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Sound Stage

Keepin’ the Pace

5/22/2013

Any enlightened and humble musician — regardless of age or background — must at some point come to acknowledge that no matter what genre he or she claims, there is something left to learn from the blues. My hope is that the appreciation doesn’t fade with the older generation that tends to frequent the Gas Lamp for its Friday Work Release with Bob Pace and Dangerous Band.

Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band performing the Gas Lamp’s Friday Work Release show, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band performing the Gas Lamp’s Friday Work Release show, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Pace is a musician’s musician, the kind of picker that other talents envy, and rightfully so. It’s no wonder the Gas Lamp’s Friday night happy hour draws a wall-to-wall crowd of energy — the kind of enthusiastic audience that you’d usually find with the nine o’clock headliners when the woo-hoo women are good and toasted. But at six o’clock on a Friday, it wasn’t the spirits in the glass that got the crowd on their feet. It was the spirits on stage.

Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band delivers everything you’d expect from a typical blues band, nailing the standard covers such as “Groove Me,” “Baby, I Need Your Loving” and the blues staple “Play That Funky Music” like old pros. But the band is anything but ordinary. Each is a master of his instrument, even as they change roles depending on the tune. The drum kit is occupied by George “Bishop” McCutchen, who turns the sticks over to an extraordinarily talented “guest” who is more accurately deemed “friend of the band,” so he can wail on the mic for a bit — a brave move by Bishop, because it’s hard to choose a favorite drummer between the two. The second of two keyboard players, Nathan Peoples, also doubles on the sax with a subtle sexiness only an otherwise shy guy could pull off. Tom Murphy manages to keep a serious beat even though he can’t keep a serious face, with time-changing nods and smiles of approval to guest keyboardist Neil Stoffregren, who more regularly assists with the raucous rock-n-roll musings of powerhouse Bonne Finken. And Pace is the perfect leader for the rest to follow, playing key climatic moments one-handed on the fret board while the axe is raised high above his head like an extension of his forearm — as if he owes it all to the Fender Stratocaster.

“If I offended anyone out there of the female persuasion, it was purely by accident,” he told the crowd after a sensual Peter Frampton-like guitar-speak to the ladies in the front row.

They didn’t mind. CV

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