The Shadows of Knight's classic "Gloria"
Whether or not he's in fact the self-proclaimed "Grandfather of Garage Rock," as Jimy Sohns declared himself Friday night at the Cutting Room, the 71-year-old frontman of legendary 1960s garage rock band Shadows of Knight, who suffered a stroke a year ago, jumped about the stage like a kid.
Then again, he kind of had to: Just as Eric Burdon has surrounded himself with a new set of young Animals, Sohns, likewise in debt to the great blues legends like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, has a fab new band led by a 19-year-old sure-to-be guitar superstar in Michael Weber.
Not coincidentally, both the Animals and Chicago's Shadows of Knight recorded Hooker's "Boom Boom," which Sohns and new Shadows played at the Cutting Room while also evoking other '60s blues-based rock bands like the Yardbirds in playing such Chicago blues staples as Waters' "I Got My Mojo Working," which they recorded on their 1966 debut album. But they also played other garage rock signposts like the Leaves' "Hey Joe," and of course, "Gloria," the Shadows of Knight's 1966 No. 10 hit cover of the Them (featuring Van Morrison) gem, proclaimed by Sohns as the "National Anthem of Rock 'n' Roll."
In the house was Ralph Scala of Bronx garage rock band Blues Magoos, who came up to sing their No. 5 hit from 1967 "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet," B.B. King's "Hard Workin' Woman" and the Nashville Teens' 1964 hit "Tobacco Road." But the big surprise of the night—next to how great Sohns sounded—was his band, besides Weber made up of fellow Ohioans Skully Ten Eyck on bass, drummer James O'Connor and keyboardist Kevin Maxwell, with blues harmonica player Justin Norton in from San Francisco for the gig and holding his own in a harp-guitar face-off with Weber.
But Weber was all over the place, doing a double-headlock bit with Sohns where he still soloed impeccably with his arm around the singer's neck. Weber also is a vintage instrument collector, hence Maxwell's Farfisa organ, and he took a few lead vocals, notably on the Shadows of Knight single "Willie Jean."
Wearing a black suede vest with long fringes and flared paisley pants, Weber brought to mind the young Michael Bloomfield, fitting in that Bloomfield's late '60s band Electric Flag was also blues-rock. He seemed to be having the time of his young life jumping about the stage like Sohns to songs that were hits 50 years before he was born, that he somehow knows inside-out.
One hopes more will be seen of Sohns and the Shadows of Knight. One knows plenty more will be seen of Weber.