Whenever I think of Lightnin’ Willie and the Poorboys, I can’t help but be reminded of the words of an American ex-pat who was a country and western star in Russia during the Cold War: “I’m a big star over here, but in my hometown, nobody knows my name.”
When it comes to this blues-playing Pasadena resident, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that nobody knows his name, but his stateside fame precedes him considerably less than in the UK, where he regularly tours and plays to packed houses. Saturday night, you can see what the dust-up is all about at Sierra Madre’s Buccaneer Lounge.
The location seems all too appropriate for a wailing, classic blues guy like this: a funky, no-frills little neighborhood bar, where the only thing that’s fancy is the music you hear onstage.
On a biographical note, locals who aren’t familiar with “Lightnin’ Willie” Hermes may remember him from the days he teamed with Marcie Marx to power the late, great rock band Hermes & Marx back in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
On a musical note, his current incarnation finds him playing blues the way aficionados of the genre like it: hard, raw and roadhouse. Hermes plays with an honesty, integrity and love for the music reminiscent of some of the legendary Texas and Chicago blues heavies. Lightnin’ Willie’s music is “real,” which is one of the best things you can say about a blues man.