Sunday evening's heavy fog on the river outside the B-Bar wasn't a deterrent to the diehard area blues fans who showed up for the Alvin "Youngblood" Hart concert. Some wanted to see Hart display his formidable talents as an acoustic slide guitarist, but others would have been just as pleased if he flashed his picks over the strings on the handful of classy looking electric axes racked next to him on stage.
About a half-hour before the show started, Hart and his backup duo (bass and drums) played a fine version of the Dave Dudley country music classic from 1963, "Cowboy Boots," during their sound check. This was an indicator of what was to come. Although he has been labeled a blues guitarist by some critics, generally plays in venues that cater to blues aficionados and his first album won a flurry of awards in that genre, Hart is not someone who can easily be categorized. When that Dudley tune was reprised later on in the evening, it and other, similar songs revealed that Hart's world view has a wide focus.
Hart manages to create intellectually rewarding, foot-stomping, heart-rending, electrified blues riffs capable of attracting jam band fans without alienating too many followers of the acoustic tradition. He did indeed whip out his acoustic guitar and play a crafty rendition of the old blues standard, "Mama Don't Allow," but he slipped in instrumental bits of "Running Down the Road, Feeling Bad" and a couple of other chestnuts to make his version unique.
Hart's electric guitar playing dominated the evening, however, and he proved himself to be as excellent and diversified a musician in concert as he appears to be on his albums.
He was playing not only his own blues drenched tunes, but a healthy selection of material from other styles as well. A rock oldie by the Sonics ("The Hustler") fit nicely next to the blues classic made famous by Howlin' Wolf, "How Many More Years." His own ska-influenced "Just About To Go" was a great contrast to "Cryin' Won't Help You."
Alvin "Youngblood" Hart
Sunday evening at the B-Bar, Niagara Falls.