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BEST BLUES BAND Minneapolis 2002 - Obeda's Butanes

Readers' Choice: Jonny Lang

Over the years, guitarist Curt Obeda has exemplified the axiom that when it comes to the blues, if you can retain your passion and enough of your health, the older you get, the better you play. Reared in Chicago, Obeda started out aping the West Side and South Side styles of Windy City blues cats--not a bad foundation. But he has steadily incorporated Memphis and Chicago soul and the greasy syncopation of New Orleans into his ax attack. More judicious and rhythm-oriented than he used to be, he's arrived at a satisfying balance between tasty licks and pyrotechnical polish. Obeda's Butanes sometimes work as a trio (with drummer Robb Stupka and bassist John Lindberg)or quartet (adding keyboardist Virgil Nelson) or with a horn section. They've backed up vocalist Wee Willie Walker (the original Willie in Willie and the Bees) and have gigged and toured internationally with the great Earl King from New Orleans for the past 12 years. Locally, you can catch them at Neumann's Bar in North St. Paul, or over at Famous Dave's in Uptown. The set list is a delightful mix of Obeda originals and relatively obscure covers by Earl King, Clarence Carter, and Johnny Taylor, along with some Chicago standards. The essence is rich, savory, blackened blues.

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