Pinetop Perkins spent the bulk of his career playing in bands, and this 1995 live set, recorded at the 20th anniversary of Antone's in Austin, TX, the month he turned 82, is very much a band album. Perkins sings in a creaky, breathy voice and plays piano in his trademark barrelhouse style, but his accompaniment, consisting of regular bassist Calvin Jones and drummer Willie Smith, plus guests Kim Wilson on harmonica, Rusty Zinn on guitar, and Mark Kazanoff on tenor sax, makes the show a group effort in which the nominal sidemen get extensive solo time. Wilson especially makes his presence felt with long improvisations, though Kazanoff and Zinn are also heard from frequently. Perkins gets his share of playing time, too, particularly on the slow blues "I Almost Lost My Mind" and Jimmy Smith's "Chicken Shack," but anyone looking for a Perkins piano album should look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want to hear a hot, Chicago-style blues band playing Muddy Waters favorites like "Got My Mojo Working" and "Hoochie Coochie Man," songs Perkins had occasion to familiarize himself with as a member of Waters' band, this excellent live album will fill the bill.
Live at Antone's, Vol. 1
(Digital Download - New West / Texas Music Group #ANT 2504AD)
Review by William Ruhlmann