Rick Estrin & the Nightcats' "Dump That Trump"
Much as Ashford & Simpson remade their big 1984 pop hit “Solid”—with its “solid as a rock” lyric—into “Solid (as Barack)” to support Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential campaign, Rick Estrin & the Nightcats have turned the top track of the 1989 album The Big Break, “Dump That Chump” (about getting rid of a bad boyfriend), into the 2020 campaign anthem “Dump That Trump.”
A star-studded video in the manner of the uproarious clip for “(I Met Her On The) Blues Cruise,” from the group’s 2012 album One Wrong Turn, was included Saturday night in the award-winning Bay Area blues band’s hour-long virtual concert live stream on the Can’t Stop the Blues Facebook page.
The new version is typical Estrin-funny, but pulls no political punches, what with the blues harmonica king’s lyrics like “You got treason, fraud and larceny—man, how much more you really need to see?”
The video ends with a pointed “message from The Nightcats” by way of a Signs of Justice yard sign (“We believe black lives matter...no human is illegal...love is love...women’s rights are human rights...science is real...water is life...injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”) followed by a mock Trump insult tweet lambasting “washed up jazz singer “Rick Estrigen’” for “trying to rescue his failed carreer [sic]” by making a “really unfair song about me with lots of libtard rockstars in it.”
In all fairness, much like the “Blues Cruise” clip, the “Dump that Trump” video does feature 50-plus blues luminaries including Charlie Musselwhite, Kim Wilson, Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Jerry Portnoy, Paul Oscher, Lucky Peterson and Alligator Records (Estrin and the Nightcats’s label) president Bruce Iglauer.
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats Can't Stop the Blues concert
The full Can’t Stop the Blues concert, which is also available on YouTube, also picked up on the concept for Estrin & the Nightcats’ video for current album Contemporary’s titletrack, directed by Nightcats ace guitarist Kid Andersen.
Opening with a black-and-white spoof of silent movies, it showed a disgruntled Estrin reading a Rolling Stone mock cover blaring “The Blues is Dead!” and realizing his career is dead with it--unless he can quickly come up with a survival plan. Phoning “the fellas,” he expresses the urgent need to “get contemporary,” otherwise they’ll have to get, heaven forbid, “JOBS!!!!”
Likewise, the intro to “Dump that Trump” Saturday night showed the rise and purported fall of Estrin, first with Little Charlie & the Nightcats (the band was originally led by the late guitarist Charlie Baty) and then with Estrin fronting, via successive album covers, genuine press coverage, and fake-news headlines documenting his downfall: “New Estrin Songs Flop,” “Estrin Unable to Follow Up ‘Dump that Chump,’” “Rick Estrin is All Washed Up,” “Virus is Final Nail in Coffin for Nightcats” and (in Barely Living Blues magazine, no less!) “Whatever happened to Rick Estrin?”
"Dump That Chump"
Now reduced to wearing a t-shirt, Estrin, who had first been shown resplendent in his stardom while leading the hot Nightcats, presented a forlorn sad sack as he tried to get online viewers to sing along to his solo performance of “Dump that Chump”—a song that “bought me the house I used to live in.” With that he implored “all 11 of you to find it in your hearts to donate to my PayPal” and maybe “buy me a hot meal tonight or a cup of coffee or something.”
After gobbling sleeping pills, Estrin is next seen tossing and turning in bed as he dreams of scenes from the “Contemporary” video—when a lightbulb pops up and goes off and he wakes up with the solution: “Dump that Trump!”
“Sh’t’s just gotten way too f’ked up. I had to say something,” Estrin said by email following the show. After he and the band performed it, he expressed appreciation that viewers were still there “after we got a little political there for a minute, but personally, myself and the Nightcats had to let that out.”
“Man, you got to stand up once in a while,” he added.
The rest of concert offered other Estrin standards like “Calling All Fools” and blues classics like Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Too Close Together.” All the Nightcats, of course, were playing together apart in their home studios, with Lorenzo Farrell surrounded by keyboards, new drummer Derrick “D’Mar” Martin (formerly Little Richard’s drummer for 17 years) doing his amazing drum stool jumps, and Estrin constantly changing his colorful stage attire.
The Big Break, by the way, was a Little Charlie & the Nightcats album, and the concert ended with Andersen, handling the technical operation out his Greaseland Studio in Santa Cruz, reporting “some weird disturbances on the satellite line” and opting to play upright bass for the sake of diagnostics. Dedicating the instrumental finale to Baty, Estrin related his unexpected passing in March, and said that playing with him for over 30 years was “like watching Evel Knievel walking a tightrope every night--you never knew what he was going to do! He was out of his mind in the best way possible.”
Suddenly, Andersen observed “strange transmissions like from another world.” Estrin looked up, and sure enough, the video apparition of Little Charlie playing a guitar solo manifested itself into the feed.
But the night’s takeaway had to be Estrin’s hopeful words after pleading for PayPal donations: “Just remember, times won’t be hard always.”
Ashford & Simpson's "Solid (as Barack)"