1000 N. Collier Blvd., Marco
Big Buck and the Biscuit Boys have their own flavor of music.
It’s blues, but not just any version of the blues; not Delta or Texas blues. The four-piece band plays an urban, funky style that originated up North. Bass player Dennis Portella called the Biscuit Boys’ groove more of a Chicago shuffle brand of blues, along with a little country and a lot of rock.
Think Muddy Waters, Albert King and the J. Geils Band for examples of the musicians who inspired their sound. Standout songs for the Biscuit Boys include “Mustang Sally,” “Roadhouse Blues” and appropriately, “Biscuit Bakin’ Woman,” by Willie Dixon.
Buck, the frontman, vocalist and harmonica player, is at the center of the band. Big Buck is a commanding presence on the stage, hopping onto his skateboard, blowing a few sizzling lines on the harp and keeping up a steady stream of jokes, not all of them repeatable.
“I’m a physical guy — I jump around a lot,” he said. “I try to give off a lot of energy when I’m up on stage.” His physicality even causes him to go through a lot of harmonicas. “I’ve got big lungs, and I blow out the reeds. I tend to go through harps pretty fast,” he said.
Buck is, indeed, a mound of sound, or as he sings in one of the band’s songs, “I’m your boy — 300 pounds of muscle and joy.” To be strictly accurate, it’s not all muscle.
There have been a lot of different Biscuit Boys since Buck formed the first band in 1993. His off-stage name is Guy LaForge, and the band was originally named Guy LaForge and the Blues de Ville. The Biscuit Boys tag, he related, came from the old “King Biscuit Flower Hour” radio show.
He grew up in Chappaqua, N.Y., with a piano-playing father and a mother who was in the theater. “There was always music in the house,” he recalled, “A lot of Ray Charles, Stan Getz and Hank Crawford, who played with T-Bone Walker. I loved it all, but most of all, I loved the blues.”
J. Geils was Big Buck’s biggest influence, to the extent where he followed them at one point from show to show. He saw their show more than 50 times, and got to sit in with the band on harmonica. Over the years, Buck also played with the Nighthawks, Lonnie Mack and Hot Tuna, the legendary group formed by Jefferson Airplane veterans Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady.
Barry Johnson, on the guitar, is another standout in the band. He rips scorching lead riffs on his Telecaster while still keeping the rhythm pumping. He sang lead on the old swing number, “Big Fat Papa,” and provided a smooth change of pace with his guitar work on the hypnotic classic, “Sleepwalk.”
Drummer John Chirichella took a turn singing lead on “The Thrill Is Gone.” One key to the band’s success, he said, is that, “This is one of the few bands where I can honestly say there are no egos. Buck shares the spotlight — he lets everybody shine.”
Fun is what it’s all about, said Buck. “We’re not making a lot of money — you gotta have a good time.” The way they project and share that enjoyment is what makes Big Buck and the Biscuit Boys fun to watch. Marco Island can see and hear Big Buck and the Biscuit Boys Friday night at Reflections.
If you go:
Friday, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and again Sept. 25
1000 N. Collier Blvd., # 21