Livestream • Widecast Studios Peoria, IL
Material: Stevens takes the listener on a musical journey through the decades. His choice of covers and originals is based in the blues. But he also throws in a healthy dose of classic rock and pop as well. A typical set consists of an impressive array of covers such as Buddy Guy and Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With the Kid,” Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind” and Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Original songs like the jazzy, Latin grooving “Living for the Moment,” the funky upbeat “Why I Wonder” and the traditional and rootsy “Sunrise Blues” are equally strong.
Musicianship: Stevens uses a streamlined setup of acoustic guitar and a small combo amp. He is a student of Eric Clapton, Freddie King and Carlos Santana and these artists figure prominently in his lead work. He is also quite adept at utilizing a looping system for rhythms and counter melodies to effectively give certain songs additional depth and fullness. He has a very nuanced and ornamental way in which he performs elaborate intros to a number of songs. He seems to arrange and rearrange on the spot, giving the set list a fresh and spontaneous feel.
Performance: The livestream originated from the Peoria Live TV show set. And any proceeds contributed to Stevens’ performance benefitted the “Make-A-Wish” foundation. The hour-long set was fairly brisk and Stevens shared little asides and stories that linked songs together. A number of tunes were notable; namely his rough and tumble take on T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” a rocking version of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee’s “Outside Woman Blues” and his slow and sensual cover of the standard “Summer time.”
There were a couple moments where Stevens would take pause to switch looping programs for specific songs, but he’d always maintain a dialogue with the viewing audience and keep it rolling. Toward the latter portion of the show he added some tender moments, with a unique take on the Beatles’ “Yesterday” and a heartfelt dedication to the “Make-A-Wish” beneficiaries, with Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Summary: Chris Stevens is a blues man at heart, and he injects that passion and soulful spirit into whatever material he is doing. His comprehensive set list is impressive and many of his original songs figure prominently in that mix.