Written by Bill Whiting
Kofi Baker, the son of the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer, Ginger Baker, brought his tribute band, Kofi Baker’s Cream Experience to Covington, Kentucky’s Madison Theater on May 31, and put on a mind blowing performance of Hendrix, Cream, Beatles and Blind Faith classics. Does it get any better than that? Kofi started young, performing at age six with his father on television, before maturing into the bold force behind Steve Marriot’s Humble Pie and Abstract Logic while also touring with other legends including Jack Bruce, Randy California, John Ethridge and others. Baker’s trio at the Madison included lead guitarist/singer Fran Banish (Duncan Sheik, Keb Mo) and bassist Ric Fierabracci (Chick Corea, Billy Cobham). Beginning the night with Cream’s “White Room,” Banish and Fierabracci set the tone early on, producing dazzling solos that swirled around Baker’s masterful timekeeping.
Continuing with “Outside Woman Blues,” Banish nailed the vocals and nuanced Clapton guitar lines from the 1967 Disraeli Gears nugget, and from the pounding blues monster, “Politician.” Moving into 1969, Baker, Banish and Fierabracci sharply navigated the rock fueled terrain of the Beatles’ Abbey Road masterpiece,” I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” 1967 Jimi Hendrix standards from the Are You Experienced album were well represented as Baker and co. pulled tight on the reigns of the edgy “Manic Depression,” and the smoldering, restless blues inherent inside of “Hey Joe.” Receiving standing ovations from the audience, Baker introduced “Strange Brew,” and Banish turned the piece inside out with piercing solos and tight harmonies. “Badge” featured the stellar bass rhythms of Fierabracci, and Baker’s intuitive, percussive wall of sound. Of course, any highlight of a Cream related show would have to include “Sunshine of Your Love,” and Baker’s ensemble tore through the number with reckless abandon, shaking the theater’s walls with amplified distortion and frenetic bursts of feedback. Ending one of the best concerts of 2012 with the Robert Johnson penned blues based blow out, “Crossroads,” Kofi Baker’s Cream Experience at the Madison Theater in Covington on May 31 will be remembered fondly, recommended highly by those in attendance, and, no, it doesn’t get any better than that.