Blues That Swings, But “Kicks A Little More Ass”
Singer, harmonica player, songwriter, and frontman — Rick Estrin wears plenty of hats leading Rick Estrin & The Nightcats down the ever-bumpier blues road.
Estrin, who inherited the Nightcats when former band namesake Little Charlie Baty retired in 2008 after 30 years and nine albums, has breathed new life into the band. His first move was replacing Baty with guitarist Chris “Kid” Anderson, and giving the band a “more youthful sound,” which includes the freedom to rock harder and funkier over the traditional blues and jump blues numbers that dominate the band’s catalog. Add this to Estrin’s soulful, at times gritty, vocals and traditional-to-wailing harp playing, and the results are highly favorable on the charged-up One Wrong Turn, the group’s latest release.
Estrin’s career as a bluesman began in the late-1960s and included stints with numerous artists before setting out for the then-blues capital, Chicago. There, Estrin almost landed a job with Muddy Waters, but ultimately returned to San Francisco and connected with Baty, forming Little Charlie & The Nightcats.
Estrin was on the road in Iowa “driving past dilapidated corn fields” when Up on the Sun dialed up the band leader. Happy for the diversion, Estrin discussed that missed connection with Waters, taking over the band from Baty, and how humor plays a large role in his songwriting.