Rick Estrin - Twisted

For thirty years, Rick Estrin was the voice and face of one of the country’s best-loved blues and jump bands, Little Charlie & The Nightcats. His huge harp sound, streetwise vocals, razor-sharp lyrics and hipster persona were as much the focus of the band as Little Charlie Baty’s hard-swinging and unpredictable guitar. In fact, Rick was so much the central figure of the band, most newcomers assumed that he was “Charlie.”

Now, with Little Charlie’s retirement from touring, Rick has truly stepped up to become “the man.” With support from the ever-inventive and swinging Nightcats rhythm section of Lorenzo Farrell and J. Hansen, and a new young recruit—Norway’s greatest contribution to American blues, guitar wildman Kid Andersen—Rick has taken the band in a fresh direction, rocking harder and more intensely than ever, but never straying far from the blues.

At the core of everything are Rick’s sly, incisive and often hilariously twisted original songs. They are tales inspired by his teenage and young adult years, hanging with the musicians, lowlifes, pimps and hustlers of San Francisco’s tough Fillmore District and Hunters Point neighborhoods and on Chicago’s South and West Sides. The songs range from rollicking rock ‘n’ roll to subtle and haunting slow blues, all delivered in his patented wry and worldly-wise voice. And along with his vocals, Rick’s harmonica is front and center, proving to the world once and for all that he is one of today’s truly gifted harp players, thoroughly rooted in the blues tradition, but bringing his own sound and vision to the instrument. As Muddy Waters so perfectly expressed it, “You play like a man, boy!”

–Bruce Iglauer,
President and founder,
Alligator Records