Concert Review: Nite Train (tribute to Thomasina Winslow) @ Caffe Lena, 2/4/23
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was supposed to be a celebration. Due to the sudden death of Thomasina Winslow last month, this concert was bittersweet instead. What was initially scheduled to be a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the formation of Nite Train was quickly transformed into a memorial and celebration of the life of Thomasina Winslow, a noted performer of the blues and folk music in her own right, and most recently a member of Nite Train.
Thomasina appeared on the stage of Lena’s many times, with her family, solo, and with different bands. Much of the evening was spent reminiscing about Thomasina, her many contributions to the music scene, and her dreams. Presently Nite Train is comprised of the following musicians:
- Marla Briggs – vocals
- Ken Briggs – bass, vocals
- Marcus Benoit – sax, keyboards
- Paul Quigley – lead and rhythm guitars
- Chris Kaiser – drums and percussion
The two sets were a mixture of originals by members of the band and a diverse selection of covers. Although Thomasina as a solo act was primarily known for country blues, she certainly could get funky and rock with the best of them. The Temptations’ ”Shakey Ground ” was covered. A medley of the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) and George Clinton’s “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker,” although from different eras, were woven seamlessly together. The Isley Brothers’ classic “It’s Your Thing” and James Brown’s “Night Train” were played with the funkiness they deserve. The relatively obscure Butterfield Blues Band song “Lovin’ Cup,” which reputedly was one of Thomasina’s favorites, was covered with gusto, with Marcus Benoit wailing away on saxophone as if you were at a Southside Chicago bar back in the day. “Stay Even” was a song of encouragement that Thomasina wrote and dedicated to a friend going through a rough time. “Junkyard Dog” and “Cat on a Mission” were tributes to various pets and their personalities. The mainstay of blues are tunes about relationships. The originals “Money Honey,” “Find a Man Around,” and ”If You Ever Touch Me” filled those shoes.
An expected regional/folk touch was when the band performed “46er,” Ken Brigg’s autobiographical song commemorating his becoming a 46er and the beauty of the Adirondacks.
Ken’s visually expressive communication style while talking, singing, and playing his bass kept the audience’s attention. Marcus Benoit was the multi-instrumentalist, playing sax, flute, and keyboard. Paul Quigley’s virtuosic yet not screaming style on guitar was an integral part of the band’s sound (Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” was humorously introduced as not Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart’s cover). Chris Kaiser grooved on the drums. Marla tied the band together with her vocals.
The performance ended with the Jr. Wells classic “Messing with the Kid,” which was later popularized by the Blues Brothers.
In order to accommodate a larger audience, another memorial concert will be held on Feb. 18 at the Carl B. Taylor Auditorium in Schenectady, from 2-4 pm. To obtain the latest information on this, and the various charities that you can donate to in Thomasina’s honor, go to nitetrainband.com.
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