You may not think you know The Healers but this ad hoc blues sextet boasts some big name soloists and sidemen whose accomplishments are familiar to millions.
The most famous name of the bunch is Reese Winans, keyboard man for Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. He is joined by Jimmy Hall, a sideman and bandleader whose innumerable credits have kept him in the studio and on the road for decades, Kate Moss, wife of award-winning blues master Nick Moss and one hell of a guitarist in her own right as she has proved in jam sessions with Buddy Guy, Ana Popovich, Samantha Fish, among others over the years. The aforementioned Ms. Fish is an up-and-comer whose album Runaway won the Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut. Rounding out the band is the rhythm section of Trampled Under Foot, Danielle and Kris Schnebelen.
On November 11, 2012, The Healers played only their second show together, joining forces to raise money for an amazing non-profit organization, BlueStarConnection at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, home turf for Fish. They filmed the show and released it as a live CD/DVD set and it's a damn good thing they did!
The set is comprised primarily of covers as one might expect from a disparate group of musicians jamming together but their taste in material is excellent as are their interpretations. Muddy Waters' "Rollin' & Tumblin'" has been played God knows how many times by blues contemporaries and rock and rollers who later discovered it but Samantha Fish finds a way to bring something to it missing in most versions I've ever heard: sensuality. There's a beautifully oppressive humidity in her vocal and smoldering solos from Moss on guitar and Hall on harp.
The Healers also took on a pair of Freddie King tunes. Moss' nimble lead is the centerpiece of their take on the famous instrumental "San-Ho-Zay." Hall does his best to steal the spotlight blowing some mean saxophone but it's Moss' guitarwork that makes the moment. Hall shows off his great vocal work throughout and is particularly strong on "Going Down," punctuated by Winans' piano. Little Milton's "Grits Ain't Groceries" is another highlight and this one is again a showcase for the soulful vocals of Hall and some snarling, gritty lead guitar from Fish.
The six musicians on stage trade lead vocals and solos throughout the evening, each getting multiple moments in the spotlight and on "This Is A Man's World," the entire band gets one. Danielle Schnebelen gets her first lead vocal of the evening with Hall swapping verses with her. Winans' organ work is sacred and profane, Hall again blows some sweet sax, and Fish provides warmth and fury through her guitar.
Samantha Fish was born to sing the classic "I Put A Spell On You" (one of two bonus tracks on the DVD) and I hope she plays this nightly when she's out on tour on her own. If not, she should. Her vocal sizzles and simmers and I wish like hell there'd been room to squeeze this on the CD. No matter, it's here and you'll love it.
The stars aligned on this night at Knuckleheads when great musicians made great music for a great cause. The stars have now aligned for you because you can bring home great music and support that same great cause. Bruce Springsteen once said, "Nobody wins unless everybody wins." Purchasing The Healers' Live At Knuckleheads does just that.