I love a tight blues band, which is why I found myself at Bradenton's Cigar Bar Friday night on Old Main listening to the Alternator Blues Band.
I love being so close to the bass player that the big head stock on his Fender Jazz Bass almost brushes against me.
I love a lead guitarist whose Paul Reed Smith electric is playing so fine channeled through a hopped up Princeton amp that he doesn't even think about the 1961 Gibson SG in the stand beside him.
I love it when the Haitian keyboard player gets in a groove on "Stormy Monday'' and leans over those keys like he's Charlie Brown at the piano.
I love it when my friend Tom sits at the drums and plays the kit straight and easy, holding it all together, even though he could be a wild drummer in savage rock and roll band, which he once was.
And I love it when the sax player shows up, even though he looks like a kid who might be blowing his curfew.
If you're ever in or around Bradenton, Fla., you need to check out this band. They played a rousing first set last night, opening with Big Bill Broonzy's "Key to the Highway'' before torching the place with a barrage of standards including "The Blues Is My Business'', "The House is Rockin''' and "Messin' With the Kid.''
An hour and few beers later I stumbled out on Old Main wondering what had hit me. I looked back into the bar, listened to the chatter of patrons and watched the smoke rising in the room. And I knew.
The blues had hit me, and hit me good.