Blues bands to perform at the Colonial


PITTSFIELD -- More than 40 years after its inception, Roomful of Blues will bring its unique and award-winning style of music to the Colonial this weekend.

The legendary blues band will appear with Popa Chubby and the George Boone Blues Band, both equally respected in the industry for their own talents.

Since forming in 1967 in Rhode Island, Roomful of Blues has achieved a hefty five Grammy nominations for their work and won seven Best Blues Awards.

The band has recorded nearly 20 studio albums in its long career. In 2013, the group released a live album titled "45 Live," which was recorded at the Ocean Mist in Rhode Island to celebrate Roomful's 45th anniversary. Their last studio album, "Hook, Line, and Sinker," was released in 2011 on Alligator Records.

Although Roomful of Blues has been a bit of a revolving door over more than 45 years -- it's consisted of dozens of horn players, guitarists and drummers -- lead guitarist Chris Vachon has been in the group since 1990.

"I can't remember when [I joined]," Vachon joked.

Vachon said Roomful of Blues is excited to be coming back to Western Massachusetts for the first time in a long time.

"I believe its the first time we're playing the Colonial," Vachon said. "It's a new eperience."

Vachon said that when he joined more than two decades ago, he had a lot to learn, but also tried to incorporate his own style into the already-legendary band.

"We've had a lot of great guitar players, obviously," Vachon said. "I didn't really try to copy them."

Although he had been playing the blues for a while -- "I had the basic concept of the blues," he said -- it took him some time to back up horn players. Now he's at the helm of the eight-member group.

But Vachon has fit right in, and the band has continued to achieve success as it approaches its 50th birthday. And, according to Vachon, there hasn't been any real secret to the success.

"Even before I got in the band they had a couple of Grammy-nominated records," Vachon said. "I got in the band in 1990, and we had a Grammy nomination for ‘Turn it On! Turn it Up!' [in 1995.]"

Vachon gives a nod to the group's founders -- of which one remains -- for establishing its distinct, up-tempo style.

"It had a good reputation shortly after it started, really," he said.

Though the band's style hasn't changed much in all of its decades in the studio and onstage, neither has its success. It won a Best Blues Award in 2005 for Best Blues Band, shortly before its 40th anniversary.

The band's live shows are a mix of old and new, though the group focuses mostly on its current record.

"We'll do a whole bunch of stuff that spans the career," Vachon said.

Not only does the band try to diversify its playlist, but also its styles, according to Vachon.

"It's going to be be a very diverse thing. We do a lot of different blue styles," he said. "So, it's not just the same old thing all the time."

Vachon's hoping that this harsh winter lets up for the concert, and that Saturday is snow-free.

Popa Chubby -- who describes himself as a cross between Jimi Hendrix and blues legend Robert Johnson -- is coming back to the Colonial for an encore performance. Another prolific artist, Chubby has released a dozen solo albums.

The George Boone Band is well-known by blues enthusiasts, as Boone has opened for acts such as B.B. King.

The show is a guest production put on by Galaxy Entertainment, a local promoter. Galaxy's owner, Vinnie Brandi, also a musician, said the shows at the Colonial are always a hit.

"I do a few shows a year," Brandi said. "The first couple have been really well-attended."

At every show, it's a mix of fans, also old and new. There are some fans in their late 50s that come up to the band after the show and say ‘I saw you in college,' Vachon said.

"We keep the same concept," he said. "People enjoy the music so they keep coming back."

Despite the band's age, its members aren't as old as say, the Rolling Stones or other bands formed in the ‘60s, and there's no signs of Roomful of Blues slowing down any time soon.

"We keep doing because we like it," Vachon said. "People come and go, but there's always usually the core."

If you go ...

What: Roomful of Blues, Popa Chubby, and George Boone Blues Band

When: Saturday, Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Colonial Theatre, 11 South St., Pittsfield

Box Office: (413) 997-4444



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