Chris Stovall Brown set the Wantu Blues Jam on fire

Chris Stovall Brown graced the Wantu Blues Jam last Sunday afternoon. Brown treated the audience to his hefty bluesy harmonica work, his belty, husky vocal approach, and his frenetic, over the top guitar techniques. Brown was the latest weekly feature at the Sunday afternoon blues jam at the Village Trestle in Goffstown, New Hampshire.
Known for his guitar work, the Boston musician took the time to showcase many of his numerous talents. Brown was blowing harp as well as he does anything else when I arrived. His thick, feisty melody made for a potent instrumental jam. A tricky ending to one piece found Brown pausing the house band to blow a solo phrase, call the house band back in to play with them, then pause them to solo again, all in quick timing, without ever missing his stride. The house band would jump back in as if the never paused. Perfect.
Brown was an impressive vocalist too, but he seemed to enjoy picking up his harp to blow a lively, jaunty melodic phrase. His phrases could go low, loud, and expansive one moment, high and pretty the next. House band members were guitarist Jerry Basnar, drummer Rick King, bassist Dave Guilmette, and guitarist Chris Noyes.
Unfettered from his guitar and harmonica, Stovall made for quite a front man. He belted the blues like the best of them. He sounded especially good over the low down groove from King and Guilmette. Basnar played the six string here, pressing out a rangy, sweet take on a Mississippi Delta phrase. Then, Basnar got more assertive, grinding out some more screamy, badass lines.
Noyes soon came in with a tasty, deep-fried blues phrase of his own. His line seemed to pulsate with sweet, high overtones, as if each note he picked carried a whole scale with it, sounding almost as if he was accompanying himself.
Back at the harmonica, Brown blew some of his hard-driving style blues, twisty intervals making a wild Chicago sound. When Brown strapped on his guitar, it was a foreshadowing of the explosive blues power that was about to come. “Big Legged Woman” gave Brown a chance to play some mean chords before ripping into a crunchy melodic phrase then a screaming tortured soul guitar line. He even played his Telecaster behind his back for much of this.
The next set featured a charming lady named Jean Vaillancourt playing some country-rock material. Vaillancourt played a 12 string acoustic guitar that allowed her to conjure a wholesome nest of chords, giving her country songs the kind of warmth that country songs need. “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’” were her best numbers.
After the country lady, the house band reformed with Bob Pratte on drums. They played “One Way Out” with Jerry Ray Basnar handling the lead guitar and Chris Noyes playing some choice slide notes. That oh so familiar groove just worked so right, even though we’ve all heard this song done a bunch of times over. Later on, Basnar took the spotlight with his clean, incisive lines that made it sound like his guitar was singing. Noyes was, by that point, belting out soulfully. Slower songs found Noyes caressing notes out of his axe, keeping them moving with a persistent emotive flow. Basnar sang lead vocals on “Sweet Home Chicago” while Noyes added plenty of nice touches, conjuring up that windy city guitar line.
Young harmonica player Joel Latulippe(a.k.a. Little Harpo) opened a set with the advanced and adept skills on the instrument that has made him a household name in New Hampshire blues circles. His notes went whistling out like the greatest of ease. Latulippe’s brother Jake was on guitar during this set, and he played some cool rockabilly riffs when it was his turn to let loose.
Noyes sang “Sugar Coated Blues” over the steady thumping of Guilmette and King while Noyes’s slide work sounded really sweet next to the whistling harp notes. Little Harpo blew his harp through one of those old-fashioned looking harp microphones to give it more electric gravitas. Bass player Earl Rinker, from the band Ten More Miles, was up there for some of these sets and he played a smooth, flowing bass style each number.
Stovall Brown came back up to play some instrumental dual guitar magic with Manchester’s old hand Scot Gibbs. The two played lively, sprightly shards of phrases that had the unstoppable bouncing energy of Mexican jumping beans, notes bursting little sparks of energy.
He sang “Mountain Of Love” by Harold Dorman and recorded by the likes of Johnny Rivers and Charlie Pride. Dave Glannon came up to play his harmonica in a support mode while Stovall eventually put out an edgier, more piercing guitar line during the break.
Bill Ingalls came up to play his bass guitar and sing lead vocals on “I’m A Man” By Steve Winwood and Jimmy Miller and eventually turned into a monster radio hit by Chicago. As usual, the Ingalls moment was another show stopper, a big, hurricane force number, with Glannon burning things up with a more fiery harp display, and Scot Gibbs firing off bristling guitar lines.
Ingalls got to show off more of his R&B side singing an uptempo version of “Feelin’ All Right,” bringing out a deeper, more soulful feeling. Speaking of voices, Amberly Gibbs, who usually fronts Common Knowledge with Ingalls and her husband Scot Gibbs, came up to do her thang on a few numbers. She got down and dirty on the Aretha Franklin classic “Chain Of Fools,” assertive and in control during Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep,” and funky as hell on The Temptations’ “Shaky Ground.”
Bass player and singer Ray Soucy came up to do lead vocals on one tune and to back Jerry Ray Basnar on the grand finale Jimi Hendrix number “Voodoo Chile.” That was a huge, involved, and wild number to finish out with, many wild instrumental phrases with sonic power unfurling from a mountainous groove.
It was another fun, fantastic Sunday afternoon with the Wantu Blues Jams at the Village Trestle at 25 Main Street in Goffstown, New Hampshire.
The jam, hosted and wired by “Slutty Pete” Zona, runs from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. every Sunday, in case any of you Massachusetts and Rhode Island blues players and singers would like to stop by after a skiing excursion into the Granite State. Heck, take a nice Sunday drive up from your cities to check out how blues is done small town style.
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