Powerhouse were a ’70’s jump blues band, started in Washington, DC but based in Boston. I was not familiar with them in their heyday, only learning about them a few years later when I was in a blues band. The harmonica player owned a good collection of blues and rhythm and blues and this album, Powerhouse, was one of them.
Near as I can tell, most of their repertoire was covers. But what a great band! The leader was a terrific guitarist named Tom Principato, who still plays with his own band. When I tried to find some of their stuff online, I instead found his web site. I reached out to to him to buy his CD and later, to ask if I could put a few of his songs on YouTube so I could feature the Powerhouse album. He agreed, and so, here’s the post.
First song – what else – the B.B. King tune, “Powerhouse.”
The band was based in Boston in the ’70’s which was somewhat of a hotbed of blues at the time. (Seems to be less so these days unfortunately.) The band’s singer was a sightless guy named George Leh who is, for my money, one of the best blues singers I’ve ever heard.
True story – the drummer in the band I was in eventually wound up playing for George. One night, I accompanied him to a gig. He asked George if I could sit in. I did. And we played – Sloop John B! Hardly a blues song but what the hell.
Here’s Powerhouse doing the Willie Nelson song, “Night Life.”
Principato says that when the band Crawlin’ King Snake morphed into Powerhouse, they were originally a Chicago-style blues band. But increasingly, they listened to old swing records and heard other live bands who were starting this mini-revival. (Brian Setzer did stuff like this on his own after he left Stray Cats.) I wish there were more bands like this around. I consider this absolutely some of the best stuff on earth. If I didn’t have two left feet, I would most assuredly dance to this.😂
One of the tunes Powerhouse covered was a song called “Lovin’ Machine,” by ’40’s bluesman Wynonie Harris. Harris is, along with Louis Jourdan, considered one of the early forerunners of what would become rock and roll.
Here’s “Lovin’ Machine:”
If you’re so inclined, you can find other stuff by Tom and more snippets from the album here.