Carey & Lurrie Bell,
Gettin' Up Live
(Delmark, 2007)

It's truly unfortunate, but over the summer, Gettin' Up Live became not just a DVD of a Carey Bell performance but a farewell. Bell died during the summer. He was in poor health when this DVD was filmed. The gigs were scheduled but before they could be played, Bell got sick.

As guitarist Scott Cable explains, "Carey had a stroke and fell and broke his hip. Literally, he was in the hospital four weeks. I picked him up on Friday, took him home and we were in the car by Monday going to Chicago." Bell was determined to play. His only question was, "How are we gonna get this wheelchair up on stage?"

They managed, he played and, as he always had in the past, Bell rose to the occasion. He plays like a man half his age, a man in great shape who draws energy and strength from his harmonica. Bell's playing and singing seemed to lift he band. His son and lead guitarist, Lurrie Bell, played better than I've ever heard him before. The rhythm section laid down a foundation that had the crowd at Rosa's Lounge and Buddy Guy's Legends, the clubs where the DVD was filmed, up on their feet dancing and screaming for more.

Bell, a master of Chicago blues, who learned from grandmasters Big Walter Horton and Little Walter, knew the blues inside and out and pulled every bit of emotion out of every song. Even when he wasn't singing lead, as when Lurrie stepped to the front for "Baby Please Don't Go," Bell drove the tunes and dominated the sessions. It is an amazing performance and a fine way to say goodbye to one of the most important voices of the older generation of blues musicians.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

5 January 2008

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