On a cloudy afternoon in Harvard Square, Steve Katz (one of the founders of Blood Sweat & Tears) played to a very small (15+/-) crowd in what was billed as an afternoon of story and song. That was an accurate description, but this writer was decidedly underwhelmed by the show.
I was a huge fan of both The Blues Project and especially of BS&T when I was a teenager, and was looking forward to seeing Steve perform solo.
Steve is still a wonderful guitarist and his voice has held up over the years. He was never the lead vocalist for BS&T but as a songwriter contributed many beautiful songs, including what is probably my favorite of the band’s songs, ‘Sometime in Winter’. I was thrilled that he played it for us at this show. Another BS&T song he performed was the Tim Buckley tune ‘Morning Glory’.
The format of the show was chronological; Steve started with the Dave Van Ronk version of ‘Candyman’. He honed his guitar skills with formidable teachers Van Ronk and the Reverend Gary Davis in New York in the 1960s and obviously learned a lot of the music that influenced them. He played songs by Bessie Smith (‘Young Woman Blues’), Clarence Ashley (murder ballad ‘Little Sadie’), and another Van Ronk version of a song (‘Green Green Rocky Road’).
He told some stories, but most of his conversation consisted of complaints about various people in his musical life – a record label, a manager, members of his bands. Those kinds of stories are acceptable in a tell-all book, such as the book he is publishing this week, ‘Blood, Sweat and My Rock ‘N’ Roll Years: Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?’, but I do not go to a concert to hear negativity. Overall, I can say I did not enjoy the show.
It’s possible I was tired. It’s also possible I was expecting something different. And it’s also possible that the size of the crowd caused a lack of energy in the room. No matter the reason, I will not rush out to see Steve Katz perform again.