Sandler Center for the Arts
Virginia Beach, VA
Writer/Photographer: Mark Robbins
Robert Cray at the Sandler Center for the Arts The Blues is His Business and Business is Good (to paraphrase Etta James). For 40 years Robert Cray has followed the same trusted formula, let the songs do the talking. So when he hit the stage Friday night at the Sandler Center he let his guitar and song lyrics do all the talking. No histrionics or gimmicks, just pure blues. Backed by longtime band mates Richard Cousins (bass), Les Falconer (drums, vocals) and Dover Weinberg (keyboards) the band jumped right into “Chicken in the Kitchen” followed by “Because of Me” and more songs of lost love and sorrow. Taking liberally from 20 some albums the evening offered no surprises which suited the audience just fine.
Over the years Cray’s fans have come to expect masterful guitar playing and song interpretation and that’s just what they got. Cray is not only a great player and singer but his writing chops rank with the best. His “Strong Persuader” had fans dancing at their seats. Don’t think blues is the only trick in his bag, the funky “Phone Booth” or soulful “You Move Me” showed the versatility of this musician.
Cray may not be as flashy as some of the new blues players, but that’s okay. He shows up on stage prepared to entertain his audience with what they came for, the blues at it’s best. The 90 minute set (including encores “The Forecast Calls for Pain”, “Time Makes Two”) went by way too fast but the near capacity crowd left knowing that when they heard the words “like this” before each song they were treated to a few minutes of magic.”