Chris Canas Band

Live Review: Chris Canas Band at Up North Craft Bar in Detroit, MI

Material: High octane blues in all its forms is the stock and trade of the Chris Canas Band. Whether we’re talking rock, funk, country, Motown and all points in between, this band delivers on all fronts. And they seem to permeate whatever they do with the soul and spirit of the medium. From traditional shuffles like “Would You Mind” and the declarative “I’m Playing the Blues” to Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” and, even, Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem “I Will Survive,” everything swings with the rawness and authenticity of said lexicon.

Musicianship: From the first downbeat it is glaringly obvious that this is a road-tested band, with a strong teamwork aesthetic. Canas is not only a great leader but a superb singer and lead guitarist. His blend of jazz and blues licks combined with smooth rhythms and a stellar tone is unparalleled. Cottingham handles lead and backing vocals with balanced grace and gives the group’s front line a one-two punch. Nordman provides a gospel-like underpinning, with piano and organ comps and swells that give each tune melodic heft. The same can be said for the dynamic duo of bassist Washington and drummer Scott. They can fully support any kind of groove, with a robust thump that fills the room.

Performance: Canas is a consummate entertainer and he brought that skill to the table in abundance. The room shook with the energy of a Sunday morning church service where the leader urged everyone to turn to someone they didn’t know and say, “Hey!” This band played to a packed house and had everyone on their feet from the very first note. The band’s ability to segue and transition from one song to the next kept the party flowing. Highlights included Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues For You,” B.B. King’s souped-up “Rock Me Baby” and a seemingly endless medley of guitar and keyboard-inspired jams.

Summary: The Chris Canas Band seems to play for the crowd and tailors their sets to truly capture and satisfy an audience. They can move you on the dance floor one minute, and then cast you into a pseudo-psychedelic jam-induced trance the next. This band is expanding the language of the blues, with a fresh perspective that is contemporary and uplifting.

Contact: [email protected]
Web: chriscanas.net
Players: Chris Canas, lead vocals, guitars; Angela Cottingham, vocals and percussion; Chris Nordman, keyboards; Derek Washington, bass; Michael Scott, drums