Steve Ferguson And The Humanitarians Live At Uncle Pleasant's
Steve Ferguson And The Humanitarians (Format: Cassette)

By Bob Bahr

Steve Ferguson's homegrown recording Live at Uncle Pleasant's, is rough enough to sound like a bootleg, but good enough to show why Ferguson is considered one of the best guitarists in Louisville. "Live" has boogie-woogie with the fire of Jerry Lee Lewis, a fire that keyboardist Rod Wurtele can summon up like a wizard. Steve Ferguson and the Humanitarians' music is comfortable, familiar, gripping, and possessing a beat that makes you wiggle your hindmost parts.

lt's not just a boogie-woogie album. Ferguson moves beyond pure boogie to incorporate old-time country and credible blues to form something he has called Midwest Creole music. Leading the way is Ferguson's rootsy guitar sound, bringing to mind all the greats of rock 'n' roll, R&B, blues and country. His guitar work is a joy. And Ferguson's voice is strong and authentic-sounding, limited in range but comfortable in all the above-mentioned areas of music.

Need a chuckle? Listen to Ferguson's lyrics. "Flat Foot Flewzy" and "Sourpuss" complain about the lesser members of the greater sex. Where does he meet these women?

"Stepped in What?" is a lonesome blues lament about, about well, you can guess what "what" is. Ferguson divulges his personal cure of the problem for the benefit of the similarly unfortunate: "Gonna find myself a stick / And scrape off these blues / And go on down to the DAV / And buy myself some shoes."

"Sourpuss," side two's opener, is charmingly country, or perhaps country & western, with a campy Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys feel. I'm reminded of Red Knuckles. & the Trailblazers and their bright mix of musicianship and humor;

Side one of the cassette ends with a boogie medley of "Snooze You Lose," "Can You Stand It?" and "Outer Space Boogie." Modulating from song to song, the Humanitarians, consisting of Wurtele, drummer David Marasco, bassist Robert Monk Mackey, and guitarist Pat Lentz, make the sometimes tired medley form come alive with urgency and electricity.The Humanitarians are a tight back-up band and a so-so background vocal group.

The sound quality on Live at Uncle Pleasant's doesn't make you feel like you were there; it makes you feel like your friend was there with a tape recorder in his pocket. The drums, especially the cymbals, are lost in a sea of high-end white noise. The guitars come searing through, though, and it's not hard to imagine what a Steve Ferguson and the Humanitarians show is like. It's goooooood.