2012By Phillip Smith; Jan 10, 2015
Live at the Hub, recorded at The Hub, in Cedar Falls, IA is energetic, bluesy and captivating. Within a two hour time frame, I have gone from not really knowing who Hamilton Loomis is, to being a brand new fan. This DVD is very nicely produced and indeed captures the energy and playful vibe of the actual live performance. The band is composed of Loomis (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Kent Beatty on bass guitar, Stratton Doyle holding down the sax and keyboards, and Ryan Cortez who keeps a funky and steady beat on the drums. Intertwined between songs, are little documentary pieces of Loomis filling us in on the band’s beginnings, influences, and generally what makes it tick. I liked these little windows into the band’s soul. It’s in these little pieces where Loomis talks about opening for blues icon, Bo Diddley and generously being taken in under his wing.
Loomis’s mastery of the guitar and soulful vocals is well-complimented by his hip and youthful presence on stage. The first song on the set list, “Best Worst Day” sets the tone for the rest of the show. It’s funkdafied blues. Doyle’s saxophone adds lushness to the sound. The camaraderie between Loomis and Doyle reminds me a little of the camaraderie exhibited at a live Phish show between Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon. I definitely did a proverbial double-take during “Working Real Hard”, when Loomis and the band segue into Master Blaster (Jammin’) by Stevie Wonder. They keep the funk rolling with ‘Stuck in a Rut’, singing, “I was stuck in a rut, but now I’m in a groove.” Full of the good kind of positive energy, this song reminds me a bit of Tower of Power.
His Texas blues influences kick in on “Voodoo Doll”, where he knocks an ‘over the wall’ homerun all while just ‘having some fun’ with Doyle on sax. After one quick round of rock paper scissors, the two being exchanging licks, or as some people call it, “cutting heads”. Bouncing back and forth trying to stump each other in a fascinating display, they roll through song samples such as ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, ‘Brass Monkey’, ‘Billie Jean’, and ‘All Right Now’, culminating in an over-the-top full on attack finish.
With Loomis being a protégé of Bo Diddley, you have to figure there is going to be at least a couple of tracks honoring him. If you figured that, you’d be correct. Breaking out his red Gretsch Bo Diddley signature guitar, Loomis covers ‘Road Runner‘ which is immediately followed by ‘Who Do You Love?’. The guitar was a gift from Bo Diddley which makes these tracks even more special. Since Doyle is playing keyboards on this track, his saxophone is available for other things, such as taking on the role of the largest slide I have ever seen used on a guitar. With the Bo Diddley guitar in one hand and saxophone in the other, Loomis slides the horn across the neck as he picks out the tune with the other, and afterward, tosses the sax back to Doyle who is still playing keyboards.
Live at The Hub is delightful from start to finish. These guys are the real deal musically, and cannot be accused of lacking in showmanship