Charlie & the Nightcats
Main events at
Historic Ashland Armory
208 Oak St., Ashland
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Doors open for dinner 6PM
Music begins 6:30PM
of the hardest-working barroom blues bands on the West Coast,
Little Charlie & the Nightcats started out in the mid-'70s,
recording around a decade later, and just kept on going strong.
constants over the Nightcats' long history were co-founders Little
Charlie Baty (guitar) and Rick Estrin (harmonica, lead vocals).
biting licks were the perfect complement to Estrin's devil-may-care
swagger and wryly humorous, storytelling lyrics, and that combo
enough to maintain a decades-long career as a popular live act
across the blues circuit. The band's music relies chiefly on
urban blues of the Chicago variety, but mixes in bits of many
compatible styles, including early rock & roll, soul, surf,
blues, and Western swing.
Charlie Baty was attending U.C.-Berkeley and studying mathematics
he formed Little Charlie & the Nightcats with Rick Estrin
Initially, both of them were harmonica players and singers, but
happened to play guitar as well, and he made the switch permanently
Estrin established himself as the stronger of the two. Joined
Jay Paterson and drummer Dobie Strange, the band moved to Sacramento
made a living playing the local blues clubs. Eventually, they
demo tape to the prominent blues label Alligator, and despite
unsolicited nature of their submission, Alligator immediately
them after catching their live act. After just over a decade
existence, Little Charlie & the Nightcats issued their debut
The Way Crazy, in 1987. The record helped establish them on the
festival and club circuits, and they began touring the country
extensively, playing a number of international venues as well.
Follow-ups Disturbing The Peace (1988) and The
Big Break (1989)
consolidated their status, and the gigs poured in.
In 1990, the group had their first personnel change; Peterson
departed and was replaced by Brad Lee Sexton, who debuted on the 1991 concert
set Captured Live. 1993's Night Vision featured "My Next Ex-Wife," a
witty blues-rocker that won Estrin a W.C. Handy Award for Song of the Year,
highlighting his steadily growing reputation for songwriting prowess. Estrin's
material was soon being covered by artists like Koko Taylor and Robert Cray.
Sexton left in 1994, and Ronnie James Weber joined up as the band's third bassist,
debuting the following year on Straight Up. Original drummer Dobie Strange
left in 1996 after 20 years with the group, and his spot was taken by June
Core. Core debuted on 1998's Shadow of the Blues, and that year the group also
backed John Hammond, Jr. on his album Long As I Have You. Little Charlie & the
Nightcats returned in 2002 with a new album, That's Big, and a new rhythm section,
bassist Frankie Randall and drummer Joey Ventittelli. Nine Lives, released
in 2005, saw yet another rhythm section, this time with J. Hansen on drums
and Lorenzo Farrell on bass.