WEATHER »

Review: The Robert Cray Band at the Lobero Theatre

Blues Plus Soul Equaled Bliss on Monday, December 8


It’s coming up on three decades since Robert Cray broke through the invisible wall separating heartfelt, soulful blues from mainstream success with his Grammy-winning 1986 album Strong Persuader. Although not much has changed in Cray’s approach, that is unquestionably a good thing. His sold-out Monday night show at the Lobero found the guitarist/singer in a quartet that featured longtime bass player Richard Cousins along with relative newcomers Les Falconer on drums and Dover Weinberg on keyboards. The sound was tight, the groove was solid, and the opportunity to hear Cray’s concise, syncopated solos in tandem with his soaring vocals clearly appealed to the audience. Although Cray reached as far back as Strong Persuader for some of his material, it was his more recent work, including tracks from Twenty (2005), This Time (2009), and In My Soul (2014), that had the majority swaying and nodding.

Cray blends the traditional electric blues of such elders as Albert Collins and B.B. King with the soul production values associated with labels like Stax and Hi Records to powerful effect. Whether he’s emoting through a steamy ballad like “Poor Johnny” from Twenty or cutting up on a novelty number like “Chicken in the Kitchen” from This Time, Cray’s voice remains pure and powerful, a reminder of such soul masters as O.V. Wright and Sam Cooke. In what was perhaps the evening’s most unbridled moment of sheer boogie, Cray and the band trotted out a new original that he wrote in tribute to Booker T. as an encore. The song, rather flippantly titled “Hip Tight Onions,” sent the satisfied crowd home with groovy Hammond B3 chords ringing in their ears, making for a most happy soulful holiday celebration.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Senior Fair Hosts the ‘Young at Heart’

The Senior Fair brought together more than 25 organizations to match needs with services.

City College Ranked #1 by Value Colleges

High graduation rate, community service, and online degree programs made SBCC a 'flawless investment.'

News Commentary: Ribbon Cutting Is Not As Easy As It Looks

Grand opening for new Eastside bridge conveys a tingle of progress.

Santa Barbara Rental Prices Have Skyrocketed Over the Last Five Years

The average rent for a South Coast studio is $1,553.

Trio Stops the Show at Board of Education

More than a dozen appeal to Santa Barbara Unified School District to maintain music classes and programs.