SHERMAN ROBERTSON & THE SHAWN KELLERMAN BAND at the Silver Dollar, January 7. Tickets: $18. Attendance: 65. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
After spending the holidays deep in the throes of a serious Mark E. Smith binge that had me stating to anyone who'd listen that the Fall were "fucking brilliant," it became obvious that I needed to switch gears.
My family wasn't impressed with my choice of adjectives over turkey dinner and didn't love my claim that My New House was a way better Christmas song than Jingle Bells.
So when the call came in to cover a blues concert at the Silver Dollar , I was convinced Sherman Robertson was the methadone I needed to kick the heroin hold Mr. Smith had on me.
First, Kitchener native and guitar master Shawn Kellerman and his band hit the stage and broke into a sizzlin' version of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Rude Mood and a short set that got the room warmed up before guest of honour Robertson coolly walked out through the crowd and up onto the stage.
The Louisiana-born, Texas-bred guitar slinger has the bravado of Albert Collins and B. B. King and the chops to back it up. He possesses that rare gift of being able to extract every feeling imaginable from his six-string. While some players are technically masterful, the sounds and tones of too many of them come from the brain, not the soul. And Robertson doesn't have to wail and flail around the stage with a facial expression that brings to mind someone trying to pass a kidney stone.
He mixes slow and fast Texas blues with zydeco, R&B and even a bit of rock so seamlessly, it seems only natural that these different styles should co-exist.
Opening with Shake, Rattle & Roll not only got the crowd going but got the Kellerman Band grooving furiously, too. The interplay between them was inspiring, especially since I'm sure they've only played together a handful of times.
Robertson played extensively with zydeco giant Clifton Chenier, and if you lean more to the middle you've heard him on Paul Simon's Graceland, yet he needs the stage to himself to put his true message across.
He's such a cool-looking cat in his nicely tailored purple suit and friendly smile, I'm sure half the small crowd would have been content just to watch him stand there, but the fact that he played such an intense set put him over like few others I've seen.
I owe Robertson a debt of gratitude. When I got home, I had no desire to hear anything by Mark E. Smith, although I'll still put My New House up against Jingle Bells any day of the week.