Singer and harp man Patrick Williams is one of those rare NOLA natives who chose blues over jazz, and as such, he holds down what there is of the Bourbon Street blues scene.Which is not faint praise because his backup band is as tight as can be, with the kind of interplay and sense of groove you only find, well, in a jazz band.
Patrick’s voice is a solid soul-blues instrument, and as you might expect from his gig, he hits all the obvious highlights—“Crossroads,” “Little Wing,” “Rock Me Baby,” “Pride & Joy.” (If you need further ID on those classics, this is not the band for you.) And aside from putting a little extra get-up in Howlin’ Wolf’s deathless “Killing Floor” and accenting the funk in Freddie King’s “Big Leg Woman,” the Xpress doesn’t do anything startling with the material.
The real news here is guitarist Ryan Hall, another native who’s been doing time with Texas alt-blues trio Woody’s Rampage. Barely out of his teens, Hall can wring necks with anyone on the Austin scene, and almost certainly cut the heads of any Crescent City native to whom blues is their first language—he’s got plenty of fireworks, and yet he’s already smart enough to save them for when they’ll do the most damage.
The whole band handles the Texas-Chicago electric blues nexus with a local’s sense of rhythm, but Hall can play on Bourbon Street anytime, as well as Sixth Street, Beale Street… he can take over any town he wants, really. Keep him here ’till the blues comes back.