A new generation of talented musicians brought the music of Cream to a full house of appreciative fans at the Soho nightclub in Santa Barbara on Saturday, March 7, 2020. No one in the crowd could have guessed that it would be one of the last evenings of live music in California and beyond because of the Covid 19 shutdown. The concert allowed the mostly older crowd of rock fans to relax into a musical trance of tunes from a magical time in rock history.
The band featured two members who are related to the original classic rock trio. Kofi Baker, the son of Cream’s original drummer Ginger Baker, plays drums. Lead guitarist, Will Johns is the nephew of Eric Clapton and son of Zeppelin/ Stones engineer Andy Johns. Veteran California musician Sean McNabb took over bass duties on the current tour. The band is rounded out by guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Chris Shutters. All four musicians contribute vocals with Kofi and Will trading off lead vocals on most songs.
The show at the Soho featured two full sets of classic rock hits beginning with the entire Disraeli Gears album, played in order. The band came on strong capturing the imagination of the crowd early, opening with the first two songs on the album, “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” Johns took center stage leading the band with intense lead guitar solos. Baker took over lead vocals on the third tune, “World of Pain.” The band tore through the whole album with an impressive display of musicianship. McNabb channeled the energy of the legendary Jack Bruce with intense bass rhythms while Shutters moved from guitar to keyboards with ease. The group came out from behind their instruments to sing an acapella version of the albums final tune “Mother’s Lament.” The group then returned to their instruments to end the set with two classic hits from the “Wheels of Fire” album including, “Pressed Rat and Warthog” and “White Room.” Shutters played a mean flute on the former while Baker shined on drums on the latter.
Music fans enjoyed the many local beer brews and cocktails that Soho had to offer during the break before the band returned for a second late-night set. The second set of covers was more ambitious, mixing ten tunes of songs from the Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes and Eric Clapton. Some tunes were more successful than others, and the second set didn’t have quite the hard rock punch of the first. But the band displayed an impressive array of musical skills in the varied tunes. By the time the group emerged for an encore featuring the classic JJ Cale tune that Clapton made famous, “Cocaine,” the audience seemed exhausted. But it didn’t stop them from dancing to the final song and erupting in an exuberant ovation. Long live live music! Hopefully, we will be free to go to concerts again soon.
For more on Music of Cream, please visit: https://www.musicofcream.com/