BLIND BOYS SURE PLAY A MEAN ROYCE HALL.
``Every time you buy a CD, I can eat a hot dog,'' joked Clarence Fountain, the founding member of the gospel vocal ensemble Blind Boys of Alabama during their performance Saturday night at UCLA's Royce Hall. Judging from the reception to the Blind Boys' performance, Fountain could spend the next couple of seasons at Dodger Stadium gratis. The Blind Boys sang to the converted - if not adherents to their particular religious precepts, then certainly those persuaded as to the transcending power of the group's gritty, soulful harmonies.
Resplendent in silky gold suits, Fountain and fellow original Blind Boy Jimmy Carter commanded center stage (George Scott was absent due to illness). They were accompanied by a band of musicians who have replaced singers lost through attrition (they have been performing since 1939, after all), and the all-star session band that performed the gospel vocal ensemble on its recent exquisite album ``The Spirit of the Century'': guitarists David Lindley and John Hammond, harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite, bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Michael Jerome.
Songs from ``Spirit of the Century'' almost exclusively filled the first set; Hammond performed his tune ``One Kind Favor,'' while Musselwhite offered up his song ``Rank Strangers.'' Highlights included the wrenchingly heartfelt ``Give a Man a Home,'' the propulsive ``Soldier,'' ``Motherless Child'' and a haunting version of ``Amazing Grace'' sung to the tune of ``House of the Rising Sun.''
The second set was more of an old-fashioned gospel rave-up, with the raspy baritone Fountain frequently playing to the crowd by strutting in place. Carter's lived-in tenor holds notes for impossible lengths of time; at the finale he bounded into the audience, mixing it up with fans, hopping and spinning like a dervish and repeatedly spurning his handler's efforts to steer him back to the stage.
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|Title Annotation:||Review; L.A. Life|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 15, 2002|
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