Robert Cray at The Parker Play House
By Don Valentine
Living Blues legend Robert Cray graced South Florida last Thursday. If you have never been to the Parker Play House just off of Sunrise by the War Memorial Auditorium, you are missing out on a boutique venue.
Mr. Cray sold out the plush 1,200 seat auditorium. He is touring the country celebrating 40 years of mesmerizing audiences with his Blues guitar play.
The show surprisingly started promptly at 7:30. I have seen over 70 shows dating back to the Budweiser Super-Fest shows back in the day and they never start on time.
Shemekia Copeland the “Queen of Blues” opened with a 60 minute set. Her dad the Texas Blues Man Johnny Clyde Copeland used to play with Cray dating back to the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival.
Shemekia has a set of pipes on her that are out of this world. If she did not have such a strong voice she could have been a standup comic. Between each song and an extremely long drum malfunction she cracked the crowd up with stories from her life. When she did her finale she showed off her “chops” by doing an a cappella exhibition that even the back row could enjoy. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called her “One of the most polished Blues and Soul singers out today”.
15 time Grammy nominated, five time winner, Robert Cray came out to a thunderous applause. His fans really appreciated this blues icon. Cray has played with his close friend Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Lee Hooker to name a few. He played guitar with Hooker on the award winning song “Boom-Boom”. Interesting story about how he got his launch into blues music. He convinced his high school class to book blues artist Albert Collins for their graduation party. This meeting turned out to be serendipitous, as Mr. Collins booked his band to back him on his west coast tour. The rest turned out to be music history. The list of artist that have been nominated 15 times for Grammy awards is not over crowded.
Cray played almost all the songs from his new CD “In My Soul”. The crowd was familiar with all the hits. His bohemian, hippy flavored song What Would You Say was the favorite. 1986 Grammy award winning Strong Persuader blew everybody away. Great performance from a Blues legend.