Vanessa Collier

Live Review: Vanessa Collier at Big Momma's Rib Shack in Pasadena, CA

Material: Vanessa Collier is a unique contemporary artist belting out the blues like no other. The tunes are suggestive of old and weary blues progressions that are ingrained in our minds but are miraculously brought back to life with the help of a saxophone and some great accompaniment. The songs are mostly toe-tapping upbeat tunes like “Love Me Like A Man,” but even the slower ones are incredibly uplifting as Collier played a two-hour nonstop show that had the crowd squirming in their seats wanting to dance.

Musicianship: Incredible musicians backed Collier, who is no slouch when it comes to performing in front of a crowd. The rhythm section was at first a bit off but when they shook off the cobwebs they made the show happen in a big way. Just as impressive was Solomon as he started the show off with a juicy guitar solo in “Whiskey and Women” that, when he was done, had everyone else trying to squeeze the juiciness out of their own instruments. The song turned into an all-out jam session as Daspit and Stevens joined in the festivities to show off just enough to get everyone’s attention all the while letting Collier frost the cake with her vocals and sax combination.

Performance: The performance was superb as great audience interaction kept things very interesting. Kudos to the sound guy who had the sound dialed in from the very beginning, and that in turn let the musicians do their “thang.” And they really did do it; “their thang” was off-the-chain entertaining and enjoyable as the saxophone, the most distinctive element in this band, kept things really clean and fresh. Exceptional soloing from all the other members kept things bright and alive as Collier danced around the stage and smiled at the audience. There aren’t too many female-fronted sax blues bands around and that made the whole performance fresh and engaging.

Summary: Vanessa Collier is a superb saxophone player and frontwoman playing upbeat tunes with a very strong blues band. They layer their songs ever so sweetly with guitar, keys and sax and they ice each and every song with superb vocals. Collier tells her story with the help of her friends and she tells it good. The little things are what made this a great evening of music, just like her story in “Sweatin’ Like A Pig, Singin’ like An Angel” where she tells of her time in Louisiana in the middle of summer one year and having to do a show. “Percolatin’” summed up the night right—very colorful songs with beautiful saxophone, guitar and keyboard riffs sitting pretty atop a great rhythm section. Vanessa Collier treated us all to a very entertaining evening.

Contact: [email protected]

Web: VanessaCollier.com

Players: Vanessa Collier, sax/vocals; C.C. Ellis, bass; Nick Stevens, drums; Josh Solomon, guitar; Matt Daspit, keyboard