Fortune smiled on the Berks Arts Council during the 25th anniversary season of its free Bandshell Concert Series this summer, with five beautiful evenings in City Park.
To wind up the season on Friday, the Kinsey Report, a remarkable family band from Gary, Ind., performed its own distinctive style of blues-based music, inspiring the audience to dance and sing into the blue-moonlit night.
Brothers Ralph (drums), Donald (lead guitar) and Kenneth (bass) Kinsey, along with rhythm guitarist Andrew Ogrodzinski, played with that special feeling of tight kinship that happens when relatives perform together.
While all four are marvelous musicians, the band showcases the incredible talent of Donald Kinsey, whose lead vocals and guitar solos reflected his years with blues great Albert King, reggae greats Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, and, of course, his lessons early on with his father, the late Lester "Big Daddy" Kinsey, who performed with his sons during the 1980s.
The band opened with some powerful funk, and it was clear that the audience was in for a treat as Donald began to pull some magic tricks out of his solo bag. Brilliant riffs flew high over Ralph's driving beat; it was electric guitar
playing with amazing clarity and precision and, as he demonstrated later, an uncanny vocal quality.
They did a couple of up-tempo blues numbers: Jimmy Reed's "Goin' to New York," and "I've Got One Too Many Women" - rollicking, sassy and in-your-face.
They performed Percy Mayfield's song of lost love, "River's Invitation," with intensity.
Then, there was a long, slow blues that started with a wailing guitar. When Donald got around to singing, it turned out to be the wonderful Big Bill Broonzy song, "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town." Here, the guitar functioned as a backup singer. It was a dazzling performance.
During the second half, Ralph was highlighted as the lead vocalist while he drummed, and he proved to have a fine tenor voice.
There were more blues/rock pieces, with psychedelic solos by Donald, and a Bob Marley song to a heavy, thumping beat, and another funky selection with some bizarre sounds coming out of the guitar.
In a big instrumental piece, Donald lit up the night with long, intricate stories told by his guitar. And toward the end of the show, Donald sang the late B.B. King's "Sweet Little Angel," starting quietly and building and building the guitar solo into a volcano of sound, then brought it down again in another perfectly calibrated rendition.
Email Susan L. Pena: life@reading-