Lydia Pense & Cold Blood shake the Biscuits and roll the Blues

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By Lilan Kane

After 41 years together, local blues-funk outfit Cold Blood still sounds exactly like I imagine they would have when they were fresh to the scene back in the Bill Graham days. I never had the chance to see them before, so the evening I finally caught them, on April 23, was a particular treat for me, an avid Lydia lover. Of course I'm talking about lead singer Lydia Pense. It is near unbelievable how such a big a voice comes out of her pint-sized frame. Time has not faded her soulfulness by any means -- she still holds it down like a female James Brown.

On this night, Cold Blood served up a bucket of soul at the popular SF live music venue Biscuits & Blues.  The band consisted of a multi-faceted trumpet-flugelhorn-congas-percussionist, a keyboardist, guitar, bass, and drums.  Opening the night with a cult classic, they performed the popular Willie Dixon tune “I Just Wanna Make Love To You.” This song segued into several cuts from their album, Transfusion, and other hits. The first set also offered a sneak peak into some of the new material that will be released this fall on their first record in years. Fans will not be disappointed from what I heard.

But it was their second set that really got me hummin’. They pulled out several hits off their most popular record, Sisyphus, including “I’m A Good Woman,” “Funky On My Back,” and for the first time in twenty years, “Too Many People.”  Their cover of “Kissing My Love” was tasty and would have made Mr. Withers proud.  The mélange of macaroni & cheese croquets and original Fillmore soul was the perfect fit for a Friday night in the city.  Their horn section is still on point, the guitar is funky, the keyboards are fresh, the bass and drums are locked in the pocket, and Lydia is on fire.  If you haven’t heard of them or haven’t seen them live, imagine this: Janis Joplin & Big Brother meets Tower of Power meets James Brown.  Be on the lookout for their album set to release this fall.

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