They started from a jam, so it makes sense they would return at a jam, under the cover of darkness, unannounced and just as powerful as when they burst on the national stage with “King King” in 1992.
The surviving members of The Red Devils reunited May 27 at an afterparty for the Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Music Festival Memorial Day weekend.
Lead guitarist Paul “The Kid” Size was playing the fest with Big Pete Sunday afternoon, and later that evening found himself reunited on stage at the Grand Vista Hotel with drummer Bill Bateman, bassist Jonny Ray Bartel and rhythm guitarist Dave Lee Bartel. By our count, this was the first time the four had been on stage since at least the middle of 1993.
Filling the all-important harmonica role was nofightin.com friend Johnny Mastro, who evoked the classic Red Devils sound. We all wondered how it would sound if it would happen, and who would be breathing into the bullet mic when it did. Now we know.
Johnny sent us an email this week telling us how it all went down:
Well it was pretty cool as the whole original band had not played together in a long, long time. It was not really planned and [Jonny Ray] kinda casually asked me to go up to Simi Valley after I played a 5 hour gig all day in Long Beach! Thank god my wife was kind enough to drive me and we had a blast.
We did about a half hour set. I let them play a couple before I came up and then we did another 2 or 3, so it was like a miniset as it was getting pretty late on Sunday Night. I tend to lean towards respectful so I just kind of listened and let the music flow.
They sounded unbelievable and there was an incredible amount of space to play harp, especially with the 2 guitars. I can’t describe it totally but I think they have a similar situation to say the Rolling Stones where together they have a sound and make a sum larger than their parts and that blew me away. Very heavy and driving with a powerful 3 part rhythm section.
And what a video — 18 minutes of The Red Devils, beginning with a stinging version of the instrumental “Sen-Sa-Shun,” followed by Mastro getting up for a textbook shuffle “She’s Dynamite” (at 3:40 in the video), followed by a jam reminiscent of “The Hook” from the “Blackwater Roll” EP (9:31).
Watch nofightin.com for more photos and videos as they become available.