Nestled in an urban center in Hartford is Infinity Music Hall. Easier to reach than you might think with reasonable parking attached.
Friday the Heritage Blues Orchestra (Quintet) was appearing. The term Quintet was used because the “brass” part of the Orchestra was not at this performance. Lead by Bill Sims Jr., this is a talented group offering a blues show that has the full blues bloodline, including work songs, hollers, gospel, and some fun.
Bill’s daughter Chaney welcomed the audience and set the stage for the band’s performance. She immediately struck up a rapport with the audience.
Chaney who does vocals and handclaps introduced the band:
Bill Sims, Jr. – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, handclaps, piano
Junior Mack – vocals, electric and electric slide guitars, dobro
Vincent Bucher harmonica
Barry Harrison drums
During the course of the show each band member had a chance to shine.
Chaney’s vocals were even better than advertised; she had me after the second note. She put heart, soul, and a lot of emotion in her performance. Her always present smile didn’t hurt either. At the same time, she put the crowd at ease and drew them into the show. When she sang St James Infirmary audience members stood and clapped.
Bill’s addition of the handclapping and body slapping (turning the body into an instrument) put the history into action, the history the show was imparting. I couldn’t help but think how professorial Bill looked. Maybe it was the bow-tie or the gray in the beard. It did not matter he made the learning fun. He did get a reaction when he introduced the song “Big Legged Woman.”
At one point the stage was cleared leaving Junior Mack to solo. Junior also took us to Clarksdale and Jolliet. People make the guitar talk, Junior made it a toastmaster. It was talking to each one of us.
Vincent has to be one of the most active harmonica players. Always in motion.
Barry was strong and timely when it was his turn to dominate.
The Band waved good-bye to the audience and went to the lobby to meet fans, autograph CDs and end the evening.