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Big Sister, The Oasis CafNew Paltz, NY- 9/22

It was almost by accident that a friend and I stepped into the Oasis Cafn this past weekend. We had spent most of the day hiking in the nearby mountains and only planned to stop in for a quick drink before heading back home. As we walked in, completely unprepared, we learned a band called “Big Sister” was playing that night. I felt I’d heard the name before but wasn’t quite sure, so we grabbed a seat and waited for them to begin.

The show opened with “Pockets”, a good slow blues intro to the night. It became immediately apparent that this band plays great blues-rock. There were no thirty minute jams or feedback coming from the stage; no keyboard noise, just devastating guitar work, tight drum playing, inventive bass lines, and great, gritty vocal ability. The next three numbers, “Mothers Garden”, “Hell For Me”, and “Good Day”, all kept a quick pace and showcased the guitar ability of Shelly Prior, as well as the vocal style of Lara Parks. The pair were complemented by the rhythm section, with Lisa Wexler, throwing down some good dynamic Blues drumming and Alana Orr following on Bass. When all was said and done we decided to stay for three sets of music.

The second set really demonstrated the full range of the band. It began with “Truth”, as a funky opening gave way to a southern rock feel. The next number, “Bad Love,” featured a shredding guitar lead from Parks leading to some great interplay before Prior took it over completely. Again the rhythm section kept up every minute and ended this number with a tight blues progression. “When She Goes” has a nice pop feel with some great slide guitar work. The set highlight, “Home,” followed, opening with a very slow rolling blues bass line. This song showcased Parks’ vocal talents again and allowed the band to play with some rockabilly stylings before reaching into the hard rock domain for some extremely high energy jamming. “Disconected” allowed Big Sister to delve into some alternative rock patterns, with Prior’s guitar reminiscent of Mike McCready. Next, Big Sister decided to offer a Big Brother and the Holding company cover as the four women offered a ripping rendition of “Piece of My Heart.” The set ended with “Talk Down To Me”, a Stevie Ray Vaughan-feeling rock number that again allowed Shelly to showcase her guitar playing ability.

The high energy continued during a short third set. “Around” had a funk feel before going into a crazy jam and returning to a tight, rehearsed section. Following four more songs, a broken string and some quick stage banter the night closed with an extended number “Sing a Simple Song.” This one began with a blues groove then flowed nicely into a hard rock song consisting of two distinct Jams, ending the night on an appropriate upbeat note. I will definitely see Big Sister again and I encourage fans of blues-flavored guitar rock to do the same.

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