An exceptional Red Devils video posted by Canix Lottum with Zach Zunis on lead guitar is so rare it’s damn near on the endangered species list.
Zunis took the lead guitar spot during a late 1993 tour of Europe, after Paul Size had ejected from the band. Bookended by gigs in Sweden and the UK, the boys spent most of November in The Netherlands, including this Nov. 20, 1993, stop at OJC Canix in Lottum.
This wasn’t the actual club, however, which was damaged by fire. This “Canix” show was at a venue called de Smetenhof.
In front of a capacity crowd of 350, the Devils look to have provided a fiery set, with all the players on the same take-no-prisoners mission.
Lester Butler seems a little out of it toward the beginning of the show, clinging to the microphone stand and eyeing the crowd suspiciously. Wearing an era-appropriate grunge uniform of long-sleeve thermal with a black T (and his then-trademark headband), Butler’s charisma shines through.
Pictures and video don’t always show Butler’s height, but here you can see how small he was, especially on “The Hook,” when Lester holds the microphone like a rapper, barking as he stomps around the stage.
Zunis, for his part, fits in well and looks to be having a great time, all the while keeping his eye on the frontman. In an alternative timeline, he might have been just the guitarist the Devils’ needed: All of the musical power as well as the experience.
And this was planned to be the lineup going forward — if The Red Devils could have continued as a viable band post-1993.
The video is not the full show, and many of the songs are truncated or spliced. But it’s still better than most everything else you’ve watched lately!
Canix tells the story in the video description, translated here:
Recordings of the concert that the American blues band The Red Devils gave in 1993 in youth center Canix in the Smetenhof in Lottum.
The video consists of 2 recordings that we found on old betamax tapes. The quality is mediocre, the image sometimes flickers, but the intensity of this legendary concert can still be clearly felt. The band was looking forward to it, which is also reflected in singer Lester Butler.
No idea if we put the shots in the right order, doesn’t really matter either.
We are still looking for the titles of the songs played. If you know, please let us know!
And if you have any recordings of this or other Canix concerts, please let us know.
This might help. Here are the songs on this particular video:
- Goin’ To The Church
- Blackwater Roll
- Got My Eye on You / Boogie Chillen
- No Fightin’
- I Wish You Would
- Cross Your Heart
- The Hook
Watch to the end of the video for two articles onscreen. First is a review called “Luchthappen” (“Gasp”) by Bart Ebisch for the North Limburg newspaper, “from the jubilee book of Canix,” translated into English below:
Lester Butler (vocals/harmonica) of The Red Devils from Hollywood, United States, showed understanding on Saturday evening for the precarious situation in which OJC Canix from Lottum currently finds himself. The new building of the youth center that burned down last year is ready – Christmas 1994? – Canix has to move to venues in the area. On Saturday it was the much too small (and uninviting) Smetenhof in Lottum, which was packed with more than 350 blues enthusiasts. After less than fifteen minutes of play, everyone was already gasping for air in the sweaty smokehouse where an air freshener was missing. Instead of complaining, the aspiring rock star joked between two bloody blues rock songs: “I love this air: smokey and none of that oxygen.”
Two hours later, after a journey of more than half an hour with the “hits” “Goin’ to the Church” and “Automatic,” The Red Devils stepped off the stage, exhausted but satisfied. For a grateful audience they had played about three quarters of the debut CD “King King,” but also a lot of new songs (“Backstreet Crawler,” “Blackwater Roll”) and some covers of Black blues heroes of the past such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Bo Diddley, also once guest in Lottum.
What we knew since Pinkpop was confirmed on Saturday evening: The Red Devils are the best blues rock band of the moment, with Butler as the charismatic pivot. His voice hovers somewhere between John Fogerty (ex-Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Chris Robinson (Black Crowes), his mouth harmonica between John Mayall and Magic Dick (ex-J. Geils Band). Butler was again supported on stage by an excellent rhythm section. New was solo guitarist Zach Zunis, who, like his predecessor, has a lot to offer.
The future for The Red Devils looks bright, partly because the group has broadened its field of vision. While a concert at the time of “King King” consisted largely of blues covers, in Lottum Butler confirmed his talent as a songwriter. After returning to the U.S., the new songs will be recorded on a new CD. That could be the definitive breakthrough for this Hollywood combo, whose fans include musical celebrities such as Mick Jagger and guitarist Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
A compliment is also in order here for Canix, which has built up a good reputation in the North Limburg pop circuit. Even in these difficult times, the youth center knows how to attract high-profile groups to Lottum, which promises a lot for the future in the new base. After Omar & The Howlers and Thelonious Monster, it was the turn of The Red Devils this time. If Butler and his buddies do indeed achieve stardom, the concert in De Smetenhof will be classified as legendary. That only makes the compliment more beautiful.
There also is a submitted piece written by Per Nijssen of venue Mafcentrum in Maasbree, The Netherlands:
Canix was regularly visited from Maasbree for concerts. We often came to Lottum with a full bus. For example to concerts by Claw Boys Claw (still in the old club), the Radio Kings, Monti Amundson and Michael de Jong. And of course to the legendary concert of The Red Devils in the Smetenhof. You then opened the bar extra early for us because it was more convenient with bus transport. On the way back, some “sociable” fellow travelers loaded some bicycles. However, the quality was such (good) that these vehicles were brought back to Lottum the next day (with some remorse). Furthermore, it is sometimes also difficult to obtain a “Taxi oet Lottum.” After one of Skik’s performances, we once had to fight quite a bit with a bunch of people from Horst America.
Also fun is of course the legendary pop quiz in which we have wanted to participate for years and which is always the happening in January.
Per Nijssen, (regular) visitor to Maasbree.