Blood, Sweat & Tears
at Long's Park, Lancaster, PA
(16 August 1993)

David Clayton-Thomas could walk down most main streets in America and no one would call his name or ask him for an autograph. But if he uttered one sentence in his signature vocal style, he would probably draw a crowd of people who knew his voice.

Clayton-Thomas is the lead singer for Blood, Sweat & Tears, the bluesy, 16-year-old band best known for hits like "Spinning Wheel," "And When I Die" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy."

He and the current incarnation of Blood, Sweat and Tears culminated a Day of Music Sunday at Long's Park in Lancaster, Pa.

BS&T is a pack of musicians who like to show that they like what they're doing. They grin, they jig, they joke around and generally ham it up as they play.

The audience seemed to like it, too, judging by the enthusiastic response greeting each song. The people clapped, danced and swayed and sang along. Clayton-Thomas encouraged them, gleefully playing them like a choir as he used them to fill in the occasional chorus.

He capered around the stage, mock directing his seven backing musicians and smiling broadly as he roared through favorites including "Hi-De-Ho," "God Bless the Child" and "Lucretia MacEvil."

The gravelly-voiced singer gave Blood, Sweat & Tears much of its flavor when he joined the band in 1969. Although early reviews of the band, originally formed by Al Kooper in 1967, were favorable, it wasn't until Clayton-Thomas took the microphone that BS&T made its mark.

It never made it to No. 1 on the charts, but BS&T did hit No. 2 with three songs and spent a cumulative 50 weeks in the Top 40. Although the band's membership has been fairly fluid over the years, it has retained a consistent popularity.

The concert in Long's Park preluded a break from performing. Clayton-Thomas said they will rest up in hometown New York City before doing some recording and starting their next tour.

"Tonight," he proclaimed, "we have the luxury of playing in our own backyard and going home to sleep in our own beds."

The Sunday performance closed out the band's summer season, which took them across the U.S. and through Europe to faraway concert sites in Istanbul and St. Petersburg. The band also made the rounds of European jazz festivals.

Jazz is, of course, one of the key ingredients to Blood, Sweat & Tears' success. While many bands pay lip service to the genre with brass harmonies and backgrounds, BS&T slams the sound home with a four-man brass section and prominent horn solos.

The hour of lively, bluesy rock ended with their most familiar tune, "Spinning Wheel." The cheering crowd called members back for an encore of "You've Made Me So Very Happy," before packing it up for the night.

[ by Tom Knapp ]