Bar Room Blues

Sitting in the White Eagle Saloon on this early September night last year was like taking a step back into time; Pete Karnes was back in town. Back in the day, so many years ago, he ruled the blues world in Portland and was pretty much the house band for this nostalgic music venue. Here he was returning to the venue where he made a name for himself some thirty years later and sounding every bit as strong and bluesy as ever. Karnes of course falls into that mode that traditional blues stemming from places like Chicago and Texas are the authentic real deal. And of course when you’ve worked with and been friends with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Big Walter Horton, Willie Dixon, Robert Lockwood Jr, Charlie Musselwhite, and JB Hutto (to name but a few), who are we to argue?

Coming to Portland found him reuniting with several of his surviving band members from back in time, alongside his current Florida-based outfit. The song selections stemmed from old chestnuts that were regular staples in Karnes original repertoire with bits and pieces from his most current (and third) studio release under his the Pete Karnes Blues Band name, I’m Still Here. Most are well-known covers such as “I’m Ready,” “Little By Little” and “Mama Talk To Your Daughter.” There are also those fun covers not heard too often by current bands like “Play With Your Poodle” and “My Last Meal.” But he also takes on his original music with his song for his late wife “Rayma’s Song” and a little Latin fare with “South Of The Border” (think of Big Walter doing “La Cucaracha and you’ll have a good idea — in fact Karnes claims to have taught Walter that number).

Being at this show felt like a flashback. Karnes voice sounds and harmonica playing is as brilliant as ever and film man David Jack Jester had set the room up just right to capture the music nicely. It sounds so much like the old band once did that you can compare it with his last release Live At The White Eagle 1982 and it would be hard to pick one over the other, save for the better sound quality nowadays.

Yes, Pete Karnes still knows the blues and how to do it well. Bar Room Blues is testament to that.

Total Time: 77:40

I’m Ready / How Did We Let It Go This Far / Help Me / Rayma’s Song / Boogie All Night / Framed / Play With Your Poodle / Chicken Shack / Ain’t Nobody’s Business / All Your Love I Miss Lovin’ / Mama Talk To Your Daughter / South Of The Border / My Last Meal / Back Door Man / Little By Little