Minor keys are like hot sauce on open wounds. When you want to kick that urge, that emotion, that thrill, that chill up a bit, nothing's finer than going minor. Then there's Rochester acoustic blues aficionado and virtuoso Fred Vine. Armed with a dreadnaught and a National Steel, Vine swings from the minor vine as the tunes dictate, but he maintains the music's ominous burn when he sails into major territory. It's all in the man's fingertips.
His finger style was loose yet flawless Thursday, January 31, at the Little Theatre Café. With legendary string bassist Brian Williams holding down the rhythm and walking the line, Vine struck me as a displaced ragtime piano player as much as he did a guitar slinger. The duo picked and plucked a handful of ragged gems as the audience nursed heat from coffee mugs. Waters got Muddy, as Vine and Williams traversed the dirt between The Delta, Chicago, and the snowy East Avenue corridor.
After my wife and I dined as Mario's guests Friday night, we headed to Abilene for a nightcap, which turned into a blasting cap with The Fools. Maybe it was the Rory Gallagher rave-up that spun me out right away, but I really dug the band's set -- a blend of blues and atmosphere on the rocks.
I flew out into the upstate tundra to Lovin' Cup Saturday night. It was so cold I actually saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets. Anyway, Low Flying Planes was on stage to keep us warm with its hot rock. This is a band that flies the original flag for the most part and shows huge potential as it comes into its own. Tonally speaking it could stand to smooth things out a bit, but the set rocked otherwise. This Life followed with its cerebral, piano-driven alt-rock. The band has a serious slant amidst its clever compositions and people seemed torn between dancing and listening. You can do both, you know.