Pianist Terry Adams spend his early musical years playing in bands in and around Louisville, Kentucky. NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quintet, later Quartet) took root in 1965 in his home in Shively, Kentucky, but after a few local gigs relocated in 1966 to Miami, Florida. The original band splintered, and in 1967 Adams joined the Miami-based The Seven of Us until he reformed NRBQ in 1968 and moved the band to the northeast. Known over the years for its levity, the band hired professional wrestler "Captain" Lou Albano as its manager (for whom they penned a song in tribute), played sets while wearing pajamas, and exploded Cabbage Patch Dolls on stage. Adams developed stage 4 throat cancer in 2004, and NRBQ went on hiatus. As he recovered, Adams toured with Japanese rockabilly group the Hot Shots, the Louisville Sluggers and The Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet before reforming NRBQ in 2011. Its current members are Adams, guitarist Scott Ligon, bassist Casey McDonough, and drummer John Perrin. NRBQ's 21st and most recent album is 2014's Brass Tacks.
More than 50 years after forming, NRBQ is still proving that serious musicians can enjoy playing not-so-serious music. At B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, Adams' virtuosity at playing honky tonk-style piano was unblemished even as his animated band played silly pop songs alongside a wide-ranging musical repertoire of light-hearted rock, blues, country, jazz and Tin Pan Alley-inflected songs. The other musicians also sang lead and contributed ably to spontaneous jams. Shifting from Carl Perkins-styled rockabilly to Beatles-influenced pop to Thelonious Monk-inspired jazz, the thread that held it all together was a buoyant energy and a spirit of fun. Perhaps the charm of the performance was that despite all the changes in the music world over the past 50 years, this oddball bar band seems to exist outside of time and space.
Visit NRBQ at www.nrbq.com.