Robert Cray - vocals, guitar; Richard Cousins - bass; Peter Boe - keyboards; David Olson - drums
This show was recorded at an outdoor music festival in Austin, Texas that featured The Fabulous Thunderbirds as headliners, and included guest appearances by Bonnie Raitt, Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. Cray was riding high off the success of his previous year's Strong Persuader breakthrough album. That album - and its FM radio hit "Smoking Gun" - earned Cray a Grammy Award and made him one of the most highly demanded contemporary blues acts on the scene.
This show features the best tracks from Strong Persuader, in addition to material that would appear on his next release, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Cray, an educated, well dressed guitarist, is an artist many music fans would hardly expect to have the makings of a successful blues musician. After all, you have to suffer to play the blues, and Cray does not appear to have come from a life of hardship or heartache. Still, he plays and sings with total conviction, and his modern blues songs lean towards the traditional soul music of the classic 1960s and '70s Stax-Volt sound.
Cray always shares the spotlight with his band, and at the Austin festival keyboardist Peter Boe has several stand-out solos behind Cray's funky guitar fills and lead work. Highlights of this show include "Phone Booth," "Playin' In The Dirt," "Bad Influence," "The Last Time (I Get Burned Like That)" and "Smoking Gun" - the last of which brought down the house.
Cray never again received the kind of success he had enjoyed during this initial period is his career. He continued to record for MCA for the next few years, before moving over to the Rykodisc label where he made two more albums. He is currently signed to Sanctuary Records and continues to tour, though his current interests seem to lean more towards traditional soul music.
Whether in his early prime or contemporary maturity, however, Cray always makes for a great listen - a consummate musician with strong songwriting skills and an always authentic style.