Material: Artur Menezes featured mostly covers, including modern blues selections from Henrik Freischlader interspersed between instrumentals by Albert Collins. The few original tunes included “I Have Screwed Up,” which has a Texas blues feel to it. The lyrics here couldn’t get any bluesier: “Early in the morning in a bed that’s not mine/Lots of empty glasses of beer, whiskey and wine/Clothes all over the floor and they’re not just mine…I have screwed up my life in one day and one night.”
Musicianship: As far as original songs go, Menezes pushes all the standard compositional buttons, from dropouts and tempo changes to emphasize specific instruments and classic turnarounds and tight finales. Richardson keeps that pace going too by transitioning straight between songs. The meticulously selected covers in this set also have the perfect solo/break combinations that get the audience pumped. The fuzz of Jonny Lang’s “There’s Gotta Be A Change” is a little hot at the onset, but Menezes adjusts appropriately.
Performance: Not only did Menezes have fun performing with his band, he was also on point and stayed in constant communication with them. He frequently sang off mic as needed, which sounded fine within the space, while Richardson and Bodi aided on choruses. Menezes not only worked the stage but the entire perimeter of the venue. Suddenly he handed his guitar to a fellow guitarist in the audience by the name of Lamar Wayne, who did a great on-the-spot solo.
The grand finale was B.B. King’s “Don't You Lie To Me.” Menezes encouraged a few couples to dance here while he and Bodi got in on the fun too, with a little synchronized swinging along with two very special guests, saxophone players Pat Zicari and Craig Williams.
Summary: “Don't You Lie To Me” should have ended the show, as it was the true high note. Otherwise this set is a fantastic selection of both fresh and classic blues tunes that showcase all players involved. The show is put on by The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society, which is an affiliate of the Blues Foundation nonprofit that sends a group every year to the International Blues Challenge. This performance from Artur Menezes is a sample of the group’s presentation for this event in Memphis.
The Players: Artur Menezes, vocals, guitar; Gui Bodi, bass; Bianca Richardson, drums.
Photo by Fred Gruchalla