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By William Brents
"Lord, look at all these people," said a bemused Jon McGee, vocalist and guitarist for Taildragger. It wasn't an understatement; the Butchertown Pub was busting at the seams on this November 11 Friday night. One could barely move, let alone breathe, back in the courtyard where Taildragger, a young bluesy rock band, was performing.
Joining McGee was bassist Mark Hendricks and drummer Rob Hulsman. This trio is Taildragger, but Christmas seemed to have come early with not one but two musical gifts in the form of Kentucky Headhunters guitarist Greg Martin and harmonica master Jim Rosen of the Mudcat Blues Band.
The band roamed and roared through the electric power blues genre, churning out gutsy covers and likeable originals. A rockedup version of Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen" was amazing and set the tone for one of Martin's torrid leads. Arguably, "Little Red Rooster" was the highlight of the set. Martin and McGee treated us to a tasty extended slide guitar duel, putting a spin on the Willie Dixon classic.
Anyone who is a casual local music fan knows the reputation of Jim Rosen as the premier blues harmonica player in town. And he only solidified that status on this night as he single-handedly saved several songs from being ho-hum filler. Rosen has the ability to make an average song good and a good song great by applying various styles and heart-on-sleeve attitude. On stage, Rosen is confident, cool and loose, be it slugging down a whiskey, sliding through a solo or howling like a hound dog. Whatever the moment needs, Rosen naturally will oblige.
HeadHunter Martin gleefully hammed it up by playing the riff to "Achy Breaky Heart" and shaking his tush just like you-know-who. "I better stop before Jim walks off stage," said Martin.
The super-charged set was sparked by solid musicianship and laced with a mellow atmosphere. McGee's vocals were clean and crafty and the rhythm section of Hendricks and Hulsman didn't let up.
Better than an average Friday night? You bet your sweet Taildragger it was.