If you roll into Aztec, New Mexico, with a name like Bad Brad and the Fat Cats, you’d better be ready to have someone call you out on it. Well, Bad Brad & the Fat Cats, live up to their name-these guys are bad. Bad to the bone that is. They were three stray cats that wandered into a town of old sore heads, into a Tree City on the eve of Arbor Day, and had the guts to use it as their personal scratching post.
I’m still sore about not being an old sore head, so I came to the Aztec Theater April 25th of 2014 with a bit of an attitude. I’d first chipped my tooth on the Blues scene, in Ft. Collins, Colorado in the late 70’s. If you weren’t there-you missed it. The Fort was a Blues Bastion, back in the days of cherry cider stands, Sons of Silence, and Federal Prison for pot offenses. The Blues found Ft. Collins in the 1970’s, and liked it, and now it looks like it has found Aztec, New Mexico, in 2014, and is liking it there also.
So, who cares about me, what about the Band? First of all, the Fat Cats aren’t fat. Ok, Brad could be on the way, but he’s on the Ricky Ricardo, side of cute. What the Fat Cats ARE fat in, is a lean sound of base and percussion, blended powerfully with the superlative finger work of Brad’s acoustic guitar, that drives the beat, and introduces the vocals that are on par with their original artists. These guys rock the Blues, from beginning to end. You won’t know that from the onset, but you will realize it later, as they pump the room full of blues with scarcely a chance to catch one’s breath. I caught myself singing lyrics I’d forgotten I’d known. ( The 60’s were good for some, but the 70’s and 80’s were even better for others :)
But, part of the appeal of Bad Brad and the Fat Cats is the ability to draw you in. They make you a part of the show. As every epic Blues performer has learned-you ain’t nothin’ without that swing. The swing, that is, is the core of Blues music-empathy with your audience. Ask Minnie the Moocher-she’ll tell you, she weren’t without Cab Calloway.. It can’t be more simple than that-or harder to achieve. Pros make it look easy, and these guys are on their way to making it look easy.
The Rolling Stones can pack stadiums, and are indisputably one of the great rock bands of our times. The Blues,rhythm and beats, tho, are the grass rooted outside the stadium, like at Colorado State University, when the Stones began their 1969 Tour across the US there, Ask Mick, and he will probably tell you; their roots sprouted with Muddy Waters, and others in the Blues genre. Blues were meant to be enjoyed up close and personal, not at Madison Square Garden. Up close and personal, is what we got at the Aztec Theater, April 25th.
I have heard countless wanna be bands over the years. They basically have two flaws; poor vocals washed out by the music, and discordant acoustics. Bad Brad & the Fat Cats have beaten these flaws into the ground, underneath the band’s obvious command of their craft. (I recognize your amp Brad, and it didn’t just fall off the UPS truck.) These guys know their Blues. In an era when a lot of Bands try to pass themselves off as being Blues artists, these guys are the real deal. When I can go a few miles to Aztec, New Mexico, and hear Professor Longhair for the first time in 30 years, done to perfection, well, these lads know their stuff.
Bad Brad & the Fat Cats really brought it to us, but if you missed them, you still have a chance to catch a true rockin’ trio when they return to Aztec for the Animas River Blues Festival early this summer.
If you haven’t been to the Aztec Theater lately, as I have not, you need to check it out. The Theater fits the venue for “up close” and ” rising artists”. Take credit Crash Music, for having the guts and vision to bring art, music, and all it’s manifestations to Aztec, and to keeping an Aztec landmark alive. I’ll be the one watching for a chance to come back.
Brad & the Fat Cats-see you this summer!