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OVER THE WEEKEND

A roomful of people enjoyed an evening at the Tralf Saturday with Roomful of Blues.

The Tralf:

Roomful of Blues

The secret of Roomful of Blues' popularity was revealed Saturday night at the Tralf.

Minutes before the octet took the stage, the VH1 "Concert for NYC" - shown on the club's giant video screen - found venerable blues icons Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy trading riffs. Audiences in Buffalo and New York City watched mesmerized.

When the first notes of Roomful of Blues' signature song, "Let's Have a Party," exploded, the dance floor in front of the stage filled with "mature" fans determined to relive their "jitterbugging" days.

The danceable jump blues band delivered finger-poppin' music for the feet not the ears.

"Party . . ." was served up by vocalist Mac Odom in a rough-edged voice that made Shredded Wheat out of the lyrics.

The "road warriors," who have been successfully performing for three decades, have a peerless formula.

Odom, whose voice combines the best qualities of Brook Benton and the worst qualities of Howlin' Wolf, makes the end of one song the beginning of another as the horn section puts the beat in those dancing feet.

"She's Mine," "I Smell Trouble" and "Salt of My Tears" featured Odom riding the single-line guitar riffs of Chris Vachon in a call and response game of tag.

Bob Enos' trumpet, Ray Gennari's trombone and the sax of Rich Lataille were beautiful instruments, whether they appeared alone or in the group setting. Each member of the band is an essential cog in the machinery that drives their relentless beat.

With Tom Enright on bass and drummer Chris Lemp laying down a fat back beat that the dancers couldn't fall off of if their ears were sewn shut, Vachon trotted out his best Clapton lines on "I Smell Trouble," while Odom fulfilled his promise to "break it on down."

The rocking-chair-slow tempo encouraged even more couples to take the dance floor, tighten up and shuffle from foot to foot in a mating ritual that probably dates back to the Pleistocene age.

The first of two sets ended with long instrumentals from the band's new album, "Watch You When You Go."

"Backlash" featured the horn section trotting out its best jazz licks, while "Where's Poppa" sounded like a track from a "Pink Panther" movie.

Dancing to the funky beat of a tight band like "Roomful of Blues" reminds one that music, at its best, makes you vibrate with its spirit.

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