crystal; Spencer will insist everyone gets down.