Listen Up: Wednesday, May 8, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Nick Curran and the Nitelifes

Doctor Velvet (Blind Pig Records)

Does it seem funny to anyone else that these days the Dallas blues scene has more than its share of émigrés? Lessee ... there’s Pat Boyack from Utah, Hash Brown from Connecticut, and Smokin’ Joe Kubek from Pennsylvania, for starters. Christian Dozzler’s from Austria, for Pete’s sake. Could it be that Big D’s mojo is so strong that it attracts the blues faithful from all over the globe, or is it just that the demographics of the whole area are changing?

Anyhow, Nick Curran, born and bred in Portland, Me., is another one. While he might look like some kind of Rocky Horror Show space alien — pompadour, shades, goatee — he plays blues and rockabilly like a ’50s roadhouse throwback and writes original tunes in the classic manner. A big-voiced singer and well-schooled guitarist, he’s got more tricks in his trick bag than yer average Texas bluesician. And with Doctor Velvet, he’s made one rollicking, party-time funfest of a c.d.

Cut live in the studio for that vintage feel, Doctor Velvet covers a lot of stylistic bases. Curran’s special forte is hard-swinging horn-driven jump blues, and examples of the style abound, from the title track to Nappy Brown’s “Don’t Be Angry” to Curran’s own “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” and “Beautiful Girl.” His versions of Freddie King’s “Lonesome Whistle Blues” and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Midnite Hour” display his mastery of the Texas shuffle, while his original “Please Don’t Leave Me” neatly replicates the Excello Records Louisiana swamp pop sound. In a blindfold test, “Drivin’ Me Crazy” could easily pass for an early blues chart. Only record geeks would care that the screaming Little Richard-esque rock ’n’ roll tune “Shot Down” was originally by Seattle garage maniacs the Sonics.

Still, not bad for a transplanted Yankee.



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