Rick Estrin is a little aggravated, running late in his preparations for a quick trip to Brazil to play a music festival before returning to the States to promote You Asked for It…Live! (Alligator), his new album with his group Rick Estrin & The Nightcats.
It’s the band’s first live album, though he recorded a live album for Alligator during the 10-album run of its predecessor, the Charlie Baty-led Little Charlie & The Nightcats, in which he also sang, wrote and played monster blues harmonica.
“If I wasn’t lazy I wouldn’t be a harmonica player!” Estrin laments, then switches to a more pleasant topic.
“Two reasons why I like the new album,” he says. “You always hear people saying in these articles how ‘this is our best album,’ and I always thought, ‘That’s full of s**t!’ But I thought our last studio album [One Wrong Turn from 2012] really was the best I ever felt in the studio--but it’s still not like some gigs that really are the best because of the audience, or just one of those nights where everything’s really clicking.”
“Besides that this is a great live band, the other thing is that I had all these songs from the Little Charlie days, that I wrote a long time ago that we still do and are still popular, like ‘My Next Ex-Wife’ and ‘Dump that Chump.’ People ask for them, and we’ve got to do them--but most of them, I’m okay with. I’m lucky in that respect: It takes me a long time to get sick of my own s**t!”
Estrin also notes that so many of the songs that he and the Nightcats play live are hard to find for fans.
“People go, ‘Which CD is this one on?’ and ‘Which CD is that one on?’ Sometimes they’re new songs, but people are always asking for CDs with some of those old songs and I have to tell them to go to Alligator-dot-com and type in ‘Little Charlie.’ So there was a need for this album, and it turned out great: We taped a few nights on the road and then two nights at [San Francisco blues club] Biscuits & Blues and everything came from one night--one of them good nights, man! It was my birthday and in San Francisco, where I grew up--as much as I did grow up. The audience was really into it, you know, drunk or something.”
But it all helps in making a great live album.
“It came out just like I wanted,” concludes Estrin. “When you listen to it, it really feels like a gig. Little Charlie made a live record in the ‘90s, but I didn’t feel this way when I listened to it. People liked it and everything, but this really feels like you’re there—also, I think, because we put in a lot more of my bulls**t, and it helps.”
In addition to Estrin’s songs, singing, musicianship, and comic hipster bullsh**t song and stage patter, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats include multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Farrell, drummer J. Hansen and guitarist Chris “Kid” Andersen.
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