Instruments: Guitar
Date of Birth: July 10, 1953
Place of Birth: Birmingham, Alabama

Little Charlie and the Nightcats, a northern California quartet, employ various shades of humor and barroom wit to brighten their blend of straight Chicago blues, jazz-flavored West Coast blues, Texas swing, rockabilly, and rhythm & blues.

Long a Bay Area bar band, the Nightcats took permanent shape in 1976 when Charlie Baty, then a harmonica player and vocalist who also happened to play guitar, teamed up with Rick Estrin, a self-taught, accomplished harp player and singer inspired by the styles of Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rick Miller), and James Cotton. With Baty on guitar and Estrin assuming the harp and vocal chores, plus Dobie Strange on drums and Jay Peterson on bass, Little Charlie and the Nightcats developed a loyal following among blues and roots music fans in northern California.

In 1986 the group signed a recording contract with Alligator Records and released its debut album, All the Way Crazy, the following year. This recording and the others Little Charlie and the Nightcats have since made for Alligator contain lyrics steeped in playful repartee and a sense of swing that recalls the jump blues of Louis Jordan.

In 1990 Brad Lee Sexton replaced Peterson on bass. Little Charlie and the Nightcats tour the U.S. and Europe extensively, performing at both small blues clubs and large outdoor festivals.

by Robert Santelli

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

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